Death better than autism says Andrew Wakefield

28 May

When I first got involved in this, 15 years ago, I got a call from a parent in the North of England who said ‘Dr Wakefield please do not judge me harshly but when I die I’m taking my child with me, because I’m the only one who loves him’ and I didn’t judge that mother at all. In fact I was moved by the love of a mother must have for her child to take his life rather than him fall upon a society that really didn’t give a damn. from 2:30 to 3:25.

Those who are regular readers of LBRB may guess how I felt upon hearing such words coming from a man who swore as a doctor to do no harm. If nothing else, they confirm exactly the type of human being Andrew Wakefield is. I also note he waited until _after_ the GMC hearings before expressing such an extreme viewpoint.

I believe that death is not better than autism. Part of the reason LB/RB exists and continues to exist is to counter the idea that autistic people are second hand citizens who can be done away with because of false ideas that they are ‘inconvenient’. There are no reasons based in any morality that it is ever OK to kill another human being. The fact that the other human being might be autistic is irrelevant.

I was already disgusted and appalled at the money grabbing callousness of Andrew Wakefield. Now I find myself more than anything, relieved that the GMC acted as they did and that he has no more access to children in the UK.

17 Responses to “Death better than autism says Andrew Wakefield”

  1. Irene Burton May 28, 2010 at 09:14 #


    I’m in complete agreement. Now if only all the people who are using their energy to defend him and his dangerous ideas could just concentrate their energy on ensuring there is a safe and accepting future in society for everyone affected by autism right across the spectrum.

    That means children, adults and just as important, their carers.

    Of course it is essential to research the causes of autism, and that is for competent professionals to pursue. It is a sad fact that the likes of Wakefield create such disruption and mischief by rallying the gullible around them to make silly sensationalist and nonsensical noises.

    While so much energy is used promoting ‘cures’ and somewhat suspect treatments, the real work of finding strategies to help people with autism make some sense out of what must appear to be an illogical and dangerous world is held back. Allowing people to become aware of, and then accept autism without the added distraction of Quacks and their followers would be so much more beneficial for the autistic community as a whole.

  2. Savannah Nicole Logsdon-Breakstone May 28, 2010 at 13:51 #

    I have to wonder if people put half the energy they put into defending this guy into trying to make the world more accommodating of their particular child’s needs- in a generation, would statements like this still be so accepted?

  3. Suzanne May 28, 2010 at 17:37 #

    I attended Autism One last year – the conference in Chicago that ended up being a love-fest for Mr. Wakefield. Yikes. I went to an indepth session on living communities, supported living, employment options…and there were only about 10 of us in attendance. Everyone else (hundreds, if not approx 1,000) attended sessions on “curing” their child. This year’s Autism One is in session right now, and I am decidedly not there.

  4. Joe May 29, 2010 at 00:59 #

    I’m not a particular fan of Andrew Wakefield, but I feel he’s been misrepresented here. He did not say “Death is better than autism.” He said he didn’t judge that parent. The insinuation is not that “Death is better than autism” but that “Death is better than not having the basic essentials of care met” This parent was obviously worried that his/her son wouldn’t have those essentials because services are so poor. Look at the homeless people with neuro-cognitive needs that are not being met and if you can’t feel compassion for that parent then I don’t know where your heart is.

  5. Phil Schwarz May 29, 2010 at 02:19 #

    @Joe – I know exactly where my heart is. And my sense of compassion for that terrified parent leads me to want to work with him/her to choose life for his/her child — to find alternatives through which his/her child will have a safe and maximally happy life, even after the parent is gone.

    My heart is with the child. And that does *not* mean that it is not with the parent.

    I am a parent too — of two wonderful children, now young adults — an autistic son and a daughter in the broader phenotype.

  6. Dedj May 29, 2010 at 02:47 #

    So, Wakefield had evidence that a mother was a risk to her child, and did nothing, just because he was ‘moved’?

    Wow, professionals are supposed to be non-judgemental, and that includes not judging people to be morally right just because you feel sorry for them.

    I feel compassion for the mother, but there’s no way in hell can I condone that course of action, nor Wakefields apparent inaction.

    If that situation had gone the way of Baby P., Wakefield could have reasonably been professionally accountable for his inaction.

  7. Ian MacGregor May 29, 2010 at 03:15 #

    I carte for my daughter very much. We really enjoy our Saturday’s when we go out on walks, and we has burritos for lunch. She is quite severely affected by her autism. Her life is precious and worth priceless. We are in a sad state when we figure that one person’s life is worth more than another’s.

    Her life would also be improved if there were a cure. No it would not be worth more, but her opportunities would be greater. I’d love to be able to give that to her. Unfortunately, right now their is nothing available. The parents who take their children to DAN doctor’s want the same thing I do, more opportunity for their children.

    My daughter does not see a Dan doctor, not because we are philosophically against having her be off the spectrum, but because their treatments have not been shown to be beneficial and often involve shenanigans.

  8. Dedj May 29, 2010 at 03:39 #

    There are many parents out there who say ‘There is nothing available’ who, later-on, reel off a list of services and therapies their child undergoes. As someone whose entire profession often gets written off as ‘nothing’, I am well aware of the situation.

    But if there truly is ‘nothing’ then I extend my sympathies to you.

  9. Calista May 29, 2010 at 04:53 #

    I think there’s a basic assumption here that’s false–the idea that life will be better for someone if he doesn’t have autism. But I don’t think you can make that assumption. Quality of life, as reported by people with disabilities, is on average the same as the quality of life reported by people without disabilities.

    The idea that “non-autistic people are happier” seems to be incorrect, generally.

    And that would mean that, if your basic goal is for your child to have a good, happy life, then removing the autism simply can’t be your first priority, because it doesn’t affect happiness. The goal of educating an autistic child should be the general goal of education everywhere–that is, to teach the child the skills that will be useful, and that he can learn, as an adult who is a part of his society.

    There are things that do make unhappiness much more likely, though; and among them are prejudice, ostracism, and isolation. Those are things we can change; and they are intrinsic to our society, and have very little to do with autism. Big social movements can take fifty years to bear fruit; but the disability rights movement has been active since the 70s. Back then, disability meant ostracism. Forty years later, children with disabilities have so many more opportunities, and have their rights protected to a much greater degree than they would have during the time when all those disability stereotypes were formed.

    So not only does a disability not mean unhappiness, but the social factors that cause disabled people so much hurt are starting to change. Autistic children today, the autistic adults of tomorrow, will most likely be not just included but treasured–if we keep up with teaching the world that differences are to be valued, that disability is not frightening, and that disabled people make good students, good employees, and good friends.

  10. daedalus2u May 29, 2010 at 21:34 #

    It is not at all a surprise that Wakefield’s followers subscribe to the “better dead than autistic” meme. That is the nature of curebies. They lack the capacity to see people with autism as fully human. I explain the physiology of this on my blog.

    It is essentially the same as any type of xenophobia, but perhaps more extreme. This is the mechanism behind why people with autism are subject to more abuse than non-autistics. I really think that all xenophobia, racism, homophobia, and bigotry of all types is just variations of this mechanism. It is all about the bigot being unable to perceive and understand the objects of their hatred as being fully human.

    It isn’t that they imagine the autistic will have a better life if they are not autistic, they can’t imagine that the autistic has the basic human capacities that are fundamental to being fully human. They fundamentally feel that autistics are sub-human or non-human. Any risk of death is appropriate if it will make their non-human child into a human being.

    These are feelings, and so cannot be addressed cognitively.

  11. Ian MacGregor May 30, 2010 at 00:11 #

    Did I say my daughter was unhappy. At one time she was very much so and rather violent , but now she is one of the happiest people I know. She still has her moments when she is mad and self-abusive, but those are no longer hourly nor even daily occurrences. We just got back from spending the day together including 90 minute walks. She had a great time. As always she was very messy with her burritos.

    She’s in a fine school program and we belong to a church which has programs for kids like her. I am in no way saddened or burdened by having such a child. I would not choose to parent such a child, but doing so has meant reward beyond measure.

    However, it is better to be able to communicate your needs than not. It is better to have friends than not. It is better to be able to be able to be take care of oneself than not, it is better to be able to celebrate special days and occasions than not.

  12. NightStorm May 30, 2010 at 16:06 #

    This is kind of attitude is why people with autism suffer depression and are suicidal.

  13. Anna June 1, 2010 at 14:38 #

    I have a 5 year old with autism. Do I worry about what will happen when I’m gone? Yes. Do I ever entertain the idea of taking him with me? No. Because I love my child with all my heart and soul, I can fight for him to have a better way to communicate with me and still respect him as a person. I will never be able to get into the mindset of these parents- I pity them, because I feel they miss out on so much joy in life, and sometimes cause their children to miss out on it too. Sure my son isn’t “normal” he never will be, sometimes he is violent- but the solution for him continuing to have a fulfilling life when I am gone is education- not his- but the whole worlds- the more people that truly know what autism is, the more people who will have compassion for my son. Every person I educate is one less person who will be an obstacle for him and one more advocate on his side.

  14. Smarter Than You June 1, 2010 at 19:20 #

    Way to spin his words you dipshit! You are the master of spin and I’m embarrassed for your sorry ass.

    • Kev June 1, 2010 at 21:28 #

      Spin his words? They’re his words, quoted in full. If he seriously thinks its better for a parent to take their child with them when they die then you tell me – what exactly have I spun and how?


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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev, dkmnow and Robert Burton, Rebecca Fisher. Rebecca Fisher said: Andrew Wakefield is evil. RT @kevleitch: Death better than autism says Andrew Wakefield: […]

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