But What About…

When I’m stating my opposition to seeking cures for autism, or to ABA and similar techniques, there’s one thing that people always do. It’s so predictable that it’s landed itself on the majority of curebie bingo cards. “But what about…”

But what about non-verbal autistics.
But what about those who have violent outbursts.
But what about the autistic children who don’t respond to anything.
But what about the low functioning autistics.
But what about those who can’t toilet alone.
But what about the ones who self harm.
But what about those in headgear.
But what about those with epilepsy.
But what about…
what about…
what about…

I can promise you, you’re not going to find one group of people, no matter how pitiful you might find them, that I am willing to condone the torture of. Your YouTube video that takes advantage of an autistic person so that their “caregivers” (and I use that term loosely) can rant about how terribly difficult their lives are will have no impact on me. I don’t see what you see. You see a person who is unmanageable, a burden to their parents, unpredictable, violent. I see a person who is frustrated, hurt, abused by those closest to them. Yes, humiliating your child in front of the whole of YouTube by filming their most painful moments, then giving your martyr speech about how hard your life is IS abuse. That young adult you refer to as an “autistic child” is hurting himself because his mother has just entered his room with a film crew and ranted at him, whilst offering no opportunity or support for him to communicate his needs. Behaviour is communication. He’s saying “I’m frustrated and I want this interaction to end”. These videos will only convince me further that what autistic and other neurodivergent people need is understanding, empowerment and respect.

There is no hierarchy of autism for me. There is no low functioning end of the scale where I consider people to be less human, less worthy of respect, less deserving of basic human rights. I will not agree with you. I cannot agree with you.

I’ve been that person kicking furniture, or screaming, or crying, or hitting and biting themselves. I’ve been the person who can’t do more than flap at a sudden storm of stimuli. I’ve been the head-banger, the screaming meltdown-er, I’ve been the one who very nearly ended up under a car because I couldn’t take everything in all at once.  I see something you don’t in those videos, those horrifying mommy-martyr accounts of behaviour. I see a reason for it. I can feel the frustration, the pain, the hurt of being thought of as less than human, not being allowed to communicate, not being respected.

There is no hierarchy. There is no “more autistic”. There are just people that society has a harder time embracing. We need to be working extra hard to make sure those people’s rights are respected and their needs are met.

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