What do Vampires and the Autism that Autism Speaks create have in Common?

An image of a female vampire snarling at the camera, her vampiric teeth on full display.
An image of a female vampire snarling at the camera, her vampiric teeth on full display.

Please bear with me on this because its very much a forming idea, so this is gonna be a major freewrite.  One of the things my thesis advisor has encouraged me to do is look at how Autism Speaks narrates, represents, identifies, and agencies autism. I was reading the BS that is their “Call for Unity” and again, I am amazed with the amazing rhetoric they use.  Because unity is a good thing, I don’t think any of us can disagree with that.  But enough on that for now, first, I want to talk about vampires.

Are vampires monsters?  I think many of us would agree (especially if you have read the Twilight series, which I have) that vampires are monsters.  On Saturday, I presented at the Great Plains Alliance in Computers and Writing 2015 conference at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  That was a long sentence, sorry about that.  But, I went to a presentation on teaching Aliens v. Predators as a strategy for teaching rhetoric.  The presenter gave a list of 7 warrants, or criteria for the definition of monster.  This is taken directly from the handout he…(handed out?), so thank you to my colleague for presenting on this at GPACW 2015!  My comments will be in the square brackets starting with “My Note.”

  1. How did the monster fill the classical role of the deformed body? [My Note: If you want to, I think you could reword deformed into disabled]
  2. Does the monster escape… Always?
  3. How does the monster represent hybridity or a refusal to categorization
  4. How does the monster serve as the other [My Note: I read that as capital “O” Other, but I’m weird like that], but also represent the within. What is monstrous? What is human?
  5. How does the monster secure or prevent an attempt to defy the norm? What limits does it set, either socially, geographically or sexually [My Note: or about ability]?
  6. Is fear of this monster really a repressed form of desire? We loathe what we cannot be, but secretly wish we could?
  7. The monster always returns. It exists on the edge, but is never truly gone…

Let’s take some of these one at a time for vampires.

  1. vampires are dead, but still cognizant and moving around.  Death is a sort of deformation.
  2. yes, unless you stab it in the heart with a wooden stake (which seems like a cop-out to me, but whatever).  But usually, they come back, perhaps not that one, but another will come back (possibly a lover coming back for revenge like in the Twilight Series…okay, I have got to stop using Twilight here!)
  3. (This is kind of four as well) It looks like a human being and the definition of the human being is a living thing, but it is also dead. So, it is a contradictory human being.
  4. See the previous one
  5. It kind of does this by simply existing.  By existing, it is challenging others attempts to normalize it (make it either fully human or fully monster, but as it is both, it challenges it)
  6. Perhaps it is, vampires live forever unless you stake them in the heart (or tear them apart if you’re a Native-American werewolf…damnit, I need to stop bringing Twilight up.  Stop bringing it up, Sam!) and, as humans, we enjoy immortality, if only as a concept.
  7. Pretty much

In Autism Speaks’ article calling for Unity, they maintain everything that they have held up until now.  Autism is something that we need to eradicate.

Here are a few quotes that will get to the answer of the question in the title of this post:

Those who are least severely affected [by autism] may just need an openness and understanding of the character traits that make them unique. Those who are more impacted by autism, like my son, may need therapies and hopefully a medical breakthrough that will come through scientific funding.

And those who dream of being parents one day deserve to know their children will have the best opportunity to thrive in society without the challenges that are created by autism spectrum disorder.

For many, autism is a whole-body disorder

there are now an estimated 3.5 million people in the United States, and 70 million in the world, living with autism.

we led the effort in Washington, D.C. for passage of the Combating Autism Act

Parents call this “the autism cliff.”

Monsters have always existed to define society.  They do this by showing people that come later what society was afraid of and how they reacted.  For example, for a while in the 20th century, society was afraid of the cold war, so they created monsters that were similar to what they thought of those they were afraid of: cold, distant, sociopaths.

Autism Speaks has created a new monster.  A new monster we all must fear and loathe because it defies the norm by simply existing.  A new monster that kidnaps our children leaving empty husks of screaming nothingness behind.  A new monster that’s invisible until its too late and then will work faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined.  A new monster who will bankrupt parents and ensure their marriage fails.  A new monster that will terrorize you until you desire to murder your child and commit suicide by driving off a bridge.

That monster that Autism Speaks has created?  Autism.

The concept of Autism terrifies people because of this “awareness raising” information. Autism refuses to be categorized or normalized because it’s different in everyone and different even in one person from time to time.  It defies the norm because it is a different way of being in the world.

Autism is our generation’s monster.  All of those quotes above from the “Unity” article point to autism as being the monster that we need to vanquish.

But who vanquishes this monster that is created by Autism Speaks?  Well, it’s kinda beautiful rhetorically speaking, but disgusting everything else speaking, but the hero that vanquishes the monster that is autism is Autism Speaks.  They do this by funding $560 million to fund their mission of eradicating the monster known as Autism.  They do this by trying to contradict Steve Silberman’s claim that they don’t put enough money into helping autistic adults by saying they fund $2.25 million for adults.

But here’s the thing autism is not the monster here.  There’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, if you will.  Autism Speaks is the real monster here because they take a naturally occurring human diversity (different brains and ability levels) and monsterize it and demonize it.

So, the title of this article should not be “What do Vampires and the Autism that Autism Speaks create have in common,” but “What do Vampires and Autism Speaks have in Common?”  Well, their both monsters.


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