I learned a new word today: neuro-bigotry.
Neuro-bigotry is prejudice against people on the autism spectrum based on the idea that they are less worthy of moral regard than everyone else.
Who taught me the new term? None other than neuro-bigot Kate Tieje whose nom de quack is Modern Alternative Mama.
Suggesting that the risk of brain damage or death from measles is preferable to having a child on the spectrum is neuro-bigotry.
Kate posted the mind boggling piece Five Reasons Measles is Better than Autism. There’s been such a firestorm of protest that Kate cannot ban and delete people fast enough from her Facebook page. But she is desperately trying to defend the post despite the fact that it is scientifically illiterate and startlingly prejudiced against those on the spectrum.
Here’s the Facebook version of the post:
**New Post** Enough with the fear-mongering, let’s be honest: measles is better than autism. We have five reasons why the disease is preferred over the vaccine…
The actual post is a festival of stupidity. Just about every scientific “fact” is at best cherry picking and at worst a bald faced lie. And that’s not even the worst part of the post.
The worst part is this:
When a child gets autism? There’s no easy bouncing back. A bowl of chicken soup ain’t gonna solve this problem (though soup can help to heal autism).
Autism results in long-term neurological damage with can affect a child for lifetime, though there are children who recover through the hard work of their warrior mamas! Indeed, many studies … have found that gut health has a profound impact on the behaviors of those on the autism spectrum, and interventions such as diet and probiotic supplementation may be helpful.
I have an adult child on the spectrum. He is not neurologically damaged. He’s a highly successful, productive member of society with a degree from an Ivy League college, a wife and a high paying job.
Wait! They’re not talking about people like my son?
And before you cry for acceptance of neurodiversity, keep in mind, I’m referring to children with severe, regressive cases of autism, not those that are high-functioning and more self-sufficient.
But the majority (up to 75%) of people on the spectrum DON’T have severe, regressive autism.
What about measles?
You know what’s not a big deal? Measles. Did you know that according to this CDC document (page 85), between 1950 and 1960, there was less than 1 death per 100,000 in the US, which is 0.00001%, or about 1 in 100,000.
But that’s about 1 death per 1,000 reported cases, not a trivial number. [Correction: Edited to make clear the difference between death rate per population and death rate per reported cases.]
According to Measles Elimination in the United States published the Journal of Infectious Diseases in 2004:
From 1956 to 1960, an average of 450 measles-related deaths were reported each year (∼1 death/ 1000 reported cases), compared with an average of 5300 measles-related deaths during 1912–1916 (26 deaths/ 1000 reported cases). Nevertheless, in the late 1950s, serious complications due to measles remained frequent and costly. As a result of measles virus infections, an average of 150,000 patients had respiratory complications and 4000 patients had encephalitis each year; the latter was associated with a high risk of neurological sequelae and death. These complications and others resulted in an estimated 48,000 persons with measles being hospitalized every year.
Measles was a very big deal indeed.
The blog post postulates that the autism is so debilitating that risking the very real chance of hospitalization, neurological damage and death from measles is better.
Many parents of autistic children posted on Facebook profoundly disagreeing with Tietje; she has deleted most of their comments and banned them.
She tries to defend herself.
Enough. It’s ok for us not to believe the same things. The article we shared earlier was written on our sister site Modern *Alternative* Health. We have an alternative point of view, and for good reason: today’s conventional food and medicine is not working for our kids.
Today’s generation of kids are actually predicted to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Something is wrong here, and calling names and insulting people because they believe differently than you isn’t helping our kids.
There is new information emerging, and refusing to believe doesn’t change it.
Please, let’s conduct ourselves in a dignified manner. And remember the rules: my page, my opinion. If you don’t like it, that’s ok, you are free to move on. Calling names, using foul language, and behaving like children will get you banned.
Please understand we are NOT saying that autism is the worst thing ever, or that people with autism are somehow worthless. Not at all. That’s not what this is about.
This is about putting things back into perspective. We’d rather have a child with a mild, short-term illness than a chronic disability.
The truth is, measles is a mild, self-limiting illness for most. Autism is a life-long issue, and regressive autism can be especially difficult for families, coming with behavioral, neurological, and physical symptoms. Simple illnesses are always better than chronic issues.
Of course that misses critical points:
Vaccines DON’T cause autism
Most people on the spectrum DON’T have severe regressive autism
Neurological injury or death from measles is WORSE than being on the spectrum
The most fundamental point is this:
Mothers don’t get to choose between measles and autism. They can choose to protect their children from measles but they CAN’T prevent autism, no matter how much they wish they could. Autism is almost certainly genetic. That means it’s no one’s fault so leaving your child exposed to death from measles in an effort to prevent autism is deadly nonsense.
And suggesting that the risk of brain damage or death from measles is preferable to having a child on the spectrum is neuro-bigotry.