So it seems that ‘Days of Our Lives,’ that bastion of fine contemporary drama, plans to “tackle Autism” with a storyline revolving around the parents of a 3-year-old child who receives an Autism diagnosis. I’ll give you three guesses which organization the show is partnering with to produce this storyline, and the first two don’t count.
That’s right– Dena Higley, mother of a child with Autism and Days Of Our Lives’ head writer, is partnering with Autism Speaks to “ensure the storyline contains realism and sensitivity.” Of course, that’s when Autism Speaks isn’t too busy sending their lawyers to intimidate real, live, speaking Autistic teens and adults and allies who criticize the organization.
A quick run down of questions that weren’t asked in the Today Show interview:
“Dena, how does your 19-year-old son, Connor, a college student and athlete with Autism, feel about the portrayal of Theo on Days of Our Lives?”
“Dena, how does your 19-year-old son, Connor, feel about the organization Autism Speaks?”
“Dena, did any person with Autism play a role in ensuring that the storyline ‘contains realism and sensitivity?'”
“Dena, has ‘Days of Our Lives’ ever hired a writer with a disability?”
“Dena, doesn’t it strike you as strange that an organization called ‘Autism Speaks’ employs only neurotypical people to speak for Autism?”
Is it so hard to understand? Really! I can be somewhat sympathetic to the neurotypical view that Autism must be difficult to live with, if one has never met a happy Autistic person, and I can understand that it’s not a big jump for many NTs from the reasonable ‘It would be nice if people with Autism could live with more autonomy if they wish to do so,’ to ‘Let’s cure Autism,’ but how is it that people just don’t even wonder why they’ve never heard someone with Autism thank Autism Speaks for their hard work in attempting to eradicate the condition that makes her who she is?