No, a thousand times no: Autistic Men are Men

Eustacia Cutler, Temple Grandin's mother, has written a piece at The Daily Beast that is beyond awful in its wrongfully accusing autistic men of being (1) children who want other children to show them about sex and (2) unempathetic computers who "cannot distinguish the relevant difference between a misspelled e-mail address and bringing a gun through airport security. Nor can a computer deal with random. At best it carries a program that imitates random. Ditto those on the autism spectrum."

Add to that awfulness, Cutler then blames absent fathers and throws around a made-up but prevalent statistic that suits many autism families' narratives: that 80 to 90 percent of marriages where autistic children are involved end in divorce. This isn't just irresponsible and damning to all family members, it's flat out wrong.

Several writers have deconstructed and countered Cutler's piece and their takes on this and the damage it does to autistic people. Emily Willingham ably tackles it, writing that "It’s evidently not enough that autistic men must deal with a public perception that they are unempathetic, that they are violent. No. Now people must also, by allusion and innuendo only, imply that autistic men also are pedophiles, at least at heart, and infantile pedophiles, at that."

Not only is there no evidence to support a link between violence and autism, there's no evidence at all that autistic men, or autistic individuals as a whole, are sexual offenders.

Dave Wilde dissects Cutler's claims and notes that the essay itself doesn't gel well, with a swat at Tony Attwood being thrown in at the end and whether he's ever helped an autistic male avoid suicide.

C. S. Wyatt counters Cutler and discusses the need for guidance and education, as does Wilde and Willingham. In other words, people in the community, both those who are autistic and those who are parents of autistics agree that talking about sex with children about what is and is not appropriate is a key part of parenting. Let's be honest. It's not just our autistic children that need that kind of frank and open discussion across their development; it's all children.

My children.

My son.

This wonderful young man who Cutler would have you believe has been abandoned by his father, his doctors, his community, and his mother, so that her conclusion is inevitable. I can't even put her words in connection to this sweet, honest, moral young man who would be horrified by what she thinks him capable of, what she thinks autistic men are like: unempathetic computers who are inevitably on the path to being sexual offenders.

He has enough on his plate without people reading and believing Cutler's dangerous misinformation. Thankfully there are many more writers in the community countering this attack against autistic men.


Elise Ronan said...

John Elder Robinson wrote much the same garbage in psychology today. I can't tell you how infuriated it makes me . PS I wrote about it on my blog too.

Anonymous said...

"He has enough on his plate without people reading and believing Cutler's dangerous misinformation."

I'm beginning to wonder how the hell Temple Grandin got through her childhood with that sort of messed-up mother!