Allism is on the Rise. Are Seatbelts to Blame?7 min read

“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!”

9 Comments

  1. Such bril­liant satire! I love it. And I laughed out loud when I read “patho­log­ical extro­ver­sion.” (Too bad some “Actually Allistic” people seem to have no sense of humor or ability to recognize/understand satire.)

    1. Author

      I’m glad it made you laugh!

    2. Author

      It’s not their fault. It’s because they are suf­fering from belt damage.

  2. In the fourth para­graph, you refer to them incor­rectly as “allistic chil­dren.”

    The appro­priate wording is “chil­dren with allism” or “chil­dren lacking autism.” Put the person first. You wouldn’t want to demean them by sug­gesting that their allism defines them.

    I am an allism daughter whose mother has never recov­ered from severe allism. She is com­pletely non­func­tional and thinks it is accept­able to startle and hurt people by making piercing loud noises. She also has severe mind-blindness, con­stantly assuming that every­one’s sen­sory pro­cessing is just like hers, and never con­sid­ering how normal people might react. It is very dif­fi­cult to live with someone impacted by low-functioning allism. But it does not define her, and I know that my real mother is in there some­where.

    Maybe someday we will have a cure to undo the seat­belt damage, and I can finally have a mother who truly loves me.

    /s

    1. Author

      Sorry for the mis­take — it’s so hard, it seems everyone has an opinion about person first vs iden­tity first lan­guage! I guess we should really decide for people with allism since they don’t under­stand things as fully as we do.

  3. Read it 10 min­utes ago and still grin­ning


  4. I love this! I wish there was more research on seat belt use because it also seems to be linked to curving of the supe­rior skull. I much prefer the flat apex of the skull of my elder child who had a head-roof fusion back before seat belts were required and we rolled the car. Her flat apex is so handy for let­ting her have an extra sur­face to keep her elec­tronics and coffee. My younger child keeps trying to imi­tate his sister only to have this bowled skull making things roll off. I sug­gest we look into the harm of curving of the skull and espe­cially the link between the money coming from “big hat com­pa­nies “ who then have a big market for their expen­sive goods.

    /s


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