I should stop being surprised by my fellow autism parents–those who still cling to the idea that autism is a “vaccine epidemic”. I shouldn’t be surprised that they support Donald Trump. Trump has said he believes the failed vaccine-causation idea. So what if he’d be horrible for the future of our community, Trump says what those parents want to hear.
So, let’s just put this in language those parents will understand:
Donald Trump is a Train Wreck.
“Train Wreck” was a common phrase used to describe autistics 10 years ago. Perhaps the most prominent voice was a guy named Rick Rollens, autism parent and believer in the idea that vaccines cause autism. When people talked about the fact that many autistics are undiagnosed, Rollens responded “Missing child with autism is like missing a train wreck”. Thank you Kathleen Seidel for getting Rollens to stop that.
Now back to Donald Trump: missing the fact that he would be terrible president is like missing a train wreck. Let’s leave out the fact for now that he’s proved himself to be completely unfit for the main duties the president would take on with his childish outbursts and lack of self control, let’s just consider this fact:
He has no disability policy. Further, we can expect nothing from him. He has shown himself to be an arrogant ableist; a man who mocks the disabled.
Trump has no backbone. No guts. It takes guts to admit a mistake and apologize. Trump never will. Sounds a lot (LOT) like the proponents of the idea that vaccines cause autism (looking at you, Andrew Wakefield). When called out for his attack on a disabled reporter, Trump responded that the reporter should apologize (no, seriously, he did!), and further stated:
Mr. Trump stated, “Serge Kovaleski must think a lot of himself if he thinks I remember him from decades ago – if I ever met him at all, which I doubt I did. He should stop using his disability to grandstand and get back to reporting for a paper that is rapidly going down the tubes.”
That press release on Trump demanding an apology was one of the 10–ten!–hits on his website for the search term “disability”. None of those hits are relevant to a better life for my kid.
This is the guy you “vaccines-cause-autism” people want making policies on disability?
Contrast this with Hillary Clinton. 336 hits for “disability” on her website. She’s actively campaigned on disability issues.
But, hey, Trump says you aren’t chasing a failed idea on vaccines. So promote him. Trash your kids’ futures for a chance to hear someone important say, “I, a person who ignores science, facts and anything else I disagree with, think vaccines cause autism. Who needs research when I have twitter?”
I know the “vaccines-cause-autism” groups shy away from the word “acceptance”. We live in a world where acceptance has already dramatically changed the lives of people with disabilities. Want to go back to a world where you can’t send your kid to school? Because Special Education came about due to acceptance: accepting that people with disabilities have rights. Want to go back to a world where you parents can’t take your kid in public? Where stores and restaurants can deny you service because you have a disabled kid with you? Where adult housing means “so you didn’t institutionalize your kid when they were young, so now you can pick one”?
Progress will be made by people who accept people with disabilities. Progress will be lost when people who don’t accept people with disabilities make the choices.
Who is Donald Trump if not a man who has made “othering” a principle part of his campaign? Othering is when you treat another person or group based on how they are different than you, rather than on your common humanity.
Trump’s immigration policy? Othering.
Trump’s policy towards minorities? Othering.
Trump’s plan to roll back marriage equality? Othering.
But, let’s accept that so we can have someone say, “ignore data. Ignore facts. Vaccines cause autism.”
Let’s vote someone in who would gut access to health insurance for many in our community. Everyone has risks of serious medical conditions. Autistics even more so. Heck, that’s one of the “vaccines-cause-autism” community’s favorite talking points. The Affordable Care Act gave access to medical insurance to millions of people who didn’t have it–and that includes many, many autistics.
But let’s take that away. Let’s go with Trump’s plan for medical health savings accounts. A plan that basically says, “do you have enough money to play for medical expenses? Great, here’s a tax break for you.”
Does that sound like an insurance program friendly to people with disabilities? Here, let me answer that for you: NO!
Donald Trump is a train wreck for the disability community. The fact that we have autism parents supporting him is just another example of how the failed vaccine idea has turned many potentially useful advocates down a fruitless and destructive path.
I am so glad this election is almost over. But the serious problems we have as a country will remain, including a vocal contingent of autism parents who will take us to self-destrcution in their one-(failed)-issue voting.