Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wildeman's Words: Guest Post Responding to Eustacia Cutler's Daily Beast piece

Article tries to link Autistic MEN with Child Porn

I am sick to my stomach. My blood is boiling and I could burst into flames any second now. Yes, I could spontaneously combust with the disgust I am experiencing right this second. What has me so bent? This article:

Autism and Child Pornography: A Toxic Combination 

Go ahead. It opens in a new window. It's an article by none other than Eustacia Cutler, Temple Grandin's mother! It's written for the Daily Beast (not sure what I think of that combo) and it's getting more than a few autistic adults up in arms. Before I explain why, I'm going to come right out and say this article is irresponsible and dangerous. If you go by just the bold print, sure, child porn is a toxic combo with anything. It's practically the most heinous of the heinous. It's a level of crime that gets you murdered in prison just for being there. And this article wants you to believe there is an alarming trend of autistic men viewing child porn.

So what's wrong? First lets take the author's credentials into consideration:

Eustacia Cutler is a published author. She has a Bachelor of Arts (in what I don't know). Her research in retardation and autism established the basis of two television documentaries. And finally, she wrote school programs for television. That and she raised the most famous and popular autism icon we can mention; Temple Grandin.  Add all that together and it's reasonable to say that this woman's word is going to be taken at face value as rock solid fact by people who don't know enough about autism themselves.

And I want to add, I'm sure she knows plenty about autism, but this article is bad news with a capital B-A-D!

The article starts out with a single case of a young man being caught with child porn on his computer. This young man has autism. Now it's important to note that Eustacia did not interview this man, did  not examine him or read any of his psychological records (at least she says nothing about any of that). Therefore, everything based on this  man as an example is absolute speculation. By the way, this is the only case she offers to support her theories or "facts". She presents all of her information as fact, by the way. Never does she say "in my opinion".

That brings us to what the whole of her article is really "supported" by. Yes, I mean "supported" as in using matchsticks to hold up a brick building. She states in the article that her years in studying autism have given her "insight to autism's social hurdles".  I want to point out at this point, that she is specifically talking about autistic MEN. Just the men. She doesn't say "in such and such circumstances" she says "autistic men" period. What does she say?

Autistic men have the minds of ten year olds: She doesn't say that certain types of autistic men are like this, she just says that we have the minds of ten year olds. "They look like grown men but inside they're only 10 years old."  I will agree that immaturity (to varying scales) is commonplace in autism (to both sexes!) but we do grow up. Amazing thought eh? I'm 43 years old, have an IQ of 145, have had jobs since I was 14 (until disability in 2008), managed to survive on my own since I was 14 (in the streets), now have 4 children and a loving wife, and I harbor an intense hatred of crimes against children. You might call me a special case but get this; in my 9 years of study, research and advocacy, in talking to hundreds of different people with autism (my Facebook page has over 4000 people connected to it) I have traded words with exactly ONE person who was arrested for child porn. That was Dr. Nick Dubin and he admitted he knew it was wrong and is now presumably serving time somewhere. And he should be! Even for Dr. Dubin, while he may have had immature thinking, is not 10 years old nor does he have the mind of a 10 year old. At least there's no research evidence to prove this and that brings us to the next point.

She admits there's no supporting data: That's right. Right in the middle of the article she admits there's no data available to support that autistic men are any more prone to becoming pedophiles than any other classification of human being on the planet. But she continues to present her "insights" as "facts". Mind you that won't matter one wink to the layman who's trying to learn about autism and stumbles across her article. Posting an article like this, expecting to to be accepted as fact without supporting data (studies, research, crime statistics) is extremely irresponsible. The layman is going to look at this article and go "OMG, autistic men become pedophiles!" or "Oh yeah, I bet that weirdo down the street is one of these."  And my next point doesn't  help because I'm quoting her directly when I say:

"They don't want to be taught by adults, they want to be taught by 10 year olds": Dear God! When I was dating at 17, 18, and 19 on up... I had an age requirement that I was very serious about. If you couldn't go where I go because of age... we didn't date, PERIOD. I wouldn't go more than a year backwards at 17.  A couple years ago I gave my daughter grief for dating a guy a bit older than her. And for the record, I was taught by a woman older than me. I wouldn't have had it any other way. You can bet I plan to teach my son what's appropriate too! All of this article is so sadly generalized it's frightening. There's no way to misunderstand highlighted points like that unless you just can't figure out basic English. And what studies do these words come from. What supports the idea that adult men with autism (spectrum not withstanding) would rather mess around with 10 year olds? Well, according to Eustacia, adult autistic men are retarded and infantile and don't know any better. According to her, we're slaves to our sex drives and stunted in the brain. But this article targeting autistic men doesn't stop making leaps into madness there. 

She takes a slap at Tony Attwood that's not even related to the article: You read that right. What does Tony Attwood have to do with any of her article. Oh, I know, he's a man and has autism! But her slap actually has nothing to do with the article at all! 
 I asked Tony Attwood, an internationally known autism counselor who works directly with those young men with Asperger who despair of finding their way in the world—or of even understanding it.
“Were you ever able to stop a boy from suicide?”
He turned from me, his face taut: “I think maybe I did ... once.”
Wha? Suicide? What does Tony Attwood saving some kid from suicide have to do with child porn? What does Tony Attwood have to do with the article at all? I can only call this a personal slap or stab. Apparently she doesn't like Tony Attwood. What better place to bring out the slapping glove than an article about autistic men going pedophile? 
I can safely tell you that I am not the only person who feels this way. Check out this article by Emily Willingham. She breaks it down quite nicely.
The autism community has enough stigma problems. We're associated with being retarded, weird, or violent. We get labelled as school shooters or fanatical whackos. The last thing in the universe we could ever need is to be associated with pedophilia. I've said it before and I'll say it again: having autism does not make a person any more likely to be a criminal than anyone else. It does not make for instant psychopaths. 

I believe we need to teach our children about sexuality and how to protect themselves from predators. We need to teach them internet safety and the law. I don't believe my child having autism automatically makes him a risk as a pedophile. In closing, I submit that, just because you're a celebrity (Jenny McCarthy anyone?) or raise one, it doesn't make everything that comes out of your mouth gold. It doesn't make you an expert. Eustacia Cutler is not a doctor in any form of psychiatry. She posted flamboyant information with no supportive facts or studies to back it up. If I were Temple Grandin, I would be really pissed at my mother about now.



Autism Blogs Directory

Related Sites

General Science-Related Blogs