If you follow autism news, you're going to hear a lot about six-year-old London McCabe's parents in the coming days and weeks. London's mother threw him off an Oregon bridge yesterday; his body was recovered four hours later. (And, yes, you'll even hear some loons start quacking about vaccines.)
You are going to hear about how autism destroyed this family. You are going to hear about the broken system, the inadequate support services, the stress of dealing with multiple mental, physical, and financial crises.
In short, you are going to hear a lot of sympathy for London's parents, and a lot of demonizing of autism (and by correlation, those with autism).
What you won't hear a lot about is London himself, the little boy whom one family member described as "a good kid. He loved hats." You won't hear much about the child featured in this birthday video. You won't be able to read the blog post where his mom recounted how she rushed her husband to the emergency room, where nurses said "they couldn't believe London was severely autistic — he was so well-behaved," because her blog has been deleted. You may read his father's recent post in which he describes London as "pleased as punch (their family was reunited after a separation). He lays on our laps and puts our hands together. Last night he made the 'mmmwha!' sound and gave his Mommy a kiss. Then he made the same sound and pushed our faces together. He’s all smiles."
If and when you hear about all the difficulties and tragedies London's parents faced; when you read that autism is a monster and that London threw tantrums so loud his voice grew hoarse; when you hear from experts who claim parents of children with autism can't really be held accountable because of the stress of it all; I'd ask you to think about London.
Remember his face. He is the victim.
Related: Gigi Jordan, a wealthy Manhattan entrepreneur, was found guilty of manslaughter yesterday in the death of her autistic son, Jude. This was so clearly a case of pre-mediated, cold-blooded murder it boggles my mind that she was given what is essentially a slap on the wrist. Not surprisingly, Jordan was part of the cure-at-all-costs community. It says something about how we, as a society, value those with disabilities.
Update: November 18, 2014. Someone sent me this video of London visiting his father in the hospital. When the defense and the media spins the same narrative they always do — that autism is the monster that destroyed this family — remember this video.