An Open Letter to Anti-Vaxxer Parents from an Autistic Woman

Dear Parents:

Your presence on Facebook and on the internet has been quite prominent lately. I can barely make it through one day without seeing a post from one of you shared on Facebook or elsewhere on the internet.

Let me introduce myself. I am a 21 year old woman. I’m currently studying forensic science in college. I have a passion for science (particularly chemistry), reading, and video games. But above all else, I am autistic.

I have been diagnosed officially with autism spectrum disorder, after a battle that ensued over several years. I have always known I was different, but I never understood why I was so different from my peers. Yes, I have had many struggles when it comes to socialization. Yes, I’ve spent much of my life having attempted to fit in with my classmates. Yes, I’ve had a tough time dealing with sensory issues that have often caused high amounts of stress. Yes, I’m extremely rigid when it comes to routines. However, I have managed to make friends, learn how to adapt to life, and I have successfully pursued a college degree for the past 3 years in the area of my special interest.

Why do you view my fate as one that is worse than a crippling disease or even death? Why?

One of my friends who is also on the autism spectrum, Teighlor Fiddler, sums up what your view says to us on the spectrum well. She says, of those who are against vaccines, that “They rather have dead children than have children like me”. That is exactly what your fight against vaccines (as a result of the “vaccines cause autism” argument) says to those on the spectrum. That you, as parents, would prefer that your child be dead or have a serious disease than have autism.

Stop and think about that for a moment. It tells us on the spectrum that autism is a fate worse than death or crippling disease.

How are we supposed to feel about that, knowing that there are a growing number of parents out there that think that we are worse off than those who are dead? What does that say to us? That we are horrible, worthless, and a waste of space. It does not make us feel hopeful about our future. It makes us feel judged and misunderstood by society. I cannot even begin to put into words how awful this makes me feel, to know that there are parents out there who consider someone like me to be someone who is living a life that is worse than death.

Let me tell you something, autism is not a fate that is worse than death or some of the worst diseases imaginable. And before you ask, no, it is not a disease. It may not make for a life that is smooth sailing all of the time, but it is something that I wouldn’t give up for the world. To assert that a child would be better off living with a horrible disease or even worse, dead, shows great ignorance on your part. It is clear to me that you have not, or will not, see the positive in an autistic person. Because let me tell you, you see absolutely no positive in autism if you consider it worse than death.

Like I’ve said, autism isn’t always a bucket of positivity, but even in the lowest of my moments, I can still see the positives. My autism has given me a passion for forensic science that has allowed me to persevere through all of my academic struggles. Without it, I wouldn’t still be pursuing my passion today. It has given me an outstanding memory that has proved useful throughout my life. It has given me the ability to notice things around me that others often don’t notice.

So tell me again, why is a life like mine worse than death?

Sincerely,

An Autistic Woman who is going to keep fighting against this warped view of autism

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