When you watch ‘The Accountant’, the new movie starring Ben Affleck, you don’t think of Donald Trump or how his mind works. You’re likely to simply think that autism is kinda good. But no, it isn’t. Autism is freaking exhausting to manage. And mind-bendingly expensive, too.
But that’s not what Hollywood wants you to think. They want you to believe thatit’s not such a big deal. After all, many successful people, including Stephen Witshire, live productive lives in spite of autism. They want you to gradually shift from horror to acceptance, and maybe even conclude that, hell, it’s still better than cerebral palsy.
That’s probably why you’ve been seeing lots of key characters on cinema and TV screens who represent people living with autism. Watch ‘Undercover’, the BBC One mini-series. In it, Sophie Okonedo’s son has a “learning disability”, which looks pretty much like autism.
Also in ‘The Judge’, Robert Downey Jr’s youngest brother is obsessed with electronics and he, too, has a kind of developmental disorder. In the Australian series, ‘The Code’, the main character is an autistic hacker with superlative skills. I could go on.
If you like you may argue that because autism is fast becoming a pandemic with 1% of the world’s population living on the spectrum, movies have to reflect that statistic.
Wait, what? What’s 1% of 7.4 billion? I’ll tell you. It’s 74 million. That’s more than the population of South Africa. More than the population of the UK. More than twice the population of Canada.
Yet, if you’re above 30 years of age, when you were growing up, do you remember anyone with autism or an obvious learning disability in your neighbourhood or family? It was extremely rare, right? Now, look around you, you probably have two friends who have autistic children. What the hell happened?
In Nigeria, credible stats are scarce, except for a staccato ofstudies which found that the prevalenceof ASD has risen by 0.7% in three decades and that male/femaleratio on the spectrum is 4:1. There are even hospitals in Lagos whose nurses and paediatricians are totally blind to ASD symptoms.
Now this is where Barron Trump comes in.
Barron Trump, as you might have noticed, is Donald’syoungest son. The Internet has been having a field day criticising the boy. At first I did, too. I wondered why he was so chill about his father winning the US presidency. C’mon, as a 10 year old, I would have been over the moon if my father won the local government election in my village.
But this boy, he’s just been like, yeah, whatever.
There’s also that viral clip of him on stage with his father while the older Trump gives his acceptance speech. It looks like Barron is rolling his eyes at his father’s garrulous presentation.
Until someone pointed out that Barron might be autistic.
Then, everything starts to make sense. It now makes sense that Barron and his mother are not packing up and leaving for the White House in January. They’ve said the pair will wait in New York till the end of the school year so as not disrupt Barron’s school schedule.
Donald Trump has also said his son is very good with computers. Wait, before you counter thatall Generation Z kids are good with computers. No, not all of them are. They’re all comfortable with it, yes. But some are just exceptional it’s like they figured the whole thingout in the womb, before they arrived here. And among those who are exceptional, a number are on the spectrum.
Also, Melania Trump once told a journalist that her son liked to keep his room “clean and white” and loves to play by himself.
The most telling of all these revelations, to me, was Mr Trump’s position on autism during his presidential campaign. Unlike most politicians, he boldly said vaccines were the primary reasons for the explosion in autism cases. He said he’d seen it. According to him, a healthy two year old child goes to the hospital, is pumped full of vaccines, develops a fever, becomes autistic.
I’ve seen it, too.
So, why are healthcare professionals avoiding the possibility of vaccines being the cause of autism? Why are politicians sidestepping debates on this deeply troubling disorder that’s now sweeping the world? Why are people who suggest that vaccines should be investigated being labelled wackos? Could this be another pharmaceutical industry conspiracy?
If it is, it won’t be the first time that Big Pharma has sacrificed hundreds of thousands of people for profit. The world knows it. If autism is linked to vaccines, you can imagine how much that will cost the pharmaceutical companies. You can imagine how far they’ll go to protect their bottom line.
The Big Pharma Bottom Line
That’s why drug manufacturers outspend everyone in government lobbying. Between 1998 and 2013, Big Pharma spent $2.7billion on lobbying (aka bribing) US government officials. That amount was40% more than what the next big spender budgeted for lobbying in the same period. Lobbying has become extremely important so these companies can influence government’s reaction to their sometimes fatal errors.
If Barron Trump has autism, he’ll be the first child in the White House to have it. It also means that, for the first time, the President of the US may have to fight Big Pharma. It means that, possibly, the chickens have come home to roost.
But for ordinary people around the world, things may be about to get better. After several years of suffering powerlessly because the US government, which basically determines what a good drug is, hasn’t paid attention to a likely connection between autism and vaccines, they may now see a US president fighting back on their behalf.
I must say, though, that it’s not anyone’s place to “out” a child or family living with autism. If they don’t want to talk about it, it’s their choice and we must all respect that. Besides, we can’t be certain that Barron Trump has autism. The only way to know is to have him evaluated by a credible professional.
But here’s the good thing: calling Donald Trump a whack job for challenging the establishment on the vaccine-autism relationship won’t deter him from barrelling through. He’s already known to do crazier things. And now, the world may actually become a better place because the US just elected a weirdo as president.
[P.S: The video in question has been removed from YouTube 🙁]