How Pro-Vaxxers Harm Autistic People

Anti-vaxxers are harmful on many levels. They are harmful because they put people’s lives at risk by not getting their kids vaccinated and they are harmful because they spread the idea that being autistic is a bad thing. But pro-vaxxers can be pretty harmful to autistic people in the way they respond to anti-vaxxers.

If you respond to anti-vax arguments by pointing out their position kills people but don’t also point out that there’s nothing wrong with being autistic, you harm autistic people. Often non-autistic people reinforce the idea that being autistic is bad, it’s just not as bad as being dead. They reinforce this idea when they say things like “Better an autistic kid than a dead kid.” The implication there is that autism is bad but death is worse.

Of course there’s no actual link between vaccines and autism and there’s nothing wrong with saying so because it’s true. But when non-autistic people say “vaccines don’t cause autism” but don’t also say “and even if they did it wouldn’t matter because there’s nothing wrong with being autistic” again they reinforce the idea that autism is a bad thing. It’s often implied that vaccines don’t cause autism but if they did the non-autistic pro-vax person would re-evaluate their position. Some pro-vax people would change their mind about vaccinations if there was a link to autism and that’s ableist. Many of the people defending vaccination are just as ableist as those who believe that autism is a vaccine injury.

There is nothing wrong with being autistic. If vaccines caused autism that would be okay. Not only would they stop you from dying from preventable diseases, they would also make you autistic! That sounds like a win/win situation to me.

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