It is frightening to think that the countless social cues we transmit and receive daily through our tone of voice and body language could be so lost on a person as to require him/her to attend special classes deep into young adulthood in the hopes that she/he might eventually feel some vague sense of normalcy. It is also frightening to think that a culture so highly praising and outright demanding of uniqueness and creativity has made such a fervent goal of decimating every last trace of them that it can find, deep beneath its heavy, celebrity-endorsed steel-toed boots.
So I thank you, random relative, for reminding me that if my parents hadn’t vaccinated me, I wouldn’t be plagued with the horror of autism, which I also need to get over myself about. This information is helping me to ensure that when and if the day ever comes that I am a parent, I will be sure not to let my children suffer the same fate, regardless of what my genetics have to say on the matter.
As a side note, thank you, acquaintance from high school, for also reminding me that my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is really just my being bored in an educational curriculum that is far beneath me; I will be sure to think less of my hard-working instructors as I sit in awe of what is probably the most backwards compliment I have ever received.
But back to my hypothetical children, may they rest in peace until finally deciding to exist. When they ask me what I take those pills for, what am I going to say? Will they be ready to hear that Daddy’s brain works in a special way? It won’t matter, because they’ll already know that. I’ll have to tell them about “Autism Spectrum Disorder” and how of those three words the most important by far is actually “Spectrum”—how even though there are going to be certain socially awkward traits shared by me and others on this “Spectrum,” just as no two people are completely the same, neither are their symptoms and the degree to which those symptoms impact their lives.
And when they are sitting, terrified, on the doctor’s chair, holding out their trembling little arms, I’ll remind them that Daddy’s scared of needles too—but needles make sure he can be around to take care of them. And when, and if, they say that they want to be like me when they grow up, I’m going to laugh my ass off and reply, in what will sound like garbled nonsense to them, “If only you had told the anti-vaxxers that. Maybe Disneyland wouldn’t have been shut down.”
Intern Chris White-Sanborn has Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, and a weekly column. Send collegiate news to firstname.lastname@example.org and please remember who else you affect when you don’t immunize.