An Open Letter To Marti Noxon: Autism Isn't A Personality Trait

Subject: An Open Letter To Marti Noxon: Autism Isn't A Personality Trait
From: A Girl With Asperger's
Date: 24 Jul 2017
An Open Letter To Marti Noxon: Autism Isn't A Personality Trait

Dear Marti,

I'm not sure if you will even see this, but since you are both the director and screenwriter of the Netflix original movie, To The Bone, I figured I'd address you personally. First off, I'd like to say that while I don't believe in boycotting and censorship, I do believe in criticism when it's due, which is why I'm writing to you.

I had been looking forward to your movie, but there's a line said earlier in the trailer that just rubbed me the wrong way — "It's like you have calorie Asperger's," as spoken by Ellen's half-sister, Kelly (Liana Liberato). Since I have not seen To The Bone as I'm writing this, I'm not sure what you wanted to imply in that scene, but it's still made in very poor taste. Not only is it not funny, but it's rather insulting to other Aspies, like me.

You might be thinking that I'm blowing this out of proportion, but let me ask you this – what comes in mind when I say Asperger's? Besides the fact that it's within the Autism Spectrum, how much do you know about the condition? Sure, an Aspie might have one or two particularly distinct interests, but contrary to popular belief, that's only one of many symptoms that encompass what Asperger's is really like. That being said, I'm now gonna ask you to put yourself in my shoes (or on anyone's within the spectrum, for that matter).

For this case scenario, let's say you're a young girl, who was diagnosed as an Aspie as a child or a teenager, at a time when kids at school become particularly cruel and judge what they cannot understand. So, to escape your daily torment, you search for something to latch on to, like many victims of bullying do. A beacon of hope, if you will. However, one day, you hear someone you look up to or care about reduce your diagnosis to a personality trait, simply for the sake of mockery or comedy.

In that moment, whatever hope you had of people outside school being more understanding is taken away from you without warning. The worst part? It makes you feel like a abomination. That's why comments like the one in the first trailer cut deep. It makes Aspies believe that all they're good for Is to be laughed at, and that's a very dangerous message to send to the Aspergers youth (or people recently diagnosed). The fact that this type of behavior is not only common, but encouraged is alarming, especially when it's all based on misconceptions.

As you could probably figure out if you have gotten this far, the damage is already done, but I hope you can keep the points I made in mind for any other projects you are and will work on in the future.