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PROMOTING THE NEURODIVERSITY PARADIGM




 

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Posts Tagged: Autism Speaks

by Olivia Astrid Pountney

In 1998, Mr Andrew Wakefield published a controversial research paper in the Lancet claiming a link between the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and autism. This caused a huge media frenzy and panic amongst parents despite the paper being debunked by many larger scale studies. In 2010, Wakefield was found guilty by a medical tribunal for serious professional misconduct over the methods used in the original study as well as having a huge conflict of interest of wanting to sell his individual measles vaccine for profit. Despite the paper being retracted from the Lancet and Wakefield losing his medical licence to practice, vaccination rates began to drop and we are now seeing a rise in measles outbreaks.

In January 2015, health authorities in California declared a Measles outbreak that had been traced back to the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, Orange county, which infected 134 people in California alone. Though no deaths were reported, the rapid spread of measles cases affected 147 people across seven states in the US. The outbreak also spread to the Canadian and Mexican borders. The outbreak had also triggered a nationwide debate as to whether or not vaccinations should be mandatory. Naturally, vaccination opponents were strongly against this.

Mr. Wakefield now lives in Austin, Texas where he has become a huge voice amongst anti-vaccination proponents. His views are even shared by the president of the USA, Donald Trump, who has claimed to have met Wakefield in person. I’ll give Wakefield credit, despite never being able to convince his peers that his research is legitimate in any shape or form, he has been able to form a movement and a huge cult of personality around him (many campaigners, activists and even general members of the public have been harassed and called “big pharma shills” by his apologists for asking reasonable questions). Especially with the release of the film which he himself directed “Vaxxed.”

“Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe” is a propaganda film, which was released in April 2016, which alleges a cover-up by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a purported link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Whilst I’m not going into much detail about the film, it has many inconsistencies that contradict itself so many times. One example I can think of is that the films refers to Wakefield as an “Autism expert” yet Wakefield says on camera, “I know nothing about autism.” The quote speaks for itself. The film also relies on anecdotal accounts from shady experts and parents like Polly Tommy, the founder of the UK charity “The Autism Trust,” who also believes in the “conspiracy”. If you want a more in-depth review as to why the film is so problematic, check out the link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unRyqp13uZU

Despite it being a well-known fact within both the medical and autistic communities that vaccines don’t cause autism, there is still a huge following of Andrew Wakefield and other martyrs who claim that vaccines play a part in one developing autism. The question that I personally feel that many people are not asking is, why? Why is it that, despite there being so much research that has been invested into this and with all resulting the same outcome that there is no link between vaccines and autism, that people would still continue to listen to the likes of programs like “Vaxxed?” That is because people are scared of autism.

None of these people are interested in facts and logic. None of these people care that there is really no autism epidemic but a real epidemic of actual diseases that we once eradicated by vaccines. These people are interested in recovering their apparent allistic (non autistic) child that was taken away from them and will resort to any means necessary to do it. Even if it means harming their child. MMS, GcMAF and so on…
We live in an ableist society that sees autism as something of a personal tragedy to family members. Charities and organisations like Autism Speaks have been pushing a narrative for years that autism needs be corrected or removed from a person. They create martyrs out of the “grieving” parent who must find the cause of their child’s autism and charlatans like Wakefield and Tommy do exactly this, but on a more exaggerated scale. It is assumed that we are not competent people, who need other people to speak for us, which is simply not true. We live a world that is not designed for us. Many of us live in poverty, are unemployed and are routinely discriminated against for the crime of existing. But none of these anti-vaxxers seem angry with that. I have not seen one anti-vaxxer ever speak about any of these issues. And what is ironic is that, despite many of them having voted for Trump due to his stances on vaccines and autism, very recently he has taken away health cover from many “pre-existing conditions” under his “Trump-care Plan” and autism (and other co-occurring conditions) is one of them. The anti-vaccination movement is stone dead silent on this.

And that is exactly what’s wrong with the anti-vaccination movement. It’s shamelessly anti science, anti-logic, anti-autistic, bigoted and ableist. And that’s why it is so dangerous and that’s why it needs to be confronted and stopped.

Our Aims

Autistic UK campaigns in the UK and beyond to advance the interests of all autistic people and those with “related neuro-developmental conditions”.

Our Mission

Autistic UK will work to ensure that the autistic population of the UK is comprised of happy, healthy, fulfilled and empowered individuals.

Our Vision

Autistic UK envisages:- The establishment of Autistic People’s Organisations (APOs) within every local authority area in the UK

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