In late summer, someone I respect told me that rumors were circulating around Barron Trump being autistic, based on his behavior on camera at the RNC. I looked at the rumors, found them believable but not confirmable, and felt it would be unethical to report on them in any way. Still, I knew that if Trump won, the rumors would eventually go mainstream, find an outlet or a celebrity to promote them, and then I’d need to respond.
Yesterday, Rosie O’Donnell (whose history speaking on autism isn’t good) tweeted the following, the video has half a million views, so:
Barron Trump Autistic? if so – what an amazing opportunity to bring attention to the AUTISM epidemic https://t.co/Acgy1Qxyqi via @YouTube
— Rosie (@Rosie) November 22, 2016
My simple take is this – Do not politicize Barron Trump. Do not try to out people – anyone in any context – as disabled. Do not be ableist or spread stigma to serve political agendas.
A few more thoughts:
- You do not know whether Barron Trump is or isn’t autistic.
The video is not especially convincing, just pictures of a ten-year-old boy who is sometimes restless and rarely smiles when on camera in front of millions of people. He could be autistic, because autism is a common natural variation in the human neurotype, but he could also not be. Stop speculating.
- It is both unethical and cruel to speculate about a child’s disability.
- Barron Trump is not a public figure
- I have written about Donald Trump’s views on vaccines. They are deeply troubling.
There’s an assumption that Trump’s antivax ideas come from his own experience. He’s said:
You take this little beautiful baby, and you pump—I mean, it looks just like it’s meant for a horse, not for a child, and we’ve had so many instances, people that work for me…
Just the other day, 2 years old, 2½ years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic
- I am going to fight against antivaxxers in the CDC, in HHS, as the Surgeon General, in the FDA. Barron Trump is not a pawn in that fight.