I have just read another interesting piece about the neurodiversity movement. This piece was good in that it seemed to give a well balanced perspective, showing both the pros and the cons of neurodiversity. One of the more interesting things was the article cited a study that was recently published in the journal dyslexia showing that persons with autism and related disabilities who believed in the neurodiversity movement had greater self-esteem and academic aspirations than those autistics that did not believe in the ND philosophy. This is what the article states verbatim:
According to recent research, people with autism who accept the neurodiversity platform have more self-esteem, and have more academic and career ambition that those who see autism as a medical condition with its array of disadvantages. In one study, students with autism who held the latter view more often applied for special assistance and monetary allowance through disabled students programs.
The abstract of this study is here
As regular readers of my blog could possibly surmise, this statement hits home with me as I am one of those on the autistic spectrum who finds neurodiversity about as appealing as poison ivy or hemorrhoids. I also have very low self-esteem.
I have not read the actual article in Dyslexia myself, but I did read the abstract which was provided as a reference at the end of the blog piece I linked to. Therefore, I suppose I cannot completely comment on the specifics of the study and the findings. I do feel this whole idea raises some interesting concepts and questions which I would like to elucidate on.
Is there a casual relationship between adopting a neurodiverse way of thinking and having an improved self-esteem, having greater chance of success academically, financially in romance etc. than an autistic with a negative point of view such as myself. The results of this research could be interpreted as such by someone who wants to put a positive spin in favor of the ND movement. This could be an argument in favor of neurodiversity.
But when one looks at the typical proponent of neurodiversity we see that the majority of them seem to be females. This is in spite of the literature stating there is a 4:1 ratio of males to females. This ratio is somewhat controversial among some who claim that autism is underestimated in females, but to date, as far as I know, no empirical evidence has ever given this hypothesis any credibility. The neurodiversity persons are also for the most part much higher functioning than many others with autism including myself. Some of them can graduate college, hold down jobs and get married. One must wonder if these are a representative sample of autism. So this is equivalent to the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Does neurodiversity result in higher self-esteem and possible success or is it that really the people who believe in ND are generally much higher functioning and would have greater career aspirations and would not be as inclined to need help from a disability office. This is in addition to the ND autistics being a very unrepresentative sample of most of those with autism.
How would John Best's son or Harold Doherty's son stack up in this. Sam Best and Connor Doherty would probably not function at the level to have the same career aspirations as most ND autistics and would more likely require more financial assistance due to being lower functioning.
Michelle Dawson has told me at one time that she was not unlike myself, that she longed for a cure for autism. At the time her self-esteem was low and she was not in good psychological shape. But since adopting her current way of thinking, she has done much better psychologically. Apparently a change in her attitude now makes her more happy about having a neurologic condition that causes her to self-mutilate herself. Why a person would not want to be cured of this I have no idea, but Michelle is an adult in control of her faculties and is only hurting herself, so if she wishes to remain this way, I am certainly not going to stop her.
But one wonders if this attitude is helpful, or if deep down Michelle and other autistics really feel another way subconsciously. It was Sigmund Freud who postulated the concept of psychologic defense mechanisms I believe this provides the explanation for the higher self-esteem of those who believe in neurodiversity.
Denial is one such defense mechanisms that the ND use. Denial means that they filter out those ideas that are unpleasant to them, such as autism being a defect. They can't deal with it, so they just deny this reality. This is why ASAN engaged in their campaign against the ransom notes for example. They could not deal with autism being a deficiency , so they just denied that fact.
Another defense mechanism used widely by those in the ND movement is reaction formation turning something you truly hate into something you love. Therefore, the ND will say that autism equals genius and greatness and that Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and others had autism. This explains michelle's attitudes. It explains why Kristina Chew would claim that she is satisfied with the functioning level of her autistic child, yet drugs him with dangerous psychiatric medication due to his functioning being so impaired. It explains why Estee Klar-Wolfhond would turn something she hates into something she takes joy in, ergo "the joy of autism" as a blog title. Ms. Chew and Ms. Wolfhond are parents who tried ABA on their children, lured by the pie-in-the-sky promise of a coin flip probability of complete normalcy after a few years of treatment. When the pie-in-the-sky promise in reality turned out to be shit-from-the-sewer, these ladies embraced neurodiversity in disillusionment. They needed this philosophy to help their self-esteem to help them deal with their handicapped children.
Ergo, perhaps the results of this study are not all they seem.