Trigger Warning: Abuse, Autism Fear Mongering, Violence
That image about autism being 1 in 88 now and asking if we were scared yet needs more addressing than I gave it in my ``Oh, hey, I'm in India!" type post. So, have links to both the original image and the parody, with major trigger warning on the original, also trigger warning on the remainder of my post.
Also a shout-out to IstillFindItSoHard over at wordpress, since I found the links back to the images over at his site. He wrote about the images as well, at THIS LINK.
I think it is also good to read. So is all of his stuff that I've read so far. Definite trigger warnings on it, though. He does swear and sometimes uses violent/sexual/both violent and sexual at one (e.g. rape) analogies. If you can, read it anyways. Really.
And now for my addressing the images myself.
Seriously. I think that is the most blatant autism fear-mongering I have ever seen. ``I am Autism" did more fear-mongering, but I feel like it was a tiny bit subtler, mainly because they didn't actually ask ``Are you scared yet?" And yes, I just compared this image to that video, yes, I have seen the video, and yes, I think this image is similarly bad.
It begins with the Autism Speaks puzzle piece, though I suspect Autism Speaks didn't actually make this image because it apparently takes from a rather offensive meme that has nothing to do with autism. I'd like to at least THINK (hope) that Autism Speaks isn't quite that stupid. Regardless of who made it, starting off with the Autism Speaks symbol is a BAD start. Adding a single eye with a single tear-drop really doesn't help, for the following reasons:
- Now we're making that puzzle piece look even more like a person, and a rather sad one at that. We aren't puzzles, thank you very much.
- We're also making the whole thing look like a tragedy. I'm not a tragedy. I'm an autistic person. I'd even go so far as to say that I am a fairly successful autistic person, since I am in college with three majors and writing this post while on a school trip to India.
- You only gave this person one eye! We deal with enough of being considered as not-quite-people or as incomplete people without you creating images that subtly or not so subtly reinforce that. It doesn't help. Stop. Now.
And now it asks what's black and blue and spreading all over. That is apparently from a rather offensive meme about child abuse, rape, and murder. Also, black and blue means bruises to most people, even if actual bruises seem to be more greenish or purplish to me. Bruises mean violence. Autism isn't violence. Being autistic does not inherently make a person violent. In fact, autistics are disproportionately victims of abuse, and we are disproportionately not the abusers. If this person wanted to use black and blue to suggest that we are the ones getting bruised, I could have gone with this in the right context and properly explained. But it is neither. Instead, it is in a context that seems designed specifically to promote fear of us.
``And spreading all over" suggests spreading like a disease, which autism DOES NOT DO. Last I checked, you were born autistic or not, and then you stayed that way. It's a bit more complicated than that, what with people who have some autistic traits but don't quite qualify for a diagnosis and all, but if you were born not autistic, you stay that way. You can't catch autism. There is some genetic component, which seems to be pretty big, with the odds of having a second autistic kid after having one being one in five overall according to one source, and higher numbers for boys/if there were two autistic siblings. But... that's not disease-style spread. It also suggests that autistics have been around for quite some time, which completely fails to surprise me. Essentially, saying that autism is spreading all over is factually inaccurate fear-mongering. I don't like factual inaccuracy, and I don't like fear-mongering. I REALLY don't like both at once.
Now here comes the ``Autism is 1 in 88." I don't know where that number comes from, and I don't know if it's true. It wouldn't shock me, as long as you count all autistic spectrum disorders. (The word disorder pisses me off, but that's what they're called...) This is probably the most subtle sentence here, as far as the fear-mongering goes. It's also the only one with any possible basis in facts. I think it says something when the least scary sentence is the one with the most basis in fact, and even the basis of that sentence is unsure. It's more a how they say it than a what they say in this case.
The kicker, of course, is ``Are you scared yet?" And yes, I am scared. I am scared of people who think violence against autistics is OK. I am scared of people who think this sort of fear-mongering is OK. I am also scared of what the creator of this image would do if he/she were to live with an actual autistic. Not of what the creator would do to his.herself, but of what he/she might do to the autistic, who doesn't deserve it. I am not scared of autism. I am scared of autism fear-mongering. There is a difference.
And now for the parody:
What looks like a bleeding chest wound has been added to the puzzle piece with a single tear coming from a single eye. That actually makes sense. The person now has an obvious reason to be crying, and I'd say it's a pretty good one! A chest wound is not fun. Also, autism fear-mongering leads to violence against autistics, so a wound makes sense.
If the connection to the offensive jokes is true, then ``what's black and blue and spreading all over" still isn't great, but now the implied violence of bruises is happening in a context where it... actually happens. Also, if we're parodying something, we should probably leave enough of it there that a reader can tell that it's a parody. So this works.
And of course, the answer:
It's not the end of the world!
Autism Acceptance 2012.
Autism Scaremongering is definitely spreading, and it leads to violence. I think they should have said ``Autism isn't the end of the world" instead of ``It's not the end of the world" since the ``it" could be mistakenly interpreted as Autism Scaremongering, which has led to the end of the personal worlds of several autistics. Otherwise, I like this message. Autism Acceptance I'm definitely all for. Autism fear/scaremongering I'm definitely all against. So yeah, nice parody overall.