By Brian Festa, Esq.


I’m going to try to keep this brief, but it’s something I just have to get off my chest.  Every year at this time, in honor of Autism Awareness Month, a slew of so-called experts emerge from the shadows to “celebrate autism”, or—as they have come to refer to it—“neurodiversity”.  This year is no different.  Yesterday, while in the checkout line at a local pharmacy (don’t worry, I was just buying a birthday card for my mother, who turns 80 on Friday), I noticed the cover of VeryWell magazine:  “Autism / A New Understanding / The Spectrum and Neurodiversity / The Many Faces of Autism / Treatments at Every Age/ Finding Support.”  The back cover continued the parade:  “A Neurodivergent World / Autistic people have a huge range of personal qualities, abilities, and disabilities.  New research and new definitions have changed how autism is treated and perceived.”

To a casual observer, this seems wonderful.  Shouldn’t we be celebrating the things that individuals with disabilities can do, rather than focusing on what they can’t?  And it’s true, of course, that there are individuals living with autism who can do AMAZING things, including intellectual abilities and talents that surpass most of the population.  But this “Rain Man” brand of autism, as it’s come to be known, does not come close to the reality that the majority of autistic individuals and their families are living with every day.  And it’s a reality that is cause for anything but celebration.

A child sitting in a room hitting his head against the wall so hard it bruises and bleeds, for hours on end, is not normal.  A child screaming and spitting at most everyone he sees out in public is not normal.  A child throwing his or her feces against the wall, windows, and everything else, is not normal.  A child (or an adult, for that matter), who cannot speak is not normal (but see the amazing new movie Spellers, that proves that most of these people can communicate, if only we give them the chance to do so).  But many in the neurodiversity crowd would have you believe that we shouldn’t try to “cure” autism, that it is just another shade of “normal”.  Most of them also deny that there is an autism epidemic in this country, and that we’ve simply changed the diagnostic criteria so that more individuals are being diagnosed, who were somehow just “missed” before.

And they are the ones who call us conspiracy theorists for believing that vaccines can cause or contribute to autism?  It’s much harder to believe that we could have misdiagnosed an entire generation (or more) of autistic individuals simply because we didn’t notice there was anything different about them, than to believe that an insanely steep and sudden rise in the number of vaccines administered to children in the 1990s and 2000s was a causal factor in the sharp increase in autism rates that occurred during the very same span of time (and continues to this day).  If this still sounds far-fetched, please take the time to read the amazing book by my friend J.B. Handley, How To End The Autism Epidemic.  In the words of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in his recent speech announcing his 2024 presidential bid, “Missing autism is like missing a train wreck. … It is not the result of changing diagnostic criteria, it is not the result of better recognition, it is an epidemic.  And it’s common sense, because if it was changing diagnostic criteria, you’d see people my age with full-blown autism. I am 69 years old, I have never seen somebody my age with full-blown autism; I mean stimming, toe walking, head-banging, non-verbal, non-toilet-trained autism.”

In case you were wondering, I am one of those autism parents, and my son was indeed injured by vaccines (the flu shot being the final straw that sent him tumbling into a cave of regression that he has yet to recover from today).  The experience had a divine purpose, without a doubt.  If this hadn’t happened to him, I wouldn’t have founded We The Patriots USA along with my dear friend and business partner, Dawn Jolly.  But I am not happy this happened to him.  Autism has stolen my son’s childhood.  It has stolen his peace.  It has smashed to pieces his wonderful, loving personality, which thankfully still peeks through every now and then between the episodes of unraveling, the frustration he lives with day in and day out, as the boy in a box he simply can’t crawl out of, no matter how hard he tries (and he tries very hard, believe me).  It shouldn’t be this way.  We shouldn’t have to be “grateful” that our son has those occasional moments of clarity and peace.  They should be the majority of his moments as an 11 year-old boy.

So please, stop with the neurodiversity nonsense.  Autism is nothing to be celebrated.  Autism is a scourge upon our nation.  It’s time we turned out the lights on the party and turned our attention to finding a cure – or, better yet, stopping it from the from afflicting our kids in the first place.  Because we can do better.  And our children deserve better.


Brian Festa is an autism dad and Vice-President and Co-Founder of We The Patriots USA, Inc.