“Seatbelts save lives.”
“Buckle up, America.”
“Click it or ticket!”
Seatbelts have been saving the lives of motorists since the 1950s. By the 1960s, child safety seats were being used. Over the past few decades the science behind passenger safety has improved exponentially and motorists today are safer than ever.
Few dream that when they tighten the straps on their precious child’s rear-facing, crash-tested, safety-inspected carseat, that they could actually be doing more damage than good.
However, a growing group of concerned parents are beginning to raise questions about the side-effects of car-seat use.
“I buckled my baby into his car seat the day we left the hospital, and just as I finished tightening the straps, it happened — she looked me right in the eyes.” — Karen, concerned mother of 3 year old daughter, Paislee
“She first started babbling one day as we were driving to the doctor for her 6 month shots. She’s never been the same since.” — Chad, regretful father of seven year old daughter, Jaxxon
“Whenever I buckle my youngest son into his seat, his little arms flail around normally, but by the end of the drive his hands are still and quiet. Each time I worry — what if they stay that way?” — Cheryl, worried mother of 2 month old son, Ridge, and two year old, Knoll
Skeptics call them anti-clikkers, but more and more parents have done their research and are raising their concerns — Seat belts, they say, caused their children’s allism.
What is Allism?
Allism, a neurological disorder characterized by excessive eye contact, lack of stimming, lack of passionate interests, and an unusual level of anxiety regarding conforming to social norms, is on the rise.
While some scientists suggest that allism is a genetic trait, and point out that many people living without autism can lead useful– if empty– lives, many parents whose children live without autism believe that their child’s condition may have been caused by seat belt use.
What is the Connection Between Allism and Seatbelt Use?
An allism news blog on Tumblr called Allism Research and run by the advocacy charity Allism Shuts the Hell Up (ASHU), believes there is solid evidence of the connection between seat belts and allism.
Besides, being a parent gives you an innate sense of the Science of Things.
“Whenever I meet someone who is related to someone who lives without autism,” said Karen, “I ask them if their loved one was put in a car seat as a baby. They all say yes. Every. Single. One.”
“It’s common sense,” agrees Chad. “Look at how they are strapped in so snugly. The six point harness is bound to restrain stimming. And many parents accidentally make it worse by putting a mirror in the back of the car so they can see their baby. The baby is forced to lie still, staring at the driver’s face. That’s bound to have an effect.”
Many parents of allistic children agree that their child’s symptoms– direct eye gaze, babbling incoherently, and interest in people– began after the first ride home from the hospital.
“I researched car seats online,” says Cheryl. “They’re made out of nylon and polyester. Did you know that nylon is a synthetic thermoplastic polymer? Does that sound natural to you? No one has ever properly researched exposure to nylon and its connection to allism. But everyone just assumes seat belts are safe.”
Skeptics point out that even a lifetime without autism is better than losing your child to a car crash.
Anti-Clikker parents disagree.
“Paislee NEVER stops talking,” said Karen, exhausted mother of an allistic child. “She talks all the time — even when she’s alone in a room she’ll talk to her dolls, to herself, whatever. Just TALKING! And she always wants you to talk back to her. Not about anything in particular. Just whatever she’s looking at. People don’t understand how hard it is to care for an allistic child. There’s never a moment of peace.”
“I was really hoping Jaxxon would have a solid sense of self,” says Chad wistfully. “But she seems to have embraced social gender norms and wears nothing but pink. She says she wants to be called Jackie. I’d do anything to get back the non-binary kid who doesn’t give a crap how she appears to other people that I hoped Jaxxon would be. I feel like seatbelts stole that whimsical child from me and left me with this real-life princess kid.”
The complaints from Anti-Clikker parents all agree — parenting a child without autism can be thankless and exhausting. Their children require constant supervision and often struggle in school. Allistic children often demand social gatherings called “play dates,” which parents describe as “pure hell.”
“And God forbid you glance at your phone or try to read a book about horticulture,” Karen tells me via text message. “Next thing you know people are judging you for taking your eyes off that poor allistic child who has now wandered off and is trying to socially engage with total strangers.”
Autistic people unanimously agree– Allism is a terrible thing and children with allism must be suffering terribly because their behaviour is so incomprehensible to normal autistic people.
Cheryl’s son Knoll is two and is currently being assessed for allism.
“I’ve suspected it ever since I tried to engage him in the fascinating hinges of his bedroom door and instead he preferred to crawl all over me,” confesses his mother Cheryl. “He obviously can’t see the beauty of engineering. I blame myself.”
Anti-Clikkers caution parents to do their research and considering leaving car seat restraints loose so as not to put pressure on the baby’s acupressure points which might trigger pathological extroversion.
“The NHTSA estimates that using more seatbelts would save 7,000 lives a year,” Karen points out. “But there are literally hundreds of millions of people with allism living in the United States. Should we ruin millions of lives to save a few thousand?”
Should Parents Stop Using Car Seats?
Doctors are quick to advise parents to be cautious about information gleaned from the internet.
“There’s no logical reason why seat belts would be related to allism,” says skeptic pharma-stooge Dr. Schill impatiently. “I have several normal autistic patients who also use car seats.”
But Anti-Clikker parents remain unconvinced.
“The law is the law,” says Chad, “but the law should be changed. I mean. Carefully. Change should always be approached with caution. I hate change. But I also hate seat belts. It’s very hard.”
“You can throw anecdotes at me all you want,” says Karen, “but the fact is that 84% of the population is estimated to be affected with allism, and 82% of Americans used seatbelts last year.”
“There’s no mention of allism in documents before the days of seatbelts,” points out Cheryl. “Not one.”
Skeptics point out that allism is a neologism from 2003 and that there is no reason for it to appear in older texts, but anti-clikkers dismiss this as a straw man argument.
“We’re talking about our children’s lives and people want to get into linguistics?” Chad says with a shake of his head. “If my child wasn’t seat belt damaged, maybe she would have had a degree in linguistics by age fourteen. Instead, she can barely read and says she wants to be a ‘Lady of Leisure’ when she grows up.”
Not all parents of allistic children are convinced about the dangers of car seats.
“Correlation does not equal causation,” says the Tumblr blogger who goes by Allism Mom. “It’s too late to help my children anyway. Besides, I love them the way they are. They just need some therapy to try and encourage stimming and special interests, and to extinguish their obsession with human interaction.”
Until ASHU can continue their research into the link between seat belts and allism, anti-clikkers urge fellow parents to do their own research while hiding in the bathroom from allistic coworkers who want to know what you did last weekend.
“Hopefully ASHU can prove the link and get the laws changed so that we can stop this kind of tragedy from happening,” Karen says as Paislee climbs into her mother’s lap and starts sloppily kissing her face, totally ignoring the STEAM toys that Karen hopefully set out for her daughter. “ASHU — bless you!”