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Transcontinental Disability Choir: We're not looking for Pity: The Trouble With Poster Children

Gosh, did you hear? Earlier this year, Jerry Lewis received a humanitarian award for all the awesome work he's done, presenting children with muscular dystrophy as objects to be pitied, who will never work or have jobs! Because only children have muscular dystrophy, and gosh darn it, they all want and need a cure! Isn't it great?

I am just so proud that the Academy Awards gave the man who said "if you don't want to be pitied for being a cripple in a wheelchair, don't come out of the house" a humanitarian award for being so good and giving to those wretched disabled children! I do hope that everyone gives money to a man who said "You might as well put a gun in your mouth" after you find out you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (that's ALS- Lou Gehrig's Disease). And heaven knows that money goes to really important stuff - like a CURE! - because things like wheelchairs and accessible transportation and helping families get their homes renovated to be fully accessible would be a total waste of that money, right? Why help people with disabilities now when in the future, they may have a CURE!

Okay, I'll cut the sarcastic tone for a bit. I think I've made my point of view clear.

Telethons and donation drives raise a lot of money, and the best way they do that is by showing the general public an image that will invoke either pity or outrage. Pity is often easier, so over and over, in an effort to raise funds to "help" people with disabilities, the worst, saddest, most pathetic images one can come up with are shown. In the end, this "help" leads to the final image in people's heads: having a disability is horrible, pathetic, and sad, and we should all feel nothing but pity for people trapped in the prison of their own body.

The annual Jerry Lewis Labour Day Telethon in the US has been the subject of protests since 1991 from people with Muscular Dystrophy and other disabilities. This culminated in The Trouble With Jerry, a protest held over the weekend of the Academy Awards this year, when Lewis received his Humanitarian Award. Although they had sent letters and petitions to the Academy, laying out their issues with both the telethon and with Lewis' known bigotry against people with disabilities, women, and gays, they got this response:

It's perfectly fair for any of us to retain reservations about those individuals whom we see the world lavishing praise on. Heroes are rarely perfect in every respect, and none of us has an obligation to pretend that we see only their heroic qualities. At the same time, our awareness of some scratches in the paint job shouldn't lead us to dismiss the virtues of a Lamborghini.

Because how dare people with disabilities want to have their concerns about how they're presented every year be taken seriously? It's really just complaints about paint jobs, rather than something that affects us every day, in how we are perceived and treated by the general public.

Of course, the Jerry Lewis Telethon isn't the only regular event that reminds people that Disability = Bad/Horrible/Awful/Pity. We can't forget the campaigns by Autism Speaks, an organisation supported by Lindt Chocolate and Alfonso Cuaron, amongst many other famous names. They produce videos like "I am Autism" [Transcript]:

In summary: Autism is horrible and scary and bad but all these people who don't have autism are coming together and they'll fight it! They'll make it all better! They have a VOICE! (Not heard: actual people with autism.)

Autism Speaks is notable for not having a single person with Autism on their Board of Directors. Every time they release another campaign, like the one where a parent with an autistic child described wanting to kill her daughter and herself while her daughter was in the room, people with Autism launch another protest. Being that Yoko Ono was supporting Autism Speaks earlier this year, you can see how effective the protests of actual autistics have been. But gosh, Autism sure sounds scary! I hope they continue to try and find a genetic test for it, so that no children with autism will ever be born!

The voices of actual people with Autism, just like the voices of many adults with Muscular Dystrophy, are ignored by these scary scary pity parties because it makes it harder to bring in money. Showing adults that "only" need help with things like paying for attendants so they can live their lives, or for computer software that will make it easier for them to communicate, isn't nearly as effective as a crying mother who just wants her daughter - who has a graduate degree, but also has muscular dystrophy - to be able to pick up a phone.

These campaigns have money. The Labour Day Telethon has been running for decades, with hours and hours of television time. Autism Speaks has the ear of celebrities and access to award-winning directors. They could be presenting people with disabilities in a variety of situations, showing how various needs can be met through accommodations. They could show people with disabilities living their lives, both the difficulties and the triumphs, and how necessary things like accessible housing, part-time work schemes, affordable transport, drug plans that work, amongst many others, are.

Instead, these campaigns reinforce the idea, as presented by Jerry Lewis himself, that people with disabilities are "half a person", that they shouldn't have a voice in their own campaigns - that they can't have a voice that's louder than "thank you for your nice support" That people with disabilities should be grateful for what they're given, because otherwise their lives would continue to be pitiable and pathetic. That people with disabilities are all children, because having a disability is a death sentence.

There are actual campaigns run by people with disabilities that need support, both financially and in volunteer hours. I don't want to link any here, because the readership is international, and because I have not vetted any charities that I do not directly benefit from.

We don't want your pity. We don't want to be shown as objects of pity. We want to be treated like human beings.

Don't support Poster Children Campaigns for disability. Support actual people with disabilities.

Further Information:
The Kids are All Right is a half-hour documentary about a renegade Jerry's Kid named Mike Ervin. A Muscular Dystrophy Association poster child in the 1960s, today Mike is an outspoken disability rights activist who challenges the MDA 's representation of people with disabilities in its Labor Day telethon through his activist group, Jerry's Orphans. [Available online, subtitled] Watch while they try and stop protesters by putting a bunch of chairs in the hallway, since the protesters are wheelchair users.

From Poster Child to Protester, by Laura Hershey.

Jerry Lewis vs Disability Rights Activists [OPENS WITH SOUND!]

The Trouble With Jerry

Protest Pity [WARNING: comments have become filled with spam] is the 2007 Blogswarm against the Telethon

Tell Lindt Chocolate that Autism Speaks Don't Speak For Us

Autism Speaks Deceives Parents

Why Autism Speaks Doesn't Speak For Me

Autistics Speak For Themselves

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Comments

19 comments have been made. Post a comment.

For heaven's sake, don't be

For heaven's sake, don't be an idiot. As a teacher of kids with severe autism and a person who has had extensive experience with the pain of the disorder, I believe you are being incredibly shortsighted.

One of the major obstacles Autistic individuals face is that the disorder itself inhibits communication abilities. Many of the children in my school are unable to speak, type, or express needs. They cannot say yes or no, cannot point to what they want, tell us they are afraid or in pain, hungry, anxious, or fed up. We (the teachers, children's family, administration) put every ounce of effort into helping them communicate. We practice self-advocacy day after day, hoping that god forbid, if someone ever hurts them in any way, they can let someone know.

We also help our higher functioning kids learn job skills, join clubs, develop hobbies, and make long-term choices. However, many of our kids do not yet have the functioning ability to do these things. They need help going to the bathroom and bathing, they need to learn how to ride safely in cars and to look both ways before running into the street. They need to learn what "yes" and "no" mean, and how to use them. Sometimes these skills take years to learn.

These families struggle to pay the annual tuition to go to schools that specialize in the disorder. The tuition is higher than any college I've heard of, and if a school district refuses to pay for it, families often take multiple jobs and even refinance their houses.

Some of the mothers of these children are on the Autism Speaks board.

These children CANNOT speak for themselves. Their parents put every ounce of effort into enabling them to do so. In the meantime, they rally and fund raise and attempt to raise awareness so that other families can seek earlier intervention than they themselves were allowed.

How dare you accuse them of pushing their own children down. They are doing everything they can.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Anonymous commenters totally put me in my place

Yes, I'm deeply ashamed for pointing out that autistic people don't need to be demonized for fundraising purposes.

I am deeply deeply ashamed that I would even link to Autism Speaks, so that someone who is part of it could come here and proudly point out that there are no autistic people on their board of directors.

Thank you for your insightful commentary.

Are you aware,

That "idiot" itself is ableist language? Maybe you should be the one ashamed of yourself.

What I wonder is where your disconnect is here. This essay seemed to make a great case for helping people speak for themselves, but you're stuck on doing it for them. The fact remains that, despite your poster children, there ARE autistic people who CAN speak for themselves and are PREVENTED from doing so by the very people who claim they are "helping" them. That is absolutely disgusting.

And this is a good thing why?

Some of the mothers of these children are on the Autism Speaks board.

And one of them, in fact, said that she was so frustrated she wanted to drive her kid off a bridge. Now, that's one thing-- I don't doubt her frustration in the least-- but she said this, quite literally, right in front of the daughter in question. And this whole exchange was filmed, not for private purposes, but to be included in yet another of Autism Speaks' promotional videos.

To be fair, she has since left Autism Speaks' board. But not because of anything to do with that video clip, of course.

The phrase "with friends like these, who needs enemies?" comes to mind...

Translation: For heaven's

(Edit: Please note, I do not think that all parents/teachers/doctors are evil soulless abusers or anything like that. I do think that many people who care about the kids they work with are very severely misguided by an ableist system. I do think parents/teachers/doctors can be allies to PWD and can help them achieve a better position and better life. But if they're gonna do that, they first HAVE to step back and learn how to work WITH pwd, rather than FOR them. And this comment is my angry, sarcastic way of showing exactly why "for" is so very harmful.)

Translation:

For heaven's sake, don't be an idiot.

Hello, I am a person who thinks it is completely appropriate to use a demeaning, demonizing, hurtful and damaging insult for disabled people in response to a disabled person trying to tell people they are hurting others.

I am going to pretend to be a friend of disabled people, even as I am opening my comment by putting them down.

As a teacher of kids with severe autism and a person who has had extensive experience with the pain of the disorder

I'm not actually autistic, but I can FEEL THEIR PAAAAAIN.

Alternately: People with autism cause the rest of the world awful pain simply by existing as their own selves! This does not in any way demean people with autism, oh no. It does not in any way position them as being transgressors to the standard of ability set by non-autistic people. It does not in any way lay the responsibility for an ignorant and hostile society on the people who are different. It does not in any way make it out like those people are fucking up simply by existing, and that if they want to stop fucking things up they have to stop existing as they are, which is impossible without them stopping existing period.

Nah. I can FEEL THEIR PAIN.

Many of the children in my school are unable to speak, type, or express needs. They cannot say yes or no, cannot point to what they want, tell us they are afraid or in pain, hungry, anxious, or fed up.

Even though these individuals can clearly express themselves, because they express themselves in a different way than I do, that means they are unable to truly express themselves at all. If someone doesn't communicate my way, they are unable to communicate. Oh, and of course the only things they would ever have to communicate would be fear and pain and anxiety. (And if they feel those things, I wonder why that would be? Maybe the way the rest of the world treats them like a tragedy that shouldn't exist and fucks up everything around them?)

We (the teachers, children's family, administration) put every ounce of effort into helping them communicate

We try to force people to be something they are not for our own convenience. We could never put the effort into learning THEIR system of communication. We could never change what WE are or how WE do things in order to understand and interact with them. No, because we are Right and they are Wrong, therefore THEY are the ones who must be changed.

We practice self-advocacy day after day

You know the word "self" in "self-advocacy," that doesn't mean anything. Please ignore it, because if you don't, you'll realize that it is impossible for me, a non-autistic person, to practice "self-advocacy" for autistic people, because I am not the "self" at issue.

I can't be bothered to let someone else do what they want and need even when it contradicts what I want for them, so I will "practice self-advocacy" by completely overrunning the individuals with that "self," taking over expression for them, and shouting them down whenever they do speak up in a way that I do not like. Remember, the "self" is silent! It doesn't mean anything! Don't pay attention to it, please! I can't "self-advocate" if I let that "self" actually DO anything! I have to make sure it stays completely silent and subordinate to me!

Really, I swear it, climbing on top of someone else's back and telling the world what *I* want to hear is TOTALLY equivalent to stepping back and letting that person tell the world what *THEY* want to say. TOTALLY EQUIVALENT.

We also help our higher functioning kids learn job skills, join clubs, develop hobbies, and make long-term choices.

"High functioning" individuals are easier on our egos because they are more like us. We are going to equate "functioning" (the ability to do what you need to do to live your life as you want it) with "behaving the same way I behave, approaching things the same way I approach them, doing things the same way I do them, making the choices I would make," OK? Because, again, TOTALLY EQUIVALENT.

However, many of our kids do not yet have the functioning ability to do these things

PITY THEM THOSE POOR SOULS WHO AREN'T EXACTLY LIKE ME ISN'T IT A TRAGEDY?

Sometimes these skills take years to learn.

Sometimes it takes years to finally beat them into submission.

Some of the mothers of these children are on the Autism Speaks board.

Being a non-autistic, non-disabled relative of an individual with autism is TOTALLY JUST THE SAME as being an individual with autism. My credibility as a relative or person close to individuals with autism is actually HIGHER than individuals with autism themselves! Because they say things I don't like, and I know that I know better than them what they need, and CLEARLY my nondisability, non-autisticness means that my opinions and my way of doing things is the right way. So those people can easily be shoved in a closet, preferably gagged. They're awfully inconvenient to my attempts to "help" (read: control) them.

Oh, and there totally isn't a history of family members, teachers, therapists and other nondisabled, non-autistic adults "handling" people with autism in an abusive and cruel way. IGNORE THAT HISTORY IT DOESN'T EXIST. I can't address that history, because that might take away that higher credibility I keep positioning myself as having! If I address that history, it might mean I have to STEP BACK AND LET THEM TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN DAMN SELVES, and try to support them in their endeavors! And I CAN'T HANDLE NOT BEING IN CONTROL OF THEM.

Maybe this has something to do with why the board of directors does not and never will accept an actual autistic person on it to help make decisions about the organization's focus? .... NAH.

These children CANNOT speak for themselves.

PLEASE BELIEVE ME. If you don't, then I suddenly might not matter anymore! They can't speak for themselves! Really! Don't listen to those ones over there speaking for themselves, listen to MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Their parents put every ounce of effort into enabling them to do so.

No comment.

How dare you accuse them of pushing their own children down.

It might hurt their feelings. That's totes more important than the abuse their children are suffering.

They are doing everything they can.

They just don't really care what it is they are actually doing.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

SHUT UP ALREADY, WILL YOU. You're awfully inconvenient to me.

As someone who came here and

As someone who came here and found the article itself very convincing, I have to say, these commenters reacting to the teacher's emotional comment are giving me pause.

She's talking about working with severely disabled kids. You responders are acting like she's ignoring the differently-abled communications of functioning autistic people when she's explaining that some of the kids she works with can't safely ride in a car.

It makes me look at the article itself in another light.

By the way, article author, it's a little frustrating to tell people to support causes that help disabled people speak for themselves, then specifically not link to causes because you haven't vetted them. So readers are supposed to do the legwork themselves, based on what? What basis do I have to judge whether a charity passes muster in this respect? No one at Bitch could be bothered to take some time and even begin to make such a list or provide some guidance? Huh.

Why is the pain of the abled

Why is the pain of the abled teacher easier to identify with than the pain of the children and adults with autism and other disabilities who have been adversely effected by how they were treated by (some well-meaning, some not) adult authority figures in their lives?

Why is it that it's so easy for us to run straight over the feelings of the PWD, stumbling over ourselves not to dare offend any abled person?

And, well, because I have to say it, I am speaking for *me.* Don't read my pain and anger and use it to dismiss Anna's words. Because she has her own voice, and her own mind, and she speaks for herself. It's not fair to her.

If you're going to condemn someone because I don't avoid saying something I believe deeply to be true just because it might upset any, even one, person who might otherwise nominally be my ally (because if they can't be bothered to be my ally when I'm actually speaking from my experience, speaking truthfully about how I am affected by something -- can only be bothered when I'm silent and easy to speak "for" -- then they would never have been a true ally to begin with) -- condemn ME. It's not fair to other people to use my words against them.

I have my style. Take issue with my style if you want. They have their own style. Don't use my style against them when it is not one they use.

Thank you.

Why I don't provide a list of charities

I can give you a list of charities in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, if you'd like. I'm very supportive of the wheelchair recycling program.

But I think you'd be better off looking for charities in your own country and evaluating them yourself. What makes a charity a good thing to you? What would you support? What makes your feel that things are being effective.

What I look for in a charity is who is on the Board of Directors, and what sort of support they offer. To be frank, I only have so much energy in a day, and to give an appropriate number of responses so that people can find something in their city, state/province or country would be too much for me to do, on top of the other work I do.

I can't evaluate charities for you, because I do not know what best supports your values, what country you live in, or what your primary concern is.

But the wheelchair recycling program in Halifax is awesome.

Actually, a number of

Actually, a number of organizations evaluate charities and provide information to the public. It takes about two seconds to look them up, but here are a few: http://www.charitynavigator.org/ http://www.bbb.org/us/charity/ http://www.charityguide.org/volunteer/charityratings.htm http://www2.guidestar.org/

Using your personal beliefs about the causes you want to donate to, perhaps you can use these sites as resources to identify charities which behave ethically and responsibly. (For example, charities which keep administration costs low, are transparent about their practices, etc.)

Once you've narrowed down some charities you're interested in, you can try running searches like "reviews of [charity name]" to see what people are saying about them.

Yes, readers are supposed to do the legwork. Because Anna has no idea where readers live, what kinds of causes they support, and so forth; she can't vet every charity in the world and generate an international list of charities she, personally, thinks are good to donate to. It's up to donors to be responsible about where their funds end up.

Pity Parties= The Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It more often than not disturbs me how year in and year out people are buying into these "charities" (such as MDA and Autism Speaks) that are really just corporate structures getting away with tax-exempt statuses that are actually more about filling their coffers than actually helping people.

This excellent and very important book will really change the way you think about charity as-we-are-told-about-it by the mainstream media and will really make you think twice before giving to causes that have more than enough corporate/wealth backing.

Ever watch the MDA Z-list entertainment telethon and witness parades of companies donating to Jerry's annual "pity-party?" If companies can do that, then I don't have to.

I make sure I only give to grassroots causes where I know for certain that the money I give is going directly to help honestly needy people that have absolutely no interest in being poster children at all. They really don't want any attention, especially media and/or reality-show cameras following them at the every waking hour they feel happy to just being alive. These community-based groups function effectively on as few "administrative" costs as possible - and because they are not "advertised" - they are more often than not in desperate need of ca$h just to keep functioning. Sorry I don't have links to any, but look within your own communities and you may discover that they were right in front of your faces all along.

It's even more difficult for women on the autism spectrum

I am so happy to see this post! At first I was concerned because the post centered on physical disabilities, which do seem to have a far higher profile than "invisible" developmental disabilities such as autism. The fight for those individuals has been going on for a long time. For those of us on the autism spectrum, our battle is still in its infancy, yet autism has raced to the fore of America's consciousness in just ten years since Asperger's syndrome was added to the DSM-IV.

There are particular challenges that women on the autism spectrum are faced with. When a condition is referred to as "an extreme form of the male brain," I find myself asking, "Well, where does that leave me?" Women on the spectrum go underdiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or not diagnosed at all, because autism presents differently in women than it does in men, and the established diagnostic criteria were created observing boys and men. Thus, we have the statistic of "four times as many boys than girls get autism," when the truth is that there probably are as many girls with autism who simply go unnoticed.

Another reason for that is the socialization of women in society, which is impressed upon young girls almost from birth. Women are taught to be social and to "bond" via emotions, so many women on the spectrum are able to compensate, and their introversion is not looked upon as strange or "abnormal" because women are expected to be docile and quiet. Yet if they have tantrums or meltdowns (as I did as a child), then something is "out of whack." Whereas boys with autism having similar outbursts is more understood, because boys are "permitted" more to outwardly express emotions in that way.

So for my part, I am doing all that I can to heighten awareness of the existence of women on the autism spectrum, for one, and awareness of the unique needs faced by these women. I'm trying to do this through public speaking, through writing (such as the book that I am working on), and through other public activism (such as attending a national town hall sponsored by the AFAA--Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism--a terrific organization) and trying to be a voice for those who do not have one.

I thank the author again for this post, for dispelling the notion of pity and monstrosity as 'acceptable' avenues to seemingly scare people into helping individuals with autism. Autism Speaks' campaign (along with NYU's earlier "Ransom Notes" campaign) was so offensive for precisely that reason. We are not asking for pity, or sympathy; neither do we wish to be shunned or feared, but instead simply acknowledged. To know that what we have to say is valuable and worthwhile, and that there is no source, no authority that speaks higher of an individual's life with autism than that individual him or herself.

This is a great post, thank

This is a great post, thank you for it.

One quibble, do you mind putting a note after the "Jerry Lewis vs Disability Rights Activists" link letting people know it has audio that automatically starts playing when you open the page?

I feel like the thing people like the first commenter on this post forget is that Autism is a spectrum. Yes, there are people with Autism who cannot communicate with their families or take care of themselves. But even they shouldn't be subjects of pity. A former roommate of mine works for a company that runs independent living homes for adults with severe developmental disabilities including severe autism. The guys she works with are mostly nonverbal and need a caretaker with them 24 hours a day, but nevertheless they live full lives. They have opinions and interests that they are more than capable of expressing. They have jobs they go to a couple days a week, and look forward to going to a summer camp every year. They are lucky, because the staff that work with them (at least the ones I have met) recognize that you can provide help and care without pity and that requiring assistance doesn't mean they don't have dignity and deserve respect.

On the other end of the spectrum there are people like my friend K, who had developed a variety of coping mechanisms to handle her autism in her everyday life, but who wouldn't want a "cure" even if there was one. Autism is part of who she is, it's part of how she looks at and interacts with the world, "curing" that would be like cutting out a piece of her personality just to make her somehow less "inconvenient" for other people.

And my, I used scare quotes a lot in that, sorry. I'd revise, but typing this comment has made me about 10 minutes late for running out the door for an appointment. *runs*

Thank you!

Both for you comment, and for the reminder of the warning - I'd opened the link with my volume turned off.

Exploitative

These kinds of campaigns have always bothered me because of the exploitative nature of them, and it's like they're putting these people on display. It's just not the right way to raise awareness about autism and other disabilities. I will help people because I want to, not because I feel compelled to because of guilt or pity. It's the same as those infomercials that feature starving children in Africa or Mexico. It's just exploitative.

I do see a lot of problems with the video posted on autism, but I think it also brings up a lot of good points, a lot of people are ignorant of what autism is, but it uses scare tactics and makes parents afraid of what autism is, and God forbid their child gets it. It also reminds me of those parents who refuse to vaccinate their children because they are convinced that it causes autism, as if autism is the worst think in the world, even though vaccines prevent illnesses that could be fatal. It's not the worst thing in the world, and it's very insulting to people who do have autism. I think it is good to raise awareness about it, but not in that way.

I don't have a lot to add,

I don't have a lot to add, but I just wanted to say I really enjoyed this blog. I whole-heartedly agree that people need to work to find legit charities or social justice organizations. And I think this post is on the right track--bullshit groups that operate from a condescending viewpoint need to be called out.

Was anybody else completely

Was anybody else completely horrified by the first part of that commercial?? Autism itself speaking as, essentially, the VOICE OF SATAN?

Whether you you agree or disagree that having autism or having a family member/friend with autism is the end of the world, I think that a lot of you commenters sort of missed the point of this post--that these people are being "advocated" for in a completely counterproductive way. This campaign is trying to "educate" people about the trials of autism by practically saying that those with it are POSSESSED BY THE DEVIL, who is trying to ruin your lives! This is really disheartening for those that recognize it as an UNCOGNIZANT genetic disorder. This is how people used to think about disorders like autism, back when they burned autistic persons at the stake! Sure doesn't sound like advocacy to me!

I couldn't watch that video

I read the blog post, the comments, then went back to watch the video. As a person with an often invisible physical disability one of the great strides I've made in my life is to learn to love my body, not to be angry and yell at my "malfunctioning" and painful self. Because it is MY SELF and I am doing as well as I possibly can be right now and love is WAY better for my health than self-anger. Um... I got less than a minute into that video before I literally shouted out loud and had to turn it off. It reminded me so much of the disability and pain-based damaging self-talk I have used therapy and meditation to unlearn over many years. I can't BELIEVE how ignorant and prejudiced that ad is. Those are PEOPLE who live with and may ALWAYS live with a disability. You cannot demonize their disability without demonizing their very selves. Argh!

hmmm, tough stuff

My partner is on the autism spectrum, officially diagnosed with Asperger's. I agree with a previous commenter that particular conceptions about male and female personality types and roles seem to make it all even more complicated for her to navigate the world.

I've always had a bad feeling about autism speaks, because my best friend, my partner, is the person she is and the person I fell in love with, and her mind works how it works, and if it didn't, she wouldn't be who I love. so yeah.

I can imagine that being the parent of an autistic child is, on average, more difficult than being a parent of an neuro-typical, and I'm confused about what the commenters feel is a parent's "correct" response in such a position. I think the Autism Speaks commercial is horrible and the Autism Speaks approach is wrong, and of course to say something horrifically abusive to a child is as well. But I am sympathetic to the struggles of a parent with a child with autism -- their struggles, while not those of the autistic individual, are necessarily existent, and to deny them completely would be as irrational as to say that because I have a bad fever and someone else has ALS, my fever suddenly doesn't exist. Let me say that I'm not accusing anyone of taking this line of thinking, I'm just pointing out that I do think the commenters have jumped a bit too far.

On the other hand, I think having children is, at it's core, a selfish endeavor (I say selfish in the most subtle way possible) like doing service or doing anything else that makes the self feel good -- all behavior boils down to this selfishness, and there's nothing wrong with that -- and I suspect some people think having children will make them happy, and having particularly good children will make them very happy, and so, having bad children, or, having non neuro-typical children, is of course going to make them unhappy. Which is why I hope people will decide before they have kids to commit to loving unconditionally and attempting to be as unselfish as possible.

Which is further why I will never have kids. I can't do that.

here's my correct webpage

reposting to link correctly to my webpage, as my previous attempt contained a typo.