WHAT IS AND WHAT ISN'T SELFISH.

When MH 17 was shot down over the Ukraine, the scientific community was in mourning, and rightly so, as a number of scientists were on board that plane heading to a conference about a disease that has killed many, AIDS. As most of us know, AIDS is the end result of HIV, although some have been lucky and it hasn't progressed to full-blown AIDS. Today, you can be given anti-retroviral drugs that can make one's viral load almost undetectable.

When AIDS first came on the scene, people who had it were stigmatised and it was at first thought to be a disease of gay men and intravenous drug users. Community advertising later on, came to say that AIDS doesn't discriminate, people do. And it soon emerged that people were contracting HIV from blood transfusions, and some of the people who were the most regular blood donors were gay men.

People who have died from AIDS related illnesses include Rock Hudson, Freddie Mercury, Dan Hartman and Peter Allen. And the way people died was horrific to say the least.

One of the most offensive statements I have had to deal with has been people comparing cancer to autism, to which I say, cancer is a disease that kills people; autism is not! Some people who contract cancer, including leukaemia, can die with cancer not from cancer. A classic example was my paternal grandfather, who died from an rare type of pneumonia yet he also had leukaemia. His brother also had leukaemia and he died with it not from it.

Autism death statistics may be high (one is one too many) but autism doesn't kill people. Two of the leading causes can be lack of appreciation of danger, hence they wander into a pond and can't swim and drown, or, equally disturbingly, suicide. Suicide statistics, however, are a damning indictment upon the society in which we live, not autistic people. A leading cause of mental illness is bullying.

Those who've read my articles will have seen that an obnoxious little so-and-so I went to school with made the ridiculous statement, "Imagine if you had a bump on the head and you changed." Well, bad luck, I don't want to change. You can want to be someone's friend, but if it's not reciprocal, you don't have the right to demand their time. And if they have different interests, opinions and values to you, then you should be mature enough to acknowledge your incompatibility and move on. It's like if you meet a potential partner and one of you is desperate for children and one doesn't want them, then, you have to acknowledge your incompatibility and move on, no amount of begging and pleading will make them change their mind. Okay, it might be that when you're in Year Eleven or Twelve, you say to someone of the opposite sex, "I love little kids," and the other person says, "Can't stand them!" But you attend the 20 year school formal and the second one says, "Hmm, I'm nearly 40, and I think I'll miss out if I don't have kids." But, still, you need more than that for a relationship.

By the same token, I have heard the argument about inclusion and I say, "Again, yes, nobody is entitled to demand your time, BUT, if two people want to do the same thing, but one is different on account of their ethnicity, disability or what have you, they should be allowed to be included if they have something positive to offer. Such as, if a kid of a different ethnicity wants to play football and he is a good player, the kid doesn't have the right to say, "I want to play," and have the others accept them, BUT, if it's for a school team, or a friendly game, the coach should say, "Okay, let the kid have a go," OR, another kid (or adult) should say, "Come and we'll have a game."

Today, I had someone accuse me of being selfish and closed minded because I didn't want to entertain the thought of having Sinophobes, racists, anti-vaxxers or people who support a cure for autism on my friends list. Are they right? Well, to me, no. I say, in the era of COVID19, you have to remember that many Chinese people have been infected with COVID19, and some have died. You can criticise the government of Mainland China, on its human rights record or treatment of animals, but you can't blame every single Chinese person for COVID19, and criticising the government doesn't make you a Sinophobe. Similarly, you can criticise Trump, but that doesn't mean you should hate Americans, after all, plenty didn't vote for him. You can criticise the Australian Government, but remember, not all the Australian people voted for it.

I deplore racism in any way, shape or form, and it's thanks to an Asian person that I am sitting here typing this now.

As for anti-vaxxers, I have made this point, if you live in Australia, or most European countries or Japan, cholera has been eliminated. Travel advice is typically that you drink bottled water or boil tap water for ten minutes before drinking it. If you are going to certain destinations, vaccinations against cholera, typhoid and a few other diseases are recommended, and may pose a problem if you haven't had them and try to re-enter Australia or other countries. I don't necessarily believe that Australians should be forced to have cholera vaccinations to live in Australia, if going overseas it is common sense to discuss it with your doctor. Some make references to vaccine injury but forget that vaccine injury and autism are NOT the same thing! And the MMR does NOT cause autism. By all means, question the efficacy and safety of vaccines, but don't believe pseudo-science!

Finally, am I selfish not to want supporters of a cure for autism on my friends list. I say, "No." And here's why. Autism is not a disease. Yes, autistic people can be bullied and ostracised, BUT, that is a problem with society, not autistic people. Yes, autism can require varying levels of support, but support is what it needs, not a cure, as what is needed is to assist an autistic person to achieve their potential not to make them into somebody they're not. Some autistic people may be good at sport, some may not be. I remember, when I was in Year Two, with the second teacher, she asked us to name some sports, and I mentioned bowls. What was her response? Oh, but only old people play bowls. My mother also said, "You can't start off at 18 playing bowls. Most people are into their 40s before they start playing." Well, what could be further from the truth?! The average age of Olympic bowls teams is early 20s and a former Australian cricket wicketkeeper, Ian Healy, has a nephew who started playing at 18 months old and played alongside people old enough to be his grandparents!

I am not saying I want an echo chamber, but I do want people with similar political, religious and social values as my friends.

I see curing autism in a way, as being like the precursors to the execution of Westley Dodd. He had the choice, in Washington State, of hanging or lethal injection, but he chose hanging. Someone I knew replied, "What an idiot!" Why I see curing it the way I do is, hitting someone on the head and causing a personality change or brain injury is like a short or standard drop hanging, whereby the person takes up to 25 minutes to expire (in Dodd's case, the executioner would have had to have known his weight and calculated the drop accordingly) or lethal injection, which also requires knowing the person's weight, but is more scientific and achieves the same result in less time. So, scientifically curing autism is treating autism as being unacceptable and needing of change, when autistic people have been agents for change. Henry Ford didn't invent the motor vehicle, but he invented mass production and he wanted the car to not be a toy for the eccentric businessman but something everybody could own. He also believed in paying fair wages to his workers. Dan Ackroyd has provided some great comedy. Daryl Hannah is a great actress. Bill Gates is the founder of Microsoft. Courtney Love has musical talent. Albert Einstein, Emily Dickinson, and numerous other scientists, authors, health workers, have brought positive changes and enriched the lives of others because of, rather than in spite of, their autism. So why do you want to take this away? Society would be a poorer, duller, less inviting place if it didn't have autistic minds in it. And just like they say, we can't all be doctors and lawyers, we can't all be neurotypical.

And with most autistic people just wanting to perform in their areas of interest and not hurt anybody, yet neurotypical folk want to imagine us having bumps on the head and our personalities altered, just who REALLY are the selfish ones?

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Peter Wynn

Peter Wynn

4.3K Followers

Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.