According to Access Hollywood, an autistic boy plays the autistic child in ABC’s comedic legal drama “Eli Stone,” scheduled to premier tonight. This is an interesting development, to have an autistic child playing an autistic child: People have often questioned and criticized the accuracy and authenticity of actors and actresses playing autistic characters, as Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man and Sigourney Weaver in Snow Cake.
It is, though, all the more unfortunate that a vaccine—via a fictional substance called “mercuritol“—is said to be why William, in the child in “Eli Stone,” has autism. Will a future episode make mention of,or even show the child undergoing chelation—-in which medications are given to a child to remove heavy metals from the blood and so to “detoxify” the body—or other “alternative, biomedical treatments“? Will the autistic child on this TV show be allowed to remain autistic?
….., the autism in the story line is almost incidental given all the other loopy things that are packed into the pilot. The show is not about whether vaccines cause autism. It’s about the redemptive powers of faith. What the episode’s conclusion really asks is: Which is the greater force in life: science or faith
Deardorff writes that the “autism-vaccine debate” is about what people, and specifically parents of autistic children, believe, the scientific evidence that there is no link between vaccines and autism, or their own faith that one day their child was “normal” and the next, post-vaccination, autistic. “It won’t matter how many studies show there is no link between vaccines and autism,” writes Deardorff. “We all believe our own truths.” We do indeed: Last June, during the Cedillo trial in which the parents of 12-year-old Michelle Cedillo claimed that she became autistic after receiving a vaccine, essays by journalist Arthur Allen and anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker both discussed why there is no dispelling an autism-vaccine link. Writes Grinker:
Two distinct communities have emerged, and though they both employ the language of science, their ideas are simply incommensurable. The two groups co-exist, like creationism and evolutionary biology, but they operate on such different premises that a true dialogue is nearly impossible.
The idea behind “Eli Stone,” as revealed in media reports, is that a highly successful, seemingly selfish lawyer who has—with little apparent regard for ethical concerns—-fought on the side of corporate America, undergoes a sort of conversion experience and decides instead to fight for the “little guy”—the “vaccine-damaged” child of a single mother, in the first episode. Why this conversion occurs is a matter of science or faith, as Deardroff writes: When Stone starts to hear George Michael singing, is this the result of a brain aneurysm or because Stone is some sort of 21st-century prophet?
Some will continue to believe that a vaccine or something in a vaccine caused their child to become autistic, even as yet another study disproves a link between autism and mercury and/or vaccines—-perhaps it all depends on what script you’ve decided to follow, and who’s playing what part.