Can we just drop “tsunami” from the autism discussion?

20 Jan

Todd W. over at Harpocrates Speaks discussed a recent video from Autism Speaks: Sounding the Alarm.  Todd’s article, Autism Speaks Sounds Fear notes how the Autism Speaks film uses the old “autism tsunami” rhetoric.

Why do we have to discuss how this is a bad idea?

Let’s leave behind the whole “substitute for calling autism an epidemic” thing. What’s a tsunami? It’s a mindless thing. A terrible event. It wreaks havoc on people.

I would invite Autism Speaks to explore the concept of “othering“.

“There is a tsunami coming. An estimated half a million children with autism will become adults in the next eight or so years.”

Fear. Fear autistics. They are coming to ruin our lives.


Please stop it.

By Matt Carey

10 Responses to “Can we just drop “tsunami” from the autism discussion?”

  1. farmwifetwo January 20, 2014 at 16:35 #

    No, it’s fear the parents of children with autism have.

    The Aspies are going to discover they don’t qualify for services and all their “but it’s not a disability but a difference and I don’t want him “cured”” is going to haunt them. That has already started… just watch the parents in the news.

    The rest of the tsunami is the parents that are going to discover that there isn’t sufficient supports for the adults that need them.

    Autism, is not “wonderful”…. it is a disability. Just wait…

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) January 21, 2014 at 14:37 #

      You are such a good example of how some parents continue to support hurtful, divisive and demeaning imagery.

      You add nothing to the conversation but hate.

    • Jackie January 24, 2014 at 03:04 #

      Ugh, this troll again!

  2. Kassiane January 20, 2014 at 18:55 #

    Do you remember the first time someone used the word tsunami to describe us?

    I do. It was Boyd Haley or someone equally full of nonsense. And it was, like, 2 weeks (if that) after the really bad Indonesian tsunami that wrecked, like, completely wrecked, cities and killed a whole lot of people.

    It is a revolting comparison. If people can’t scrape together any empathy for Autistic people, I’d like to be surprised but I’m not. But scrape together some sensitivity for people whose homes, cities, families were /actually demolished by a tsunami/.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) January 21, 2014 at 14:34 #

      My recollection is that Rick Rollens started using tsunami after Kathleen Seidel forced him to stop using “train wreck” as a descriptor of autistics. I can’t say who used it before then but it seemed to take off from there.

      And Boyd Haley? Isn’t he the guy who coined the term “mad child disease” for autism?

      There’s no question these gentlemen and others want the shocking imagery.

      • Kassiane January 22, 2014 at 00:51 #

        Rick Rollens! Yes. But train wreck is an individual, tsunami is ALL OF US, to these people. And I know I remember the timing bc it was like he sat down and tried to be as appallingly insensitive as possible.

        That was Boyd Haley, yes. Again with the double dose of insensitive, between the timing and the dehumanization.

        Imagine how much better these people’s kids could have it if they put effort into fighting for services instead of throwing fits that they don’t have the kid they want.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) January 22, 2014 at 05:29 #

        I met Rick Rollens once. Same day I met Autism Diva, so it turned out to be a good day:)

        Boyd Haley ended up trying to sell an industrial chelating compound intended for mining waste as a “supplement”. Because, you know, we don’t get enough of that purely synthetic compound in our diet…But it’s OK. He tested it on goldfish and they didn’t die.

        Rollens was like Handley–always trying to go over the top with imagery.

        I will say this for Rollens, when the Hornig study on MMR came out he admitted at the press conference that MMR was not causing autism. He grumbled that other vaccines were possible. But as someone who had put so much into the MMR, that took guts. He kind of faded from view after that.

      • Anne January 23, 2014 at 00:41 #

        I met Rick Rollens about ten years ago, after the California DDS Autism Report came out in 2003. I attended a talk at ARC that was billed as an autism spectrum best practices program, but it turned out to be Rick Rollens trying to drum up support for creating a series of PSAs by the Mind Institute showing the horrors of autism in light of what he thought was a frightening increase per the 2003 report. He showed clips of what they wanted to do, and it was the equivalent of the demonization of autistic people that you see in Autism Speaks’ videos. Equally annoying was his repeated statement that only “full syndrome autism” is really autism. I think this was before he started with the “train wreck” and then “tsunami” references, but the thought was there. Rollens has faded into the background, but sadly the hyperbolic fundraising efforts of autism organizations hasn’t changed much since 2003.

  3. Maegan January 22, 2014 at 00:59 #

    I completely agree Kassiane, I am so sick to death of this woes me bs from these people like Dan and Candi Spitz and the ones you mentioned and I am also getting sick and tired telling people that autism has nothing to do with mercury poisoning as every time I turn around I see stuff online regarding that stupid hoax.. it is frustrating and I too feel bad for these kids who have brainwashed parents who complain about how bad their autistic kids are instead of waking up and realizing that they are devaluing their children by saying all of that garbage and start treating them like HUMAN beings…

  4. Anne January 23, 2014 at 03:04 #

    I forgot to mention … that was a good movie review by Todd W. and a nice turnout for the protest.

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