Friday, February 27, 2015

New Radio interview

Here's a link to a radio show I was on.  Ari Ne'eman and Sue Rubin were on also.  Corine Becker and Harold Doherty were more minor guests. Apparently I was interviewed before Ne'eman so he got to comment on what I said rather than vice-versa.  In that sense, the show may not have been completely balanced.  It's interesting that Ari Ne'eman hopes that neurodiversity will give me an opportunity to achieve what I want in life when I'm more than twice his age and even if there were a cure or ND were something real and not a bunch of baloney, a man nearly 60 wouldn't be able to go back in time and be able to do well in college, get a meaningful career, have meaningful social relationships and all the other stuff I missed out on when I was younger.  Well guess I won't comment further. here's the link if anyone is interested in listening: radio interview

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

autism live interview about my novel

Here's the portion of the Autism Live interview where I discuss "The Mu Rhythm Bluff".  There might be more than just this segment and the previous segment, but not sure, guess you'll have to type Jonathan Mitchell autism live into the you  tube search engine to find the whole things.  Or you can watch the entire February 24 episode of Autism Live but it's a two hour show and they have other things other than me.  Well here's this portion of the interview



My interview on autism live on the subject of neurodiversity

Today I did an interview on the web TV show Autism Live about my take on the neurodiversity movement.  I realize that I'm not the most articulate interviewee in the world, with the stammering and the 'you knows', but I guess that's part of my autism.  I did give it my best shot.  I'll  write about my interview about my book, "The Mu Rhythm Bluff" in the next post.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Is Specialisterne for real?


Thorne Sorkil’s organization, Specialisterne (meaning specialist in Danish) trains and employs individuals to be computer software testers.  What is unique about the employees is that they are mostly persons on the autism spectrum.  Sorkil, a former IT worker in Denmark, has an autistic son who I think is now about eighteen.  He found that his son could draw maps with great detail.  He also had calendar savant skills.  Sorkil met a number of individuals on the autism spectrum through various support groups who all related the stories of being unable to find and/or hold down a job.  Studies, such as Michelle Dawson’s, had suggested that the intelligence of persons with autism had been underestimated and they had good fluid intelligence.  Also autistics were believed to have good attention to details (as Thorkil’s son did).  A study by Patricia Howlin had showed that as many as 30% of autistics have specialized skills and talents.  This was a higher estimate than Bernard Rimland’s survey showing merely 10% of autistics have savant skills of some sort.  This inspired him to start Specialisterne where persons on the autism spectrum do IT work.

The concept really hit home for me.  As most regular readers of my blog know, during the approximately twenty-eight years I was in the workforce I had tremendous problems at jobs.  These included conflicts with employees and supervisors and often not being able to do the work without errors.  An organization that can effectively employ autistic people and provide them with a good income was something that interested me.
His organization has received widespread media attention from the new york times as well as Forbes magazine .  Is this organization the salvation for unemployed autistic people or could it be not all the media has cracked it up to be?

One of the media’s talking points in their stories of this organization was that autistics not only had good attention to details but had superior accuracy.  I know this was not true for myself.  This made me skeptical of Specialisterne’s legitimacy and whether or not they were really helpful to persons on the spectrum.

Other dubious assertions were using Michelle Dawson’s research to show that autistic people could effectively work as software testers.  The control group in her study was not neurotypical, but had average Wechsler IQ’s of 70th percentile.  A group in the 70th percentile is not typical of anything.  No other researcher had replicated the magnitude of the differences in autistics between the Wechsler test and RPM’s her study found.  Sven Boelte found a difference between RPM and Wechsler but it was not of the magnitude of Dawson’s and was only limited to lower functioning autistics and not persons with higher functioning autism and asperger’s who are whom Specialisterne employs.  Kim Bodner also failed to find an effect for high functioning autistics.  The attention to details, as measured by embedded figures test seemed to be debunked by psychologist Sarah White, particularly for higher functioning persons.  Darold Treffert wrote in Islands of Genius that Howlin’s 30 percent figure was likely a very liberal definition of savantism and an overestimate.  

The biggest eyeroll of all was reading that Specialisterne was largely subsidized by the socialist government of Denmark.  When he set up shop in the u.s.a. in the state of Delaware, he received grants of $800,000.

All of these made me question whether or not these were real jobs and they were geniunely helping those with autism.

This is why I was interested when a couple of days ago I received a comment to a a post  I wrote over two and a half years ago where I discussed these very issues.  From a woman named Katja Worm who said she was from Denmark and had been a former employee of specialisterne said:

Hello, my name is Katja Worm. I'm an 35 year old woman and a former employee at Specialisterne in Denmark.
I just wanna say you're right about everything you wrote in your blog. I share your opinion. I really do.
You can't run a business by using this method. And you can't demand an amount in that size, and just believe that the government and the social services will pay it. It's not gonna Work in a long run. You have to make Money by yourself from selling a product or something like that. And they're not doing something like that at Specialisterne. They have some contact with other Companies, but the Company is staying in business by getting Money from the government. It's not okay. It's a scam.
During that same time, I was working there, it didn't seem like anyone got a real job.
All we were doing was sitting and playing with a cell phone and talk to a psychologist. It doesn't have anything to do with creating a career in the business World. The employees were not affective at all. They were only doing one assigntment which took them all day to finish.
The employees didn't get any professional training in social skills either. They were allowed to show their autistic behaviour in public by sitting and do rocking and spinning movements with their body, which is a classical sign of autism. If they're showing this strange behaviour at a Work place, it's no Wonder, if they can't keep a job.

Ms. Worm didn’t leave a link of any kind.  She just posted as anonymous.  I have no way of verifying if her claims are real but it is food for thought.  Is Thorne Sorkil an emperor with no clothes?



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Newsweek gives Gadfly equal time more than five years later.

Old time readers of Autism's gadfly may remember when a newsweek article about Ari Ne'eman and neurodiversity came out.  In response to this, I asked Newsweek to give me (or some other pro-cure person on the spectrum) equal time to rebut what Ne'eman said.  I was further dismayed when journalist Claudia Kalb questioned why anyone would be opposed to Ne'eman's nomination to the NCD.  This particular article generated some controversy when I got some inside info on it from a reliable source telling me about it  before it was actually published.  I blogged about it.  Angry anti-neurodiversity blogger John Best also blogged about it with the inflammatory headline "Ask Newsweek to Kill Ari Ne'eman"  When a commentor on his blog stated he felt the title was inflammatory, Best stated that he was not asking anyone to actually go out and shoot Ne'eman, but he believed that Ne'eman's activities were criminal and he hoped that the neurodiversity activitist would be prosecuted, convicted and executed.  This created a hornet's nest among the ND movement, who distorted the facts and claimed that Best actually threatened Ne'eman with death.

I'm happy to report that in the better late than never department, Newsweek has given me equal time I won't comment further except to say I'm glad they are willing to let voices of those on the spectrum other than those who believe in neurodiversity be heard.

Monday, January 19, 2015

happy anniversary to Gadfly

Just now, I was looking at jonathan's journal, the short lived predecessor to Autism's Gadfly, and I noticed that the date that I moved my blogging activity here was January 18, 2008.  This means that yesterday was the seventh anniversary of this blog.  I've never blogged about an anniversary before and I suppose seven years is not a milestone like ten years is, but I was still thinking about all I've been through since I created this blog.  When web developer Tim Boucher heard my studio 360 show on NPR, he was duly impressed with my interview and offered to build me a website free of charge at the end of 2002.  It had this journaling section without the ability to post comments that was a less sophisticated version of blogger, but powered by Blogger.  Twelve years ago, blogging was still something very new and I was not sure what to do with the journal section.  Eventually, I ended up posting a few things.  I wrote a rough version of my article, Neurodiversity, Just Say No, which I made into a whole article later.  Harold Doherty was nice enough to give the article a shout out on his blog.  This drew the ire of some members of the neurodiversity movement, particularly Michelle Dawson who stated that she wanted to comment on the article, but I had no comments and she alleged that Harold did not allow her to comment on his blog.  Other people seemed to be concerned that I was something of a chickenshit because I would dare write polemic on the internet without allowing people to refute my notions in a comment section.  I'd seen other blogs such as the now defunct Autism Diva and Harold Doherty's.

I decided to move my blogging from Jonathan's Journal to a new blogger blog Autism's Gadfly seven years ago yesterday for this reason.  I knew about personal attacks so I decided to add comment moderation.  Michelle Dawson then engaged in an angry rant, declaring that because I was opposed to neurodiversity this meant I was opposed to human rights.  Because I moderated comments, she stated that she would never comment on my blog as apparently I'd delete any comemnts she made that disagreed with mine.  I turned off the moderation and offered to allow her to comment, but she declined.  After leaving comment moderation off, I began to get vicious personal attacks from some of the more unsavory members of ND.  I deleted a long verbose comment by one individual who was rude and who threatened to make my life miserable and irritate me.  He continued to repost the comment after I deleted it, so I decided not to let Michelle Dawson (and others) dictate my life so I have enabled moderation.  I still publish most comments, even those that vehemently disagree with me and are sometimes nasty.  Some people seem to be dedicated to harassing me because they don't like my anti-neurodiversity pro-cure message and a few of them went over the line and I banned them.

I've seen a number of blogs come and go over the last eight or nine years or so.  Autism Diva, Natural Variation, Whose Planet is it Anyway.  Now I'm saddened that MJ of the Autism Jabberwocky has decided to retire.  I've still kept going all these years in spite of all the harassment and personal attacks and even libelous statements that I've had to endure from some of the nastier members of neurodiversity.  I know they read this and I want to tell them (or anyone else) if they think their bullying is going to shut me up they are sadly mistaken.

I keep saying that I might give up blogging or even greatly curtail my activity or take a hiatus, but I seem to want to keep on going.  I've wanted to learn more about the science of autism, read more journal articles and become much more erudite than I am already before writing autism nonfiction.  But I guess I still feel compelled to write stuff on the internet.  Though I still blog, my input has decreased somewhat over the years and I don't know when I will be compelled to write stuff, but I guess I play it by ear and wing it.

It's been a rather interesting seven years, not sure what the next seven years holds for me, but I realize the prognosis has never been good for people with autism, even those as mildly affected as I am.  As I approach the milestone of age sixty, I realize things did not turn out in my life the way I had envisioned and hoped, and it has been a tremendous disappointment to say the least.  However, I just wanted to give a shoutout of my seven year anniversary.  Happy anniversary to me.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Neuroscienist Manuel Casanova calls out the Neurodiversity movement

Nowadays it seems not only do very few people want to take the neurodiversity movement to task, but in fact many support it.  The autism society of America had Alex Plank as its keynote speaker.  They endorsed Ari Ne'eman's appointment to the NCD.  Autism Speaks has had high school dropout John Elder Robison on their scientfic advisory board.  Their coffers have served as ATM machines to Laurent Mottron, Michelle Dawson, Isabelle Souleries and probably others who believe in neurodiversity as well.  The federal government has appointed five anti-cure spectrumites to the IACC and zero pro-cure autistics, though Roger Kulp has expressed a desire to serve.  John Robison has sat on committees deciding how to do autism research and what studies to fund, though he does not even have a tenth grade education.  In a great insult to rationality this man also has a professorial title at William and Mary College.  The entire united states congress changed the name of a law just because the ND's didn't like it/

That is why I am so happy when anyone of prominence in the autism world is willing call these people to task. Dr. C is troubled as I am at the power and influence these people have wielded as of late.

Ironically enough, Dr. C poses the following question:  Do they believe that the inability to get or hold a job infers a flaw in that person's character?

I'm reminded of the  
words of retired neurodiversity blogger "The autistic bitch from hell"

These people are truly pathetic. They have been called weirdos and dummies all their lives, and deep down, they believe that's what they are. They cling to their autism diagnosis like it's a security blanket that protects them from ever having to take responsibility to improve their lives. They reflexively oppose any efforts by autistic activists to raise the issue of employment discrimination because they fear that they will lose their disability payments if other autistic people get jobs. They will grovel at the feet of any bureaucrat who can give them a benefit check, pat them sweetly on their incompetent little heads, and reassure them that they're not to blame for any of their failures because their poor defective brains weren't capable of anything better.

So, if this is the opinion of mainstream neurodiversity, the answer to Dr. C's question would appear to be a resounding yes.  This person has been rumored to be Meg Evans, who with Ari Ne'eman, cofounded the autistic self advocacy network, the premiere neurodiversity organization, some of whose members have power and influence in the government and have persuaded members of congress to write false statements to the secretary of HHS and others to get what they want.  Apparently these congress people and their staffs are either too slothful to even do the most rudimentary fact checking or perhaps they are members of ND themselves and are opposed to ending this horrific nightmare which affects so many of us.

Unfortunately, Dr. C seems to have a friendly relationship with John Robison and seems to think this individual has something useful to offer the autism community and that is unfortunate.  I won't comment any further.  I'll just let Dr. C's post speak for itself.   I hope as many people as possible will read it and take it to heart, though I doubt few people will.

To me, the word 'neurodiversity' is just as offensive as the word 'retard' the n word for blacks and the F word for gay people.  I think the rhetoric of the autistic bitch from hell speaks for itself.

I only wish more people would call out this horrid movement.