I see that the neurodiversity movement has come out with a new public service announcement film:
The film shows four members of the neurodiversity movement with their pollyannish statements about how autism is not a tragedy, they are not empty shells and that it is okay to be autistic. The film features four different individuals who state that they are autistic. I will give my take on these four individuals not in the order of their appearance. The first person in the film whom I will comment on is an apparently nonverbal autistic who only communicates using a communication computer. His name is Jacob Pratt. I am giving my take on Jacob first because I agree with his statement that he is autistic secondarily and a person first and that he should be treated with respect. However, what is truly ironic about this statement is that it contradicts one of the tenets of the ND movement that autism is who they are. Their brain is hardwired from birth and if a cure were ever found for autism, it would kill them in the sense it would completely change their entire brain and turn them into another person. Research on the etiology of autism has probably not yet advanced to the point that it completely disproves this allegation; however, as is typical, the neurodiversitites have no proof for this completely speculative idea. It certainly contradicts my experience as having my ability to read intact, yet I have perceptual motor deficits that impair my ability to handwrite and put puzzles together. There is a 40 point discrepancy between my scores on the verbal IQ test and the performance IQ test. This suggests that part of my brain is intact and part of it is impaired, so I can give that take from my own personal experience if no one else's.
The second person in the video is a young man named Ben Liske who can't possibly be older than 12 years old. He states that at this young age he is a mathematician, musician and scholar and that with the right supports he can do anything anyone else can but not in the same way. Given the fact he is not yet an adult and has not even attempted to make a living, this is certainly a premature statement. If neurodiversity has a different way that anyone with autism can do things as well as anyone else, I am sure that Harold Doherty, JB Handley and other parents who long for a cure for their children would embrace these with open arms. Naturally they give no solutions other than Ari Nee'man's automaton "being anti-cure is not being anti-progress". More about Neeman later.
The third person they have on this video is Deena Gassner, a person with alleged autism who is so high functioning that she was able to get married, have a child and become a licensed clinical social worker. I have first hand experience with Deena as I have met her in person at a couple of different national ASA conferences. She does not seem to be autistic to me and what impairments she has or what would lead any physician or clinical psychologist to diagnose her as autistic is beyond me.
Last, but certainly not least is ASAN president Ari Nee'man who uses the "royal we" that Harold Doherty has written about in his blog: "our lives are not tragedies" "The national conversation about autism is happening without us". Nee'man is someone who was born in approximately 1987 and was not diagnosed with Asperger's (not classic autism with a speech delay) until he was 12 years old. Apparently, before that time, he was thought of as having ADHD. He certainly has nothing in common with people with severe autism such as Dov Shestack, Connor Doherty, and John Belmonte. John Belmonte, the brother of brain researcher Matthew Belmonte, cannot speak and barring a miracle will have to live in a group home under 24/7 supervision for the rest of his life. Nee'man's empty platitudes offer no solutions to someone like this. He has no solution to the fact that I have to be unemployed and celibate, that I can't wrap presents at Christmas time or have handwriting that is only semi-legible that is a strain to get out. He has no solutions to the fact that I cannot interact with people, have few friends and cannot help making funny movements in public and drawing attention to myself or the multitude of other problems that make my life hard. All he wants to do is speak for everyone on the autistic spectrum, including those of us like myself who had a speech delay at age 3 and are high functioning autistic rather than asperger's.
I would also like to comment on Nee'man's completely fallacious statement that the national conversation about autism is happening without him and others of his ilk. In 2006 when congress was debating the combating autism act Nee'man and his friends literally protested with placards. Yet when this law was passed he and the rest of the neurodiversity hypocrites embraced this law and immediately went to the IACC with all sorts of suggestions. The IACC had no problem apparently listening to their agenda. In spite of the fact the only purpose of the CAA and the IACC's creation was to cure and prevent autism. Therefore, I believe Nee'man and the other neurodiversitites are being given a free pass to which they are not entitled.
If neurodiversitites have a solution to the problems of autistic people, then they should state them on their web pages instead of wasting time, making such superficial vacuous videos. They have provided no evidence that their quick fix solutions to the problems of autism are anything other than myths. I must agree with Nee'man's statement at the end of the video that it is time to leave old stereotypes behind. It is a shame that Ari cannot practice what he preaches.