Recently, I’ve seen a couple of items floating around social media either proposing that autistics should be killed, or that autistics and those who have autism running in their families should refrain from reproducing, to rid the world of the ‘scourge’ that is us.
Now, I don’t know if these are some horrible kind of satire or the work of (possibly fake) trolls, but it doesn’t really matter. Because it can only work as satire, or trolling, because there are plenty of people out there who DO have these attitudes, for real, even if they’re not usually so blunt about it.
These posts could be called ‘How To Dehumanise Autistics 101’. Here’s how you do it. (All italics are actual quotes from the above mentioned posts, some slightly abridged.)
1) Tell people that we are lacking in basic humanity.
Describe us in language that will frighten people who don’t really know much about autism. Tell them that we are not [in possession of] a fully aware sentient controlled mind, that we’re mental invalids, who are incapable of participating in the kindred spirit of human connection, that we have a deficiency of the essence of feeling, an inability to consider empathy, or that autism is the most inhumane, most destructive and dehumanising condition, in short that we’re the ultimate monstrosity.
2) Create an alarmist picture of ‘typical’ autistic behaviour.
Paint us as mass shooters blowing the brains out of kindergartners, or becoming stalkers, or simply as terrible things who tear our families to pieces, leaving our parents’ lives in ruins, who remain forever incapable of toilet training (what is with these neurophobes, that they always go straight to the faeces?), or the cause of public disturbances, or just claim that each of us cost the world a million dollars of medical care. A big part of much of this, of course, is assuming that we’re all low-functioning human pets, though even THAT picture is a distorted and incomplete one.
3) Insist our lives are ‘miserable’.
Tell people that we are doomed to suffering, spend our time banging [our] heads on the floor (or filling our pants, presumably), live lives of constant pain and hate [ourselves], and that those lives are incomplete, missing the most important components of humanity and sentient feelings. You might even claim that autistics themselves would like it if nobody would again suffer from the condition [we] have.
4) Suggest or even state outright that the world would be better off without us.
The bald advice of these people is to leave [us] by the riverside as babies, or that anyone on the autism spectrum or with… relatives with autism.. needs to be discouraged from reproducing. Because if you carry autistic genes… [they’re] not worth passing on. That we should dare to dream big, that we owe [it] to the future, in fact, to wipe autism from the face of the earth.
Never mind that much of this is contradicted by the evidence, eg that autistics actually have too much empathy, hyper-sensitivity, and all-too-aware minds. Never mind what should be obvious, eg that a kid banging their head on the floor is either in pain or in an extreme of rage and frustration. Never mind that most of us do not consider our lives, or ourselves, or our minds, ‘incomplete’, or ‘lacking’ in anything but acceptance and understanding from others. Never mind even that much of our ‘pain’ is actually caused by that lack of acceptance and understanding. Yes, even the so-called ‘low functioning’ (a label that is essentially meaningless in practical terms anyway). The attitude of those around us is *THE* biggest single indicator of the quality of autistic lives. Period.
Actually, never mind common sense or facts at all. Just go for the jugular, and fill people up with so much fear of us that they’ll agree to anything to get rid of us.
That’s how you dehumanise autistics.
We have been abused, beaten, denied basic human rights, had our intelligence discredited, been tortured with ABA, had bleach or turps or other horrible things shoved up our bums or down our throats, had our authentic autistic selves forcibly or even violently repressed, and much, much more, including sometimes being killed, because of attitudes like this.
I suspect that people like this haven’t actually met any autistics, even those who would be considered ‘low-functioning’, they’re just going by some mental image of ‘what an autistic is’. They certainly haven’t met me, or any of my friends. They haven’t seen their beautiful souls, their depth of compassion, their empathy for the underdog, their ability to create communities and support each other (that ‘kindred spirit’ it’s claimed we don’t have), their joy in their favourite interests, or helping others, or simply in small things like a drop of dew in a flower.
But I repeat – these people are have only *publicly* stated what many others are thinking or feeling, without much reflection. The media, the ‘martyr/warrior mommy’ movement, and Certain Big Autism Organisations who don’t actually include us or even attempt to understand us are largely responsible for this, but the attitudes are rife in the general public as well.
It’s these attitudes, not autistics, that I believe should be ‘left by the riverside’, and ‘wiped from the face of the earth’. Enough with the dehumanising. We’re people. We’re human. We’re here to stay. And we deserve better than to be treated this way.