Nick Hughes

Opinion Editor

I am the opinion editor of the Snapper. I am supposed to have opinions. With the obvious stated, I want to elaborate. As the Opinion Editor, I am supposed to shed light on situations. Those that the Millersville community should be aware of.

The issue in question, is quite close to me. The term autistic has become a derogatory slur. Or, at least, will become that soon. The r-word is a word that has had this fate befall it, and that is unacceptable. Even so, it happened, and I am going to strive for the term autistic to not have that negative connotation. I also want to make you aware of something called the anti-vaxxer (AV) movement. A so-called philosophical group that believes that vaccines causes autism.

Some may say that I am being too sensitive and that they are having fun when using it as a slur. What I want to make clear to everyone reading this article is that I am offended by this. Autism is not something to held with such little thought. The way that most use the term is incorrect. I will speak more on this soon. But, I want to make it clear, being autistic is not a bad thing. It is not a death sentence, and treating it as such is wrong.

Why am I being so adamant about this though? The answer is easy enough, but I want you to realize that is more than me having autism. This is about a social injustice that was not intended, but has happened anyway.

With that said, some describe me as unbiased, objective and down to earth with my opinions. I want you, the reader, to realize that I am not budging on this stance. I have my opinion and I want to educate people who are unaware of what autism is. Or, if they know what autism is, I want to educate them about the syntax of using the term.

Autism, by definition, is a social anxiety disorder. Note that this is my definition. The definition of autism is different for every person on the autistic spectrum. For me, I have severe anxiety that accompanies my autism. Along with depression, racing thoughts, and a multitude of other things. That is my personal definition.

Every human life has value, and a lot of people think autism is a death sentence for their child. That attitude has caused a lot of the stigma against autism.

What I am referring to is the vaccine debate. Vaccines do not cause autism. It is that simple. Proof that they do not cause it and there is no correlation with autism is easy to come by.

It frustrates me that parents do this to their children. I am not a parent and I have no idea if I ever will be. What I find appalling is that parents believe what a few powerful people say. The end result is that their child will get measles. I will most likely end up writing a piece later this year when I read the reports on how many children die to the measles. It makes me angry and it should make you angry too.

Having autism is no death sentence. I want to take some time to thank my Mom and Dad for raising me, autism and all. They did not even know I had autism until I was 16, and when they found out, they did not hate it. They instead looked-for ways that they could help. That is what a parent’s job is. To protect and nurture their children. Autism has a negative connotation attached to it because of the AV movement.

The AV movement is one that is wrong about vaccines. They do not cause autism. It is as simple as that. I have done three pieces in the Snapper now about autism and I say this in each piece. The AV do not seem to hear. What has developed in me recently about this is an opinion of people. Those that would rather their child contract measles than have autism. Why are they so afraid of autism? I know it can be hard raising a child/teen/adult with autism, my Mom can attest to this, but it is doable. You must be willing to dedicate yourself to your child.

I could go on and on about this, but I want to leave you with two thoughts. Autism is not a death sentence, is treatable and a person on the spectrum can live a great life.