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H1N1 Vaccine Day

Filed Under (Autism and Vaccines) by Estee on 08-11-2009

Nope. No qualms about it here. When it comes to life or death, or the risk thereof, it’s a no-brainer. Today we line up at our local clinic. Pack the backpack with food, toys, books, lollipops (wasn’t my last post about the dentist…oh boy….)….here we go….

Poop Talk: Jenny McCarthy and Oprah Winfrey

Filed Under (Activism, Autism and The Media, Autism and Vaccines) by Estee on 19-05-2009

The National Post ran another article on Oprah’s hanging-by-a-thread reputation in brining on board Jenny McCarthy, poop-talker and vaccination activist. McCarthy, former playboy bunny, suggests that the MMR vaccine caused her son’s autism.

“Ms McCarthy announed what her publicist calls “a development relationship” with Oprah’s company, Harpo, earlier this month. Her first gig in the deal is a Give It up Before Summer blog on Oprah.com where Ms. McCarthy blogs about her daily battle to give up refined sugar…she has blogged about hot to refuse a cinnnamon bun on a first class flight and how her poop contains too much yeast…”

Yep…that’s what I want to read about…Jenny McCarthy’s poop. I certainly am tired of listening to her claim that vaccines cause autism, with no scientific evidence linking them at all after much rigorous research. I believe the danger as Emily Senger, the reporter at The National Post cited via Dr. Kumanan Wilson, is quite correct: Oprah is seriously risking her credibility and reputation. Does Oprah care to investigate the abuse and deaths caused by not vaccinating children or because of the unacceptance of autistic people as they are either by misunderstanding, ignorance or caregivers stating they will ”try anything and everything to cure [their] autistic children?” For a well-rounded view of the issues facing autistic people and their families, there are many non-celebrity stories that would be far more interesting.

Remember Phil Donohue, the talkshow host from which Oprah’s show was fashioned? Remember when Phil and Oprah used to interview real people with real issues to discuss in a public forum — many of them who did not have book credits or celebrity status attached to their names, but who were simply interesting in their own rite?

Are the days of town-halls and really interesting talk shows gone? I really enjoyed watching Oprah when she did these kinds of shows that seem to have gone way way way by the wayside.

April Fools — It’s “Autism Awareness Month” Again.

Filed Under (Activism, Autism and The Media, Autism and Vaccines, Critical Disability Studies) by Estee on 03-04-2009

April Fools of the month on Larry King tonight: Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, Jerry Kartzinel and JB. Handley (of Generation Rescue) — yet again in the “name of autism” or to “wage a war” on it as it were, are STILL purporting their vaccine hypothesis — which, really, is no longer deserving of being in that category, since it has been disproven over and over again. The “bulking” of vaccines or the “schedule” — all of it — are, according to science, not the cause of autism. Yet science doesn’t seem to matter in all of this. People do not matter in all of this. Not the people who matter, anyway.

Jerry Lewis was recently heralded at the Academy Awards regarding his work “for” people with disabilities — a man who used these words in a recent response to criticism of his annual Muscular Dystrophy Telethon: “If it’s pity we’ll get money. . . . Pity? You don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!”

Yes, a man who continuously spoke in derogatory terms about people with disabilities and dehumanized them stood proudly receiving his Oscar amidst the beautiful people at the awards. There was no mention on how the disability community for years has protested Mr. Lewis and his telethons. There was no reference to the pain and harm he has caused them. The fact that Lewis used the kids (they went from being “Jerry’s kids” to adults who turned up for those protests and were kicked out by Jerry) was veneered and forgotten with smiles and gowns. Celebrity trumps the hard work of science (when it works hard), dialogue, debate, justice and intellect. Celebrity fails to question more often than not as exhibited yet again by Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey.

I was somewhat relieved for a moment to see Carly, the fourteen-year-old non verbal autistic Toronto girl who types. She should have had more time on the the show along with other autistic individuals like her. I am always much more interested in hearing the perspectives about simply “being wired differently,” because it is in learning how people are wired differently where we can appreciate that people can take in the world and learn on many different planes. And if that can happen, people can also contribute to the world in different and more rewarding ways as well.

CNN has not yet taken the bull by the horn the way the CBC did in its show “Positively Autistic,” (see it on the side bar in this blog). CBC did not want non-autistic doctors talking or journalistic narration in order to trump what autistic people had to say about themselves because that was the point and it is too often overshadowed.

CNN ought to take its cue, at least from the perspective of that particular documentary, from the CBC and from autistic people. I have been thinking for so long now that as much as we have medical and health components dominating the news, we should have a show on how society views difference (which would include disability) and has medicalized people who are different from whatever norm has been established at any particular point in our history. What’s the purpose of information if we do not look at it through a variety of lenses? What’s the point of medical research if we do not apply any ethical standards or reflect continuously on what it means to be human?

I meandered the Autism Hub to see if anyone else has yet written anything on the torrid experience of watching these shameless celebrities sounding really idiotic, trying substantiate their claims with quacks who call themselves doctors, namely, the infamous Dr. Jerry Kartiznel who calls our children “soul-less.” Again, such programs revolving around “Autism Awareness Month” make me afraid.

But it’s a nervous kind of laughter. Autism Awareness Month simply reminds me every year that no matter what we do, no matter hard hard we work in trying to make people aware that autistic people are simply people, that IGNORANCE still SPEAKS loudly attempting to drown the real voices of autism.

While I am not autistic, I am a parent who will remain relentless in positioning myself against such ignorance.

US Court Says Measles Vaccine Not To Blame for Causing Autism

Filed Under (Activism, Autism and The Media, Autism and Vaccines) by Estee on 13-02-2009

Last night, while going out with a girlfriend, I ran into two comments about autism. The first was the “I’m sorry” [your kid has autism] comment, to which I can now calmly reply that this person need not be sorry for Adam is the best kid in the world (and then explain nicely why I respond as such). In fact, when I see neurotypical kids nag their parents and get greedy for things, I feel I am blessed with a conversely gentle, affable, loving, amazing child who is growing and learning and changing by the day.

The second was the usual question I get “So, what do you think of Jenny McCarthy?” Well, all you need to do is go to the right side bar, watch my Autism In The Media video for an answer on that. Usually, people unfamiliar with autism and the politics surrounding it will believe Jenny and are shocked that I do not endorse her. They sort of look at me a little perplexed and conclude “well at last she’s raising awareness.”

As I’ve said before and will say again — not all awareness and advocacy is healthy awareness and advocacy. Anything that shifts public perception to lesson the value of human beings based on their disability, sways people to feel sorry for us or our children, or endangers their health, is not advancing the needs of autistic individuals or creating an Inclusive society.  It is so unfortunate that Jenny has received so much air time and so many children have died as a result of her claims that vaccines cause autism. Refreshing was the woman last night who had asked me the question about my thoughts on Jenny. She also managed (as a scientist) to understand the scope of Jenny’s damage to autistic people.

This has been going on (and there are much better bloggers on the science and politics of vaccines and autism including Kathleen Seidel, Left Brain/Right Brain, Mike Stanton…). As I sat with my girlfriend at a restaurant last night, I receive an email to watch CNN. Any time there’s something about autism, I get similar emails, but the thing is, this is old news for so many of us. Those who watch the science, instead of following Jenny-And-The-Quacks, have known this for a long period of time. 

Andrew Wakefield is busted and CNN is finally reporting (what most of us already knew), that vaccines do not cause autism. Do you think Oprah and Larry King will follow suit? Do you think that science will be of more interest than mysticism, speculation, sensationalism, and autism as Hollywood entertainment?

For more on the US Court ruling, view the article here.

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About Me


ESTÉE KLAR

I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.