Monday, May 26, 2008

Neurodiversity article in New York Magazine

An article about neurodiversity has just come out in New York magazine. I just finished reading it and I am pleased to announce that yours truly got a brief mention in the article and author Andrew Solomon quoted a sentence or two from my article "Neurodiversity: Just Say No" It was an interesting article and fairly well-balanced, though seems a slight bias towards the ND side of the story.

I was not mentioned until close to the end of the article. so wondered if someone whose diagnosis would be autism (even high functioning) rather than asperger's syndrome would be mentioned. I also wondered if any mention would be made of autistic adults who have tried to make a living and the problems that so often happens to those of us on the spectrum who are too disabled to be continually "substantially and gainfully employed". The reason I was concerned about this were that Mr. Solomon's shining examples were Ari neeman and Alex Plank, two individuals diagnosed with asperger's syndrome rather than autism, neither of whom, at least in my book, should be considered an adult. They are both under 21, are still developing college students and are not yet old or mature enough to have attempted to go out in the world and make a living at a serious job, so the problems that many of us on the spectrum have of holding down a job are really an abstraction to these two. Once they finish school and are adults, they will have to think about supporting themselves, which might be difficult for them if their asperger's significantly impairs them. It is not unthinkable, they might come around to my viewpoint, once they understand the real problems autistic adults face. I seem to remember also both of these individuals were diagnosed quite late in childhood. I also wonder if Alex Plank has ever been in a special education setting. I have been told by Michelle Dawson and Ari himself that he has been a special ed student. So I am still waiting to hear about someone who is an adult, gone out in the world tried to make a living has an ASD disorder that involved a speech delay and was a special ed student as I was who is a neurodiversity proponent.

I was also reading the left brain/right brain blog's author Keven Leitch, who now seems to have come around to the prospect that a cure might not be so bad, but might actually not be necessary, though he gives no alternatives to a cure that might help an autistic. But Kev seems to say, he would not get in the way of a cure if there could be a cure. A long way from the "we don't need no stinkin' cure" motto of the autism hub that they apparently changed for some mysterious reason to something about acceptance of autistic people.

Kathleen Seidel seems to say that she is not opposed to treatments being found for people with autism so she does not seem to think that autism is not all joy and beauty, so this may be another example of one neurodiversity proponent trying to have it both ways.

Alex Plank, does make some sense in that he says that since there is no cure there is no point in arguing about it, but wants something done for the autistic people on this planet now whom with his alleged asperger's diagnosis i don't think he has much in common with. But we also have to think about the lives of children who will be born in the future and what we can do to ensure they will not have to suffer from all the hardships an ASD can bring. This is why the work of autism speaks and other organizations are so important.

On the subject of autism speaks, i was very disappointed to again read Ari Neeman as being quoted that autism speaks is complicit in the murders of autistic children just because of one dumb remark one person associated with the organization made in a video. It is unfortunate this kind of demagoguery has to be used by these people to justify their otherwise unjustifiable position.

Lenny Schaefer was saying don't write about these people, we don't need to give them publicity. Though I find neurodiversity as distasteful as Mr. Schaefer (though I don't agree with him on vaccines causing autism and the likelihood of a true rise of autism), I don't believe he is correct on this. Neurodiversity is no less of a fringe movement than people who believe the earth is flat and at some point, when they start getting more publicity people will see how silly their position truly is. I hope then at some point that parents of newly diagnosed children will reject this movement. I hope this will motivate people to find medical solutions to autism.

I realize that Plank's point about we want something done for autistics who are here now may be well taken. It is true, that the scientific research that autism speaks funds may not provide beneficial treatments let alone cures for people with autism in our lifetime, though as I said in the previous paragraph we do have to think about future generations. However, what can be done for the autistic persons on this planet now? I wish I had some easy quick fix answers but I don't. However, I don't believe that ABA, poorly thought out laws like the IDEA and the IEPs (Idiotic Expectations Programs) are any answer. I also don't believe that acceptance, preaching neurodiversity provide any answers to autism either. Also societal acceptance certainly provide no answer to nonspeaking head-banging autistics whose problems neurodiversity proponents won't seem to acknowledge. Therefore I hope that people will reject this way of thinking. I also hope that pieces like those published in the New York Magazine will allow those to see for themselves what a misguided movement this is and will lead people to reject it.


Anonymous said...

I'm actually turning 22 in less than a month.

jonathan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jonathan said...

Hi Alex, thanks for telling me your age, I stand corrected. However, I seem to remember you are still in college, have not been out in the adult world supporting yourself, so the point i made about you and ari still stands. You are both too young to understand the problems most autistic adults face in the workplace, these are an abstraction to you. I sure do hope, that when you graduate college you will be able to make a living and won't go through the utter hell that I went through and most of us who are more severely afflicted went through.

Also, I was wondering where you get the idea that most autistic people don't want to be cured. Still waiting for an answer from you on that one.