I’m Autistic, And Believe Me, It’s A Lot Better Than Measles

, And Believe Me, It’s A Lot Better Than MeaslesVaccines don’t cause autism. But even if they did, is being like me really a fate worse than death?The autistic brain is not particularly good at understanding irony, and yet most people I’ve met on the autism spectrum have, over time, developed a pretty strong grasp of the concept. Many of us have even managed to teach ourselves how to wield it. I’ve begun to suspect that this is due to our constant hands-on experience.Having an autism spectrum disorder in an ableist world means that you’re constantly exposed to cruel irony. Most frequently, this comes in the form of neurotypical (i.e. non-autistic) people who tell you, incorrectly, that you can’t or don’t feel empathy like them, and then stubbornly refuse to care about your feelings when they claim that you’re lost, that you’re a burden, and that your life is a constant source of misery for you and everyone who loves you. There’s also my current favorite: parents who are willing to put the lives of countless human beings at risk because they’re so afraid that the mercury fairy will gives their kids a tragic case of autism if they vaccinate. Gotta protect the kids from not being able to feel empathy — who cares whether other children live or die?No matter what other lofty ideas of toxins and vaccine-related injury anti-vaxxers try to float around in their defense, that’s really what all of this is about: we’re facing a massive public health crisis because a disturbing number of people believe that autism is worse than illness or death. My neurology is the boogeyman behind a completely preventable plague in the making.The anti-vaccination movement is a particularly bitter issue for me because it doesn’t just dehumanize me as an autistic person; it also sets off two of my biggest triggers. Like many people on the spectrum, I don’t handle it well when people are 1) wrong, and 2) unfair.I’ve always struggled to be patient with people who are clearly and obstinately wrong. Most of my elementary school report cards contained some variation of “Sarah does not suffer fools gladly” and I can’t honestly say that I’ve made significant improvements in that arena since then. And people who refuse to vaccinate their children because they believe that vaccines cause autism are wrong. Andrew Wakefield’s infamous study that linked autism to the MMR vaccine, which first sparked anti-vax panic in 1998, was called into question in 2004 and fully retracted in 2010. Wakefield, who misrepresented or altered the subjects’ medical histories over the course of his research, lost his license that same year. No scientist has been able to reproduce his results. Major studies by The Journal of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine have failed to find any link between vaccines and autism.This should be more than enough to persuade a rational person that vaccines are safe — or at least as safe as any other simple medical procedure — but there is nothing even remotely rational about the anti-vaccination movement. It’s a dangerous and infuriating melange: poorly articulated fears of “toxins,” a failure to understand the difference between correlation and causation, misleading articles on truther websites, and conspiracy theories that would make Fox Mulder and The Lone Gunmen blush. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around anti-vaxxers’ reasoning. How can you find fault with every single bit of evidence that we have, from every single source, about the safety of vaccines? How can you continuously misread every single fact about their contents? How can you disregard the efficacy of vaccines in the fight against deadly and debilitating illnesses across the globe? If you can’t disregard it, how can you not care? If there really is a connection between autism and vaccines — which there’s not — and Big Pharma and/or The Man really are causing autism through vaccinations, what on earth do you think the end game of this conspiracy is?What upsets me more than the wrongness, though, is the dangerously unfair behavior that results from it. When someone believes asinine things about vaccines, it hurts humanity on an intellectual level. When they put those beliefs into action and refuse to vaccinate their children, it puts all of us at risk of serious illness and death. The current measles outbreak, which has now infected over 100 people in 14 states and is currently spreading into Canada, is a glaring example of what can happen when people put their (ignorant) personal whims against the well-being of their community. Through no fault of their own, unvaccinated children, immunocompromised people, babies too young to receive the vaccination and the occasional vaccinated person (no vaccine is 100 per cent because science is not magic) across the continent are suffering from an infection that was essentially eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. All because a sizable group of mostly-privileged parents have decided that reviving a group of life-threatening di

Source: I’m Autistic, And Believe Me, It’s A Lot Better Than Measles

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