, , , , , , , , , ,

Dear Mr. Paul Wallis, writer of Op-Ed in The Digital Journal “Is American Conservatism A Type of Autism?”,

I am not a big fan of bashing autism and using common misconceptions about it as some kind of twisted simile for your political bête noire. It’s a bipartisan tactic, that’s for sure, but to read it from the keyboards of American left-wingers, who claim to be champions for the marginalized, is especially horrifying to me. In your worthless piece of trash article, you did not say anything factual about autism, but you did reveal a lot about your own ignorance of my disability, particularly when you wrote that autism was characterized by “a medical condition whereby people are self-centred, uncommunicative and at a remove from their social environment.” You called conservative denial of reality “social autism”, and called a laundry list of traits which show extreme lack of compassion and detachment from reality “autism incarnate”, including a mentality whereby “anything which doesn’t directly benefit or relate to oneself” is ignored.
Mr. Wallis, I happen to be autistic. I am not detached from reality, I am not heartless, I do not subscribe to an ideology which erases or belittles the experiences of the poor, women, or sick people. In fact, I am a poor woman myself who suffered at the hands of the American medical system while trying to receive treatment for various conditions directly related to my autism. In fact, I’d say that the traits you describe are more fitting of someone like you: You are detached from the reality that autism is not equivalent to being a complete and total monster, that autism is not particular to any social or political ideology, and that there are actual autistic people out there who get hurt by having their disability appropriated to make a crass and poorly-written op-ed about the writer’s own projections against politicians he disagrees with.
If you are interested in finding out more about what it is actually like to have autism, I encourage you to talk to some actual autistic people. We do exist, you know. You can scroll through the autism tag on my blog to see posts where I have written about my experiences with autism. While you’re at it, you might want to read up in the ableism tag too, that seems like a good place to get a much-needed education. Before you even begin though, I assure you that you won’t find anything to suggest that I am heartless, ignorant, or wilfully oblivious towards social issues, because none of those things have anything to do with the autistic experience, just the autistic strawman, which your article nicely props up.
The next time you are going to appropriate somebody’s disability in order to score cheap rhetorical points, think about who is the truly heartless and self-centred one here: Assholes like you, or the disabled people you’re throwing under the bus?

With sincere contempt,

Leah Jane, Autistic Self-Advocate