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The Autism Hate Fallacy

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I had the misfortune of running across a post where the author wrote about a friend fighting ovarian cancer. She drew a comparison between cancer and autism by saying that she wouldn’t say she hates “femaleness” because her friend is battling cancer. The message you are supposed to take from that is that, if you’re a good and thoughtful person, then you would never say that you “hate autism” because it’s saying that you hate your child.


Except, it’s not.


It’s not the same thing at all.


Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the employment of a good logical fallacy from time to time, if it serves the greater good of the writing. But when it’s used solely for the purpose of manipulating the audience into blind adherence, then it kind of makes me sick. I don’t like dishonesty.


An accurate comparison would be to say that your friend is fighting cancer and you hate the cancer. Not femaleness. And this is what’s meant when someone says they “hate” autism. They don’t hate their child…they don’t hate the autistic person. They hate the challenges their loved one faces because of autism.


I hate that my son has such a hard time making friends. It’s because of autism.


I hate that my son feels overwhelmingly anxious when a routine changes. It’s because of autism.


I hate that my son struggles to infer the meaning of a reading passage. It’s because of autism.


I hate that my son doesn’t always understand humor because he is such a literal thinker. It’s because of autism.


I hate that sometimes my son cries because he can’t express himself the way he wants to. It’s because of autism.


I hate that if someone says they hate autism, people come out in droves to tell them their feelings are wrong.


I hate that people think advocacy means making someone else wrong so they can be right.


I hate that people don’t realize that advocacy is fighting for something, not against something.


I hate that some people think you have to love every minute of autism to be an advocate.


I hate that people can’t make the connection that someone hating the effects of autism can still be someone who advocates for inclusion.


I hate that a huge part of the community is ostracized because their autism is much different from the autism of someone who can communicate enough to work with legislators.


But I don’t hate people.


Hating behaviors, actions, and labels isn’t the same thing as hating a person. People will create logical fallacies to tell you otherwise, though.


I hate ovarian cancer, but I love femaleness.


And sometimes I hate autism, but I adore my child.


No amount of red herrings or false analogies can change that.




About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

21 responses »

  1. LOVE THIS!! Thank you! I have been thinking about writing something similar lately, but quite frankly, I’m afraid of the backlash! Thank you for having the guts and the frankness to say it.

  2. So love this. I had one of those “I hate that people think advocacy means making someone else wrong so they can be right. I hate that people don’t realize that advocacy is fighting for something, not against something.” experiences the other day. Mind boggling.

    Beautifully, wonderfully put, thank you.

  3. I read the same post this morning and couldn’t figure out exactly why it got under my skin. This was why, exactly. Thank you for a great post.

  4. I hate feet and cats but you don’t see me complaining about that. Oh wait, never-mind.

  5. I hate that making people feel guilty about their feelings contributes to the further isolation, guilt and desperation felt by many parents.

  6. Blessed Mama

    Love. This.

  7. For every “thing” I hate about Autism – I think all of it’s situational, and if I change the situation, I love that “thing”

    Fixation? wonderful. And terrible.
    Limited vocabulary? Terrible. Great, when his brother won’t shut up.

    I could go on. But I’m stopping…

    (It’s so “baked into” my son, I can’t hate it…. cancer is never “baked into” anyone, it intrudes into them)

  8. Nice one! I like this post and I agree with all of the above.

  9. Try knowing this blogger personally, and knowing how much she exaggerates her kid’s autism, and how they don’t face the same struggles a lot of us do. Not with behavior. Not financially (regardless of what this person writes, they are W-E-A wealthy), not with schools, or lack of friends or resources, or anything that can make autism hard. How most of us don’t have the time to amass 100,000 followers because we are actually busy or under water trying to help our kids. How this person doesn’t get what autism IS…can BE…and to have to see them and know the lies she tells, and the way her kid barely sits on the spectrum (LD’s, yes, most definitely…hardcore or even hard autism…hardly.) It’s easy to write flowery posts when your life is flowery. When you don’t worry about the same things a lot of us do. I wish someone was brave enough to call this blogger out on her BS, I really, really do…I wish that person was me, but life is hard enough without an enemy with 100,000 people ready to take ME down, who don’t know the truth…

    Autism IS all the things listed in that blog. ALL of them. Period. Because, if they aren’t part of autism, then what the hell IS autism? I love my kids, I don’t want to kill my kids or have them bullied or rejected by society, but I also live in the reality of an autism that isn’t shiny and happy (or fake), either…

  10. I read the post that inspired this one, and I walked away feeling so angry and sad because I’ve lost someone dear to me to ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is horrible, and I have absolutely no qualms saying that I hate it. Most of the time ovarian cancer goes undetected until late stages and is then very difficult to treat, so it is frequently fatal. There is no comparing ovarian cancer to gender, no comparing it to autism. I’ve also lost people to pancreatic cancer, something which affects more men than women. Again, I have no qualms saying I hate pancreatic cancer. I hate it. I hate the pain that these fatal diseases cause to the people who suffer from them and to their loved ones. That doesn’t mean I hate their gender or sex or chromosomal make-up. It means I hate the pain and death CAUSED by cancer.

    I care for a young child with cancer and frequently volunteer with local charities benefiting children with cancer. Guess what? We all hate cancer. We hate watching kids go through chemo, we hate watching kids die, we hate that these kids are robbed of their lives and of normal childhood experiences. You know what we don’t hate? The kids. We hate what their bodies are doing to them, but we love these kids something fierce. I have a bumper sticker that I bought as part of a fundraiser that says “Cure Childhood Cancer.” Do I hate kids with cancer because I want them cured? I have a “Cancer Sucks” t-shirt. Should I throw that out? What if I told her that I know cancer survivors and patients have the same shirt? Should we counsel them about how their cancer is a gift?

    This blogger can write what she wants to, say what she wants to, but that doesn’t change the reality and narratives of people living with cancer or autistic people or women or whatever else she’s carrying on about. It’s one thing to write, it’s quite another to live it. I would honestly dare her to send that piece to anyone who has lost family to cancer or anyone who’s fighting for their child with cancer. She just has no idea.

  11. I read the same article…. agreed!

  12. Thank you for writing about autism and being candid about the issue.

    At the age of 49, I was diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome. All my life I wondered why I was so weird and different from everyone else, why I would get so overly obsessed about things, why it was so hard for me to make friends and keep them, why I was always a target of bullies, why management saw me as a genius but not as a team player, and on and on. After my diagnosis two years ago, I’ve been seeing a therapist who deals with adult Aspies. It helps a lot and I can see why I do things.

    However, I still have no real friends except for my husband of 26 years. I was laid off from my job 8 months ago as a magazine editor and I have not been able to find another full-time job. Now that my unemployment has run out and still no job, I’ve taken on some contract assignments that I hate so much that I can barely get myself to work on them.

    I had a mental breakdown a few months ago (and still think I’m going through it) and went into a deep depression. I think about suicide almost daily. I keep trying to come out of this deep abyss I’m in but no matter how hard I try and think I’m succeeding, I slip and seem to go even deeper. I’m afraid my husband is going to get tired of my mood, and finally call it quits and leave me.

    But, again, I wanted to thank you. I wish more people were candid about the hidden autism community.

    I’ve tried to write about my autism journey on my own blog, “Life Among Muggles,” but just can’t seem to keep up with it regularly. However, you’ve inspired me and I’m going to make a goal of at least writing once a week on it. Thank you … Tonya

  13. blogginglily

    How do you feel about ovaries?

  14. I agree that frustration with autism is not quite the same as hatred of autistic people. In fact, they’re not the same at all. I have a close personal friend with Down syndrome whose behavior can frustrate me, but I accept him regardless of that, but I also respect his condition knowing it is part of who he is. I think we as autistic people feel that if our autism isn’t accepted, then people aren’t accepting the whole person, which is who we are, and thus we don’t always feel respected or accepted. For me, autism is often the reason I have my way of life, talents, habits, ideas, opinions, and many other parts of my personality. With any form of cancer, I don’t feel it would be that way, and thus I cannot call cancer a part of a person. Indeed I do find it alright to be frustrated with autistic traits in people, just as I can find neurotypical people’s small talk frustrating, but I know there is nothing particularly wrong with autistics in particular. Now human being is perfect and that to genuinely respect an autistic person, we really do need to accept their autism.

  15. Tell me, what makes someone them?

    Their brain, their body, their soul?


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