Autism Speaks makes my hair stand on end. When Dani inspired me to become less judgemental and a better Christian, I knew their forum was the place to go.
The site is structurally different from other forums. Tightly-controlled and with odd quoting rules, the only stickied thread is called “Dreams for Our Children.” That struck me. They dream for their children. In how many of their households is it allowable for the children to have dreams of their own?
I learned whose child is doing well, whose is not, who wants a cure, who needs help. Their handles, pseudonyms like ”koolaid” and “vaccineskill,” filled me with the imagery of lives so shattered that reasonable people had come to believe unreasonable things. I may be the only person on the forum who uses a real, full name and is open about where I live. Why not? My card is all over Atlanta. Everyone from wealthy, Decatur neighbors to homeless denizens of Little Five Points have my number. I have no privacy to protect. Everyday creeps respond well to a firm “no.” I am too young, obscure, unimportant, itinerant, and poor to attract the attention of credible threats. If the shadowy hand of big pharma exists, it has no reason to pull me under.
They claim to speak as or for autism. My voice is my own. The spectrum is so wide and diverse that I would never dare speak for anyone else. I know parents struggle but care more about the children. Life is hard. Adults are supposed to muddle through as best they can. I agree with them that they should recieve more help than they do, but their upper echelon could set a better example for keeping kids out of the ideological crossfire. I spoke to them as equals. I reminded them that even the most beneficial change costs, to pick their battles with the care that comes from knowing they may be chipping away pieces of another person’s soul every time they ask a kid to be more normal. I implored them to do everything they could to make their children aware of their unconditional love. Then, something happened.
“Zonk,” like the Dunesburry character, started attacking parents on the forum. We seem to have a lot in common. Zonk is an aspie, smart, well-read, articulate, and generally anti-cure. Whatever his age, he is young in the worst sense of the word, boy* enough to miss the distinction between fighting wrong and tormenting a mother who has been up until two with a crying child. I could almost see him, a fifteen- or sixteen-year-old kid with plenty of strong opinions and no experience meeting daily struggles with grand, philosophical arguments, judging what he cannot understand.
A familiar, powerful impulse began to glow like hot coals in the pit of my stomach. If Zonk said one more word to these frightened, desperate people, I was going to unchain the hellhound of my vocabulary. The goal was a blow to his adolescent self-esteem he would recount at dinner parties twenty years hence. One more word and I would send him to his room for an evening of crying and listening to emo music in the dark. I was ready to lash out at someone like me on behalf of members of an organization I view with enmity. That may be the most Christian thing to ever skim the murky surface of my mind. It has also had my head in knots for well over a week.
*or possibly girl