So anyone who knows me – or at least has read my thoughts on autism – knows that I have shifted wildly from my initial ideas. I mention this only because I want to acknowledge that I don’t approach this post feeling patronizing or with some sort of authority. Had this exact video come out two years ago I’m not sure what I would have thought.

Anyway, like a perverse addict, I always seem to watch/read news stories about autism, simply because, well, I just do. And most of the time it makes me grumpy, so it’s no surprise that this CNN video segment is no different.

As I was watching it I tried to step back and ask myself why I was irritated. I know the vast majority of people working in autism science have benevolent intentions. I know that I am extremely blessed that Jack is so high-functioning that my life isn’t about searching for a cure. Who knows, maybe if he hadn’t changed as much as he had, I may still think like that, so I don’t hold judgment – I have no right to and I know that.

But this video, which is supposed to be positive and filled with medically-advanced hope, made me sad. The little things in it made me sad. The word normal was used both audibly to describe the little boy (“I never would have thought he was autistic!”) and to delineate the brain scan categories. And that’s just such a negative connotation, whether you consciously realize it or not. Really, think about your first impression when I say atypical versus abnormal. There was an emotional difference, wasn’t there? I know that’s splitting hairs, but when you’re the one pigeonholed you begin to notice these things. Language is powerful.

I am fully supportive of brain scans for conservative reasons. Obviously they are remarkable. But what I’m not kosher with is the idea of routinely and/or blanket scanning all kids – during the single most important time in their neurological development – just to see if their brains look funny. And all of this so they can see if a child needs early intervention, b/c EI is the single biggest factor in “pulling these kids out of the deep, dark hole they’re in”.

I agree that EI rocks. I abhor how it’s described there.

It seems incredibly dramatic to do scans when there are other non-invasive tests to see who qualifies for EI. And to be clear, I know the video isn’t implying other tests should be replaced, I’m just saying I think it’s way overkill with the scans. It’s just unnecessary to me – but that’s probably b/c I’m not comfortable with the idea of assuming we should narrow down anything specifically about autism, when everything about it is already so miasmatic.

And this full-circles to my view that all of this autism research is a slippery slope towards eugenics. And not only eugenics, but a version that is repugnant (if that’s not redundant) in my opinion. It honestly makes my stomach hurt to think that in a creepy Orwellian kind of way, maybe in 15 (5? 2?) years I could choose to abort Jack simply because he carried that predisposition for the dreaded ‘autism’.

Whatever. This is a complicated issue. And this isn’t a rant, really. It’s just that the further along we go, the more I am deeply uncomfortable with the negativity permeating the whole world of autism. I’ve said these things before, but I’ll probably say them again, because this idea of being different, not disabled, needs to be kept in the back of everyone’s minds. I know it’s easy to get lost in politically correct minutiae, but this isn’t a bleeding-heart cause d’jour to me like it’s become in the entertainment business. This is a snowball that is going in a frightening direction and it involves my kid.

That little boy shown was a happy, intelligent, fully functioning kid. So why was he the example when the whole premise of the video was jubilation that we’re closer to a cure?

What does he need cured?

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