Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Autism Speaks' Poisonous Ideas

The cult of child abuse at Autism Speaks has once again spewed its murderous venom in a magazine article featuring parents who say they sometimes hope their autistic son will drown in a nearby pond and who assert that families with autistic children "all share that hidden, dark thought."

This time, it's two board members of Autism Speaks, Harry and Laura Slatkin, who turn the pity-party spotlight on their twisted fantasies of putting their autistic child out of their misery. There is an obvious and chilling similarity between their interview and the language used by Alison Tepper Singer, the senior vice-president of Autism Speaks, who said in the widely publicized Autism Every Day video in May that she had thought about driving off a bridge with her autistic child in the car. The producer of that video also claimed that all autism parents had such thoughts.

I can reach only one conclusion: the Autism Speaks crowd is so deluded, so full of hate and self-pity and God only knows what else, that they actually believe it is normal to construct detailed scenarios of child murder in one's mind and to talk about them in front of an audience. The implications of such a warped mindset are truly frightening. I'm reminded of a tragedy that occurred 28 years ago in Jonestown, Guyana, where the followers of an apocalyptic religious cult spoke many times about killing themselves and their children. On several occasions, they rehearsed how they would poison their children. When their leader gave the order for a mass suicide, these cultists obediently gave cyanide-laced Kool-Aid to their children and then killed themselves.

Unlike the Jonestown cultists, however, the mere prospect of murdering their own children or grandchildren isn't nearly enough to satisfy the bloodlust of Autism Speaks' leaders. Their avowed intention is to create a world where autism is a word for the history books, where every autistic child, without exception, has been exterminated through prenatal testing and eugenic abortion. Their propaganda is carefully crafted to portray all autistics as hideous beasts for whom death would be a mercy.

This is what I have to say to anyone who has donated to, or otherwise supported, Autism Speaks in the misguided belief that it was a contribution to a good cause:

Don't drink the Kool-Aid.



  • They probably do talk about it, together.

    Argh this is part of several overlapping patterns I can see, none of which I can articulate, but none of which mean any good. (Most of which aren't just part of the autism world, either.)

    By Blogger ballastexistenz, at 12:09 AM  

  • Mum is Thinking: The sentence about the cocktail parties made a weird kind of sense with your original wording. When I read it, I pictured them having an upscale Jonestown massacre, with cyanide in their cocktails and champagne instead of Kool-Aid.

    Yes, you may link to my post when you write to Kellogg; and you're right, it is very hard to find one's "inside voice" when writing about something so vile.

    Joseph: No, I don't believe they harbor such thoughts about their spouses and their other kids. I have to agree with Amanda that they all talk about it with their spouses and probably even with their other kids, in icky group pity sessions.

    I'm reminded of an article I read a while ago, about parents who calmly explained to their "normal" children why they aborted a child that tested positive for Down Syndrome. I found myself pondering whether the "normal" kids spent the rest of their childhood wondering if they, too, might be killed if they started failing their classes or doing anything else that made them seem "retarded." Then I decided that they probably were so naive that it never even occurred to them to wonder such a thing.

    By Blogger abfh, at 8:50 AM  

  • We need to start doing something to combat this erroneous - well, evil, really - propaganda. And I'm talking about stuff as large-scale as Autism Speaks' ad campaign. It's becoming quite obvious that the point is to dehumanize autistic people so that it's not so bad when they start being warehoused and then "euthanized" the way the Jews and disabled were during the Holocaust. It's just taking them longer to get the ball rolling.

    By Blogger Jannalou, at 10:45 AM  

  • They're the ones sitting around talking about their psychopathic murderous fantasies, and calling us mentally defective for hand-flapping and not making eye-contact.

    That does not make sense.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:21 PM  

  • I'm frightened by this. I don't know what else to say except that this kind of thinking just scares the sh*t out of me. :-(

    By Blogger Attila the Mom, at 6:59 PM  

  • I really get the feeling that the parents in Autism Speaks are the kind of people who hold the learning disabled in contempt and were horrified to discover that: "Oh my god my child is one of *them*"!

    By Blogger Redaspie, at 7:03 AM  

  • I just returned from a trip to visit family, and I must have heard something like four different instances of TV commercials sponsored by "Autism Speaks" when I was in the airport. One of them showed a kid being buckled into a car seat and gave some statistic about how a kid is much more likely to be diagnosed with autism than end up in a fatal car wreck.

    I'd never seen or heard any of these ads before, and it rather shocked me. I uttered a spontaneous and audible, "OH PLEASE!" after hearing the "car crash" one.

    Obviously, these people have plenty of money, and rather than doing something useful with it like maybe funding these "services" everyone seems to be clamoring for, they're creating these ridiculous ads.

    By Blogger Zilari, at 1:27 PM  

  • A fatal car wreck? Gah. They couldn't be more blatant about equating an autistic child with a dead child.

    Maybe, if they continue to create such extreme propaganda, it will cause many parents to wise up and see them for what they really are? Or maybe I'm too quick to look for the silver lining in the vomit bucket. I don't know. I just hope and pray that we don't start seeing news stories every day about autistic children being murdered by their parents as a result of these ads.

    By Blogger abfh, at 4:10 PM  

  • Well, I don't think the murders would be a "result" of the ads -- I don't really like to go that route since it seems reminiscent of suggesting that "violent video games" and movies somehow contribute to school shootings, when in fact such things are prompted by very complex sets of circumstances (including very irresponsible parenting -- I mean, how does any kid end up with an arsenal in their bedroom unbeknownst to Mom and Dad?)

    However, I do think it is perfectly appropriate to express that "Autism Speaks" is just plain wrong and inaccurate both in their use of statistics and their portrayals of what life with an autistic child is actually like. In effect, what they're doing is analogous to claiming that the world is flat and that we're all going to be eaten by dragons if we get near the edges.

    It's actually rather confusing to talk about this sort of thing because on one hand, I think people are ultimately responsible for their actions and that nobody can or should claim that a TV ad "made" them kill their child. But on the other hand, such ads are symptomatic of a dangerous and fatalistic attitide surrounding autism, and it seems irresponsible to perpetuate this fatalistic attitude knowing that there are a lot of parents out there genuinely searching for answers and help. It just seems like these "Autism Speaks" folks don't really care very much about autistic children at all -- they're using emotional triggers to target parents who envision some sort of "perfect family" that they're somehow entitled to. I'm not sure why, but I suspect a combination of mob mentality and intellectual laziness.

    By Blogger Zilari, at 4:53 PM  

  • Yes, mob mentality is a very accurate way to put it. A century ago, when thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens took part in lynch mobs, they were of course responsible for their own actions, but would the lynchings have happened if the Ku Klux Klan and bloodthirsty journalists hadn't fanned the flames of hatred? Quite likely not.

    By Blogger abfh, at 7:09 PM  

  • *Do the board members of Autism Speaks sit around talking about how they wish they could kill their children over cocktails, at dinner parties?*

    Yes, while their nannies and au pairs - trained in ABA and floor time- supervise and care for their "damaged" children.

    I went through my grief period and then, hey, I got over myself and got busy being a good mother. These women make me sick.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:15 PM  

  • Re: "Don't Speak for Me" petition

    Dear Autistic Byoch,

    I have no affiliation with "Autism Speaks." I am the parent of an autistic child. Unfortunatley,
    my son Owen does not (speak). The realities that apparently are portrayed in this video (which I have not seen)
    are gratefully not yours, so "Autism Speaks" doesn't, in fact, speak for you.
    You obviously ......can speak for yourself. How nice for you that
    doesn't portray your personal little "reality."

    My son doesn't sleep through the night, he *does* get his diaper changed at age 7,
    it is a struggle to brush his teeth and does have public meltdowns.

    We live in a city with many bridges and my wife often mentions driving of one
    of them (by herself, i.e suicide)

    I was wondering how you would feel in a similar situation, you lack the empathy
    to do so yourself. I hope you never give birth to an child with autism because
    you obviously could not handle it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:44 PM  

  • Owen's dad: Many of the Autism Hub bloggers, including the Hub's administrator, Kevin Leitch, do in fact have autistic children who have (or have had in the past) difficulties similar to those you describe. Also, many of us have frankly acknowledged that we were not the easiest children to raise.

    Please take the time to read more of the blogs on the Hub before you pass judgment.

    We do not object to respectful efforts to raise awareness of the needs of autistic children and their families, but that does not include condoning child murder and funding eugenics research. (Autism Speaks provides no services whatsoever; donations are being used to develop a prenatal test for autism.)

    Is your wife in counseling and/or on medication for her depression? Frequent suicidal thoughts are NOT a natural part of raising an autistic child. Please see to it that your wife gets help, if she hasn't already.

    By Blogger abfh, at 10:16 AM  

  • i am sitting hear crying... not from sadness, from joy. as a parent to an autistic child and a wife to an un-dx aspie -- i can not tell you how much i LOATHE -- no HATE autism speaks. i never knew there were others out there. it never occured to me that there would be websites, hubs, blogs dedicated to debunking that crap. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU living with JOY! that, JOY, is my only wish for my family. no cures, pills or today show special.

    By Blogger whereismommy?, at 11:19 PM  

  • Whereismommy, I'm glad that my blog added to your joy. But just to make sure I'm not being given credit for accomplishments that aren't mine, I should mention that I am not the person who created either the petition or Autism Hub; it's Kev Leitch who deserves to be thanked for that.

    By Blogger abfh, at 11:15 AM  

  • As a person who worked with a student who did tragically drown accidentally in the neighborhood pond, the whole autism speaks sickens me. I, and the student's family and other loved ones have been horribly devastated by our loss of this student. We loved her for her, strenghts and limitations in all, highs and lows, just like any child. I'd love for ATS to spend one minute with that student's family. I'm sure they'd trade places with her in a heartbeat.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:01 PM  

  • Is this all you people do is sit around and spew hate? What a ridiculous remark to suggest Autism Speaks parents sit around talking about wishing their children dead. One mom said she felt a moment of despair when she thought that. It was not a lifetime goal. I can't imagine what it would be like to be you guys and have to live with such far out and negative opinions of fellow human beings. How about a little of the understanding and pride you have have fellow autistics (which is good) being allowed to the rest of us mere humans trying to help our children be the best that they can be. You don't seem able to even imagine how much we love our children to be willing to give so much of ourselves to help them. We could just sit back and say "oh well"! That is the lazy man's (woman's) way. An excuse for not doing everything you can to make your child's life better. Yes, better - according to the world's standards because you darn well better believe this is where your children are going to have to live and function. I think some of you have real mental problems. I apologize if that is a part of autism and you cannot help it. I would not degrade you for it in that case.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:21 AM  

  • Whats wrong with wanting to kill autistic children? They are a waste of volume, a drain on the welfare system and not fit to be considered human beings.They are human excrement at best.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:55 PM  

  • Thanks for bringing us back here Estee - before my time by a few months.

    By Blogger Maddy, at 7:44 PM  

  • I'm sorry, but I support Autism Speaks very much. My son who is 8 has autism and was only diagnosed a year and a half ago. I know where some of these parents are coming from. Before he was diagnosed I felt that sometimes he would be better off without me, and I used to pray to God (my mother was a minister, so please do not judge) everyday asking him what to do, is it me or is he on the path of death. I used to feel so useless as I took him out to just have at least 5 temper tantrums in a matter of 2 hours of being in public. Now that he is finally diagnosed, I am now fully aware of what is going on and now know that hope was what brought me to that day of diagnosis. Hope is what brings me through every day with him. As a parent to a "normal" child, it is easy to say that a parent to an autistic child having these types of thoughts that are mentioned throughout the blog is wrong, but in reality we only want our children to see the world as it is and not be in their own world inside themselves. It is frustrating to watch your child not know who you may be and not be able to play with other children because other children's parents feel that it isn't right to have their child play with a "retarded" child. I feel that people really need to understand the full reality of what an parent of an autistic child goes through along with their families. It is heartwrenching and exhausting, as it isn't only the child that needs to have the therapies but the parents as well that need to with them in order to learn how to keep consistent which is so important. I think next time a "normal" child's parents end up staying up all night, think about what it would be like to do that for weeks on end, or the next time your toddler needs a bum change, think about what it is emotionally and psychologically like to have to change your 8 year old.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:46 PM  

  • I'm sorry but autistic children are just the same as down syndrome, full of hope for a brighter future. Did you not know that some of the greatest people in the world are autistic or on the autistic spectrum Ex-Vice President Al Gore, Bill Gates, Beethoven, Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson, Thomas Jefferson, Isaac Newton, Keanu Reeves even Dan Akroyd has Aspergers and has even stated it and proved with documentation on interviews. To say that autistic children are excrement at best is pathetic and you do not deserve to be a parent at all to any child, and if you are I feel sorry for your children. To pass on this type of attitude is like passing on racism, which is basically what you are being...racist to the disabled community. Just think of how the parent of any autistic child (including myself) will feel when our child is older and they are doing just as well as the people above while yours is not. They may not have the ability to socialize or have normal behaviours, but they do have minds that are beyond words as most autistic children's traits are an extremely high IQ which makes them Savante. Grow up and grow a heart!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:58 PM  

  • I am a mother of 4. I have and 11 year old (normal), an 8 year old (autistic), a 7 year old (adhd), and a 6 year old girl (normal). All normal pregnancies except for my daughter being born 2 months early. I have to say that I'm appalled that any parent could even fathom the idea of killing one of their own children. Having 2 normal and 2 with diablities I can even comprehend their way of thinking, each one of them are their own persons, have their own likes and dislikes, as a mother I learned what each of them were. My husband and I just found out last year that our 8 year old is on the spectrum, yeah at first it was devasting to hear, but that didn't change the way we felt about him one iota. We learned how to modify our discplining with him, our dinners, because he will only eat certain things, and we had better have ketchup in the house to go with what he was eating. But to the person who said that "Whats wrong with wanting to kill autistic children? They are a waste of volume, a drain on the welfare system and not fit to be considered human beings.They are human excrement at best." Try putting youself in the shoes of one of us parents who have a child with autism, and how would you feel. I'm outraged that you could even say something like that. They breath, feel, hurt, bleed, and scare just like us. My son has autism to explain his behaviour, what's your excuse.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:28 AM  

  • You know, people like you really make an already difficult thing a lot worse.

    I don't know what your issue is, but I don't think you know what it is like to raise an autist. I don't think you are one either, you just seem like an asshole.

    Have you adopted any of these children that you claim are so misunderstood and mistreated? Are you going to?

    I think you are just another person trying to get some attention. Well, you just got some. You most likely label yourself something you weren't ever diagnosed as being too...


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:34 AM  

  • I am mother of 4yr old autistic twins and my children are my life but, I still I have to agree with Katelyn...it's ridiculous to say

    "Do the board members of Autism Speaks sit around talking about how they wish they could kill their children over cocktails, at dinner parties?"

    Shame on you for demonizing someone who in a moment of weakness and desperation had a terrible thought.

    We have ALL at one time or another had a thought we should not have whether or not we want to admit it, perhaps in a moment of anger or despair. It is natural and it is human. In my opinion I think it took guts for her to be so honest in telling us how she was feeling at that very moment.

    She wasn't saying that it was her goal in life to figure out someway to kill her child.

    Now a person is viewed as evil and gets ripped to shreds for being honest and expressing that fact that they had a bad thought in a moment of despair. You've got to be kidding me!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:20 PM  

  • Look, anyone that states they'd kill themself or their child is a complete nutjob!!! I'm the parent of an Autistic son, and he's awesome. People often say, "I bet it's difficult, huh?" What? He's the only child my wife and I have... it's all we know... so it's perfectly normal to us. That may sound weird, but we simply don't have anything else to compare it to. And as far as 'difficult,'... well, it's difficult if you have a 'normal' child that murders a neighbor or kills a family b/c of their brunk driving, or dies of a drug overdose, or calls from jail at 3am, or complains everytime you ask him/her to do something, or dates someone that you know will cause trouble... right? My child won't do those things. Not b/c he's autistic, but b/c my wife and I love him... and we place every focus on first, loving God, then each other, then on loving him. We each have 'grace' based relationships... meaning we do things for each other expecting absolutely nothing in return. Too many parents these days want to spend all their time on vacations 'away from the kids.' They're simply a lazy generation of parents. They feel it's all 'about them.' IT'S NOT!!! It's really about their kids... they're just to self centered to realize or admit it. So is it hard raising a child with Autism? Not any harder than raising a child without it... it's your child for crying out loud. Who cares if it's hard or not. ALL relationships take effort... not 50%/50%, but 100%/100%... from both parties 100% of the time. many parents wil tell you that they love their children, and then you'll find out that they know nothing that's going on in the child's life. Many can't even name 20 friends their child has. You see, as parents, we don't determine the amount of love a child feels... the child determines that. Killing kids b/c there's something a little different about them... wow, I sure am glad my parents didn't kill me everytime they felt I was different... or everytime I acted out or was difficult. These people are completely derranged. Like I said, they have the "IT'S ALL ABOUT ME" attitude, and they seem to be giving the parents of Autistic children a very disenfranchised stigma. MY CHILD'S AUTISTIC - AND I COULDN'T KILL ANYONE... NOT EVEN THESE NUTTY PEOPLE THAT THINK THEY COULD KILL THEIR AUTISTIC KIDS! There, put that in your pipe and smoke it. I feel like calling them right now... I think I will.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 11:31 PM  

  • so they wana kill us huh, then bring it ,set up and time and a place im the court of law i can take the anti Autisic satanist (damn right i said satanist) out in chains

    By Blogger Glyth, at 7:12 PM  

  • I don't think it's propoganda at all. I find it hard to believe that it's a proposterous thought to be miserable and desperate at times with your thoughts when dealing with an Autistic child. I have an Autistic child and it's NOT fun-it's down right miserable most of the time. I have met hundreds of people just like me. We are taught that we should never express such harsh feelings like that, but honestly I think that it's refreshing that people can be realistic about having those feelings. Maybe then they can keep their sanity when they realize they aren't alone in those feelings.
    Having a child with Autism is not a gift or special or anything like that-It's a horrible dissorder for a child to have-to be trapped in their head. I think we would all say that if we could have the Autism dissapear tomorrow we would.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:33 PM  

  • ""Whats wrong with wanting to kill autistic children? They are a waste of volume, a drain on the welfare system and not fit to be considered human beings.They are human excrement at best.""

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:55 PM

    that would be Harry and Laura Slatkin everyone

    wanting to kill us autistics they wrote that comment in quotes

    By Blogger Glyth, at 12:29 AM  

  • I grew up with a little brother with Down's Syndrome who was also on the autism spectrum. I have worked as a Sped tutor in a public elementary school for close to 10 years, and I have worked with at least one autistic student each year.

    Even if you "think" the controversial thoughts in question, you are better off dealing with it within your confidential relationships. If you are considered a "role model," you have even more of a responsibility to keep it to yourself. It is irresponsible and unnecessary to share these kinds of sentiments to a wide audience who are looking to you for guidance and support. In that position an optimistic and positive message is appropriate while this kind of rhetoric is unnacceptable.
    What is a parent of a recently diagnosed child supposed to think when they look to what they think will be a helpful resource to encourage a happy family and social environment and see this crap?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:29 PM  

  • Why should any parent have to suffer by bringing up an autistic child if first-trimester termination is a detectable option? And it's not just the parents that suffer, but society, too, because of the much higher cost of caring for such children. How many healthy minority inner-city kids will be deprived of a decent education because we have to pay $50,000/year for a severely autistic child who stands little chance of ever contributing to society in a meaningful manner? Of course, once a child is born, that's a different story.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:35 PM  

  • "How many healthy minority inner-city kids will be deprived of a decent education..."

    Ironically, in its first go-round a century ago, eugenics was specifically intended to reduce the number of minority inner-city kids, who were thought to stand little chance of ever contributing to society in a meaningful manner.

    By Blogger abfh, at 10:52 AM  

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