Friday, June 19, 2009

Jonathan Mitchell Autistic suck-up

I have been reading a rather interesting and amusing thread about your humble blogger. I am referred to as an example of an "autistic suckup" by some neurodiversity character who calls herself "sadder but wiser girl". This gal seems rather unhappy that I want a cure for my autism and that I don't like the neurodiversity movement. She seems to think I am spouting hate and drivel. She quotes from my article neurodiversity, just say no. She is concerned about the fact that I talk about my problems in the work place and in social relationships. She goes on to dispute the fact that I am stereotyping autistics as not being capable of relationships. This is certainly not true. I only said that autistics have impairments in relationships that often make it hard for them to find girlfriends (if they are a male autistic or a lesbian autistic). Certainly part of the diagnostic criteria of the DSM involves impaired ability to form relationships. It would appear if anyone is making stereotypes it is her. She just tries to feebly refute my arguments by showing examples of how allegedly autistic persons have romantic relationships and some NTs are single. She quotes from my article where I state:

Sometimes i would make above average errors at work, though there was some discrimination as well, (emphasis added) this does not fit in with neurodiversity's solution of accommodation.

She then goes on to state:

He blames his being autistic for all of his problems and doesn't consider that the problems may be due to discrimination rather than the fact that he is autistic.

So even though I highlighted the part of my article from which she quotes as acknowledging that discrimination I received in the workplace was in fact part (though not all) of the reasons I had job problems, she still goes on to state that I don't realize my problems might have been due to discrimination. This shows that sadder but wiser does not even bother to read very carefully items she quotes from. But no, though people's prejudices were a part of the reason I was forced out of the workplace it was not the entire reason. I did make mistakes on jobs and had other problems. Also, the fact that I could not apply myself in school and learn computer programming or other skilled work (which I did try to learn at one time) were definitely factors that made me less employable. The disability to apply myself have executive functioning were intrinsic disabilities, this was not due to societal discrimination. Had I been able to learn to be a good computer programmer (or even plumber or whatever example you want to fill) I might have still had some problems due to people not liking me due to my loud voice or funny movements, I have no doubt that I would have been able to continue working and found a job where my idiosyncrasies would be overlooked if I had a skill that was in short supply and huge demand. This also contributes to problems in the workplace for autists.

She then goes on to quote the part where I talk about self-injurious behaviors and ask what ND's want to do about that. She talks about how her sister had self-injury issues and said the solution was simple for her:
I can come up with an easy answer for that one: If society is changed, people won't see the need to dope them up with behavioral meds and do all kinds of psychologically harmful things to them to get them to stop them from banging their heads. My sister used to headbang, but we figured out that the problem was due to us yelling and bickering too much and because of us yelling at her. We have refrained from doing so and the headbanging problem, while it hasn't gone away completely, has lessened. Whenever I catch her trying to headbang, I just turn her face so that she is looking towards me and tell her "no." I then give her a hug to make her feel better and everyday, she is doing better.

Hasn't gone away completely? Does that mean she just does it five times a day instead of ten times a day? This lady is certainly vague here. Or assuming the headbanging has mostly gone away, how discomforting it must be for the parents who spent tens of thousands of dollars on ABA and biomed and still have their children headbanging or the ones who were presumably able to eliminate it spent all that money for naught. This lady must not have really gotten any wiser despite her nom de plume, as she could have hung out her shingle, cured or at least mitigated every single low functioning child who engaged in self-injurious behavior, charged less than one-tenth of what ABA and biomed practitioners charged and still become a multimillionaire. One must wonder if she really has this solution, why hasn't the world beaten a path to her door?

She is apparent disgusted by the fact that I have criticized neurodiversity for not wanting to help people with autism who are nonverbal:

Jonathan Mitchell goes on to say that "even assuming [facilitated communication] could be used for every nonverbal autistic certainly is not the same as normal speech and would not enable them to function at the same level as a normal speaking person." There we go again with the disgusting crap about how only "a normal speaking person" deserves to be emulated. This destructive drivel has been the justification for the harm of so many autistic persons. Jonathan Mitchell, if you are reading this and think that a person being "low-functioning" is a reason to do all kinds of crap to get them into the "normal" circle or "help" them

So apparently club ND just wants nonverbal autistics to rot. Wanting an autistic person to be able to communicate is just "disgusting crap". I wonder how parents of autistic parents who wish for their nonverbal children to speak would like to be enlightened that giving a nonspeaking person with autism speech is only "destructive drivel". If others of the ND persuasion feel this way, then they are lying when they say some of us misrepresent ND by saying they don't want to help persons with autism. This person clearly does not want to help persons with autism speak, how else can this be construed?

She then goes on to dispute what I say about autistic having problems with unemployment pointing out that "some autistics like Stephen Spielberg" have made a lot of money, yet provides no evidence that Spielberg is in fact autistic. Again, we see the use of celebrities and historical figures as examples of autistic successes because they can't find very many success stories among persons with legitimate autism.

She then goes on to talk about how I have taken umbrage to the fact that many in club ND have blamed me and other "curebies" for Katie McCarrons murder by virtue of the fact that autism speaks supposedly made a video saying that autistics would be better off dead shortly before Katie was murdered. Somehow the causal relationship there eludes me. I wonder why no tears are shed for Ashley Brock or many of the other autistic children who drowned or were run over by cars or trains, killing them in childhood. ND does not want to do anything about this, they want these people to continue being autistic so this can happen, so complaining about Katie McCarron's murder is certainly hypocritical.

She then goes on with these words of wisdom which she was apparently quoting from "The autism bitch from hell" About how autistics like me are just parasites on the dole and are just victims of learned helplessness, using our autism as an excuse for everything:

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.

I find this statement rather odd in light of the fact while Frank Klein and Amanda Baggs, two of the most prominent proponents of neurodiversity, as far as I can tell never worked a day in their life and collected thousands of dollars in social security and section 8 housing, subsdized by the taxpayers. In spite of multiple firings and tremdendous problems in the workplace, I worked far more than I didn't work from age 24 to 51, paying thousands of dollars in taxes. In fact the last 9 years I worked I was an independent contractor rather than a statutory employee, paying double the social security taxes. Though I have applied for SSDI in my 50s, it is improbable I will get it and it is based on tens of thousands of dollars I have put into social security. What a bunch of nonsense and drivel this young lady is espousing. I wonder why she is not critical of Frank or Amanda for all of the thousands of dollars they have cost the taxpayers. If anyone grovels at the feet of bureaucrats that will give them a disability check it would seem to me to be a number of neurodiversity proponents, who claim that they deserve this money and would turn down a cure, even if it means that there not being cured would have to be subsidized by taxpayers.

The thread goes on with responses by various posters to sadder but wisers article comparing me to a nazi who caused the holocaust, with an uncle tom black person and someone violating others civil rights. She goes on to call me an uncle tom autistic.

In another post in the thread sadder but wiser gives a plug to Phil Gluyas' Mitchell's gadfly website. This is in spite of the fact she herself expresses disdain for Gluyas obnoxious behavior but does not like him very much herself but justifies her plug with "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" cliche. From what I have seen most of Gluyas' fellow neurodiversitites don't even like him very much. He is an embarrassment to their movement by his imbecilic comments, his rudeness and obnoxious behavior. He was even threatened with being banned from Wrong Planet and had to leave the website in order to save face. Most of his fellow NDs I am sure wish he would join the other side and become a curebie. So I must be making an impact if this gal has to stoop to giving Gluyas a plug.

Someone else took a cheap shot at me and stated that someone who met me told them that I often smelled bad because i did not shower or brush my teeth or change my clothes and speculated this may have contributed to my job losses and lack of social contacts. Actually, at one time this was partially true. Though I changed clothes and brushed teeth, I did not always shower and used deodorant and had issues with hygiene. This was up until the late 1980s I wrote about it in my article about undiagnosing bill gates and other persons. Being fired from a job where one person said there had been problems with hygiene pretty much cured me of this and I then was able to take better care of my hygiene in spite of executive dysfunction problems. Persons claiming Bill Gates is autistic have used this hygiene argument to try to prove he is on the spectrum. So, the ND's know that this is one thing that handicaps autistic persons. However, I did not get involved in autism society activities and meeting others on the spectrum until 1991. So assuming this person who allegedly knew me really did tell that to this other person, it would just be from having read what I wrote in my article rather than having met me and noticing that I smelled bad. Of course, leave it to club ND to claim they want to treat persons with autism with respect and then resort to these cheap shots.

They also claimed that I often insulted persons and did not refute arguments with facts. I never insulted anyone unless they insulted me first. Of course, now I try to take the high road and regret that I did not heed the don't feed the trolls signs and responded to the flame-bait that was thrown at me. I did make one snappy comeback today to Socrates who was bashing me in Gonzo's forum today because I just could not resist. Since Gonzo has comment moderation I am not sure she will publish it. However, this is a rareity and it was in response to Harry Williams (Socrates) insults. This is an individual who often likes to take cheap shots at my disability in finding girlfriend. It shows the character and the hypocrisy of club ND along with the statement that somehow those of us who wish for a cure grovel at the feet of bureaucrats to get a check when Klein and Baggs, their major spokespeople are about the most prolific collectors of welfare and subsidized housing around.

Funny that they would call me an uncle tom autistic who wants to maintain the status quo, when I have been very critical of biomed, ABA, and have urged the abolition of the IDEA. Ari Ne'eman and ASAN are lobbying congress for full federal funding of special education, so more kids can be segregated in special ed schools, exploited and treated like crap while their parents and special educators play God with their IEPs. Interesting that Sadder but Wiser calls autism speaks a hate organization, yet does not seem to mind the fact that Michelle Dawson who claims that AS wants a short future for autistic people continues to work in the research group of Laurent Mottron who has received a half million dollar grant from the organization she detests so much. When asked why she continued to work with Mottron and why she did not resign in protest all she could come up with was the stupefying copout that "science wasn't politics". I wonder why I am an uncle tom autistic and not Ari and Michelle. That is pretty funny actually.

Well Sadder but Wiser: Thanks for giving me a good laugh and for devoting so much of your time to giving your very pathetic critiques of my work and also showing me that this proves I must be making an impact.


Stephanie Lynn Keil said...

I don't even bother with these people/this stuff anymore. It's not worth it. They obviously don't have a very good intellect; I have better things to do than waste my time with this.

But, I did find it amusing that s/he mentioned this:

"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."

What a laugh. I've been to college, I see doctors, I do art commissions for people, I get services, not all on my own, mind you, since it is difficult. I do everything I can to live a happy life but autism makes it difficult.

And, even better, I'd say that quote should really be about ND people. They're the ones who cling to their autism label, that come up with nicknames such as "Aspie" and "Autie", that use it to get SSI and not take responsibility for their lives.

I do everything I can do to get help/treatment. I don't simply sit in my room and blog all day while living off SSI.

Roger Kulp said...,Aspies for Freedom,and Wrong Planet are all places so bad,that even a lot on the more "respectable" ND bloggers no longer take them seriously.

You know what they say,all that matters is that they spell your name right.

Johnathan,have you actually been diagnosed as learning disabled ?

Anybody who has actually been through special education,would know that it is nothing to lobby for.The whole SE system needs to be scrapped and rebuilt from the bottom up.

But what would a man who knew what a pterodactyl was at age two,or was it four,know about being in special education ?

jonathan said...

Johnathan,have you actually been diagnosed as learning disabled ?

Hi roger, I have a very bad fine motor coordination and perceptual motor problem that impairs my handwriting and ability to put together puzzles, etc. Also much worse performance score than verbal score on IQ test. They called it a learning disability of sorts, though it is different from what is considered a learning disability here, in the USA and that is a perceptual problem like dyslexia that causes people to have problems with reading.

Nowadays what I have would probably be called a nonverbal learning disability.

John Elder Robison said...

Jonathan, I just read your original story and I’d like to offer some thoughts with respect to that and your comments about anti-cure people, the NIH reviews, and TMS . . .

First of all, as I said in response to another of your posts, I have never been opposed to therapies that address weakness in you, me, or anyone else. When working with NIH, I did my very best to vote for research that furthered the goal of finding ways to make all our lives better.

What I am opposed to is the concept of autism elimination via abortion of future generations. That is what’s meant by some people when they talk “cure,” and I don’t like that.

Another thing I don’t like is the idea that certain people may want to mandate therapies for those of us on the spectrum. I believe we all deserve the right to choose.

Personally, I would choose to try something that offered a good shot at making my life better, but I know others would choose to remain the same, and that’s their right.

With that in mind, I recognize that nonverbal autistic people present a difficult moral dilemma should therapies be available, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

I believe certain autistic brain traits serve an evolutionary purpose, and I think elimination of all people with autistic differences would harm society greatly in the long run.

At the same time, though, I fully support any therapies that would address limitations such as you describe in your story. Indeed, I share some of those limitations and I am fully aware that it’s only by the grace of God or whatever that I am not even more impaired.

The TMS research I am involved in came about because one of the neuroscientists had the idea that TMS might be a tool to reach people like his own non verbal nephew. I share that hope, and I have participated in work with them in hopes we can attain that goal.

You may ask how disabled a person like me is, and indeed I function pretty well. But brain studies suggest that you and I – as two autistic people – share key brain differences, and it is some of those that TMS targets. It’s easier to try that with higher functioning people like me for a variety of reasons, many of which are ethical. But the ultimate goal is to help our highly impaired population.

Indeed, TMS is one of the only tools we have that offers the prospect of truly fixing any components of autistic disability. Therapies like ABA may help is via practice, but they don’t reach into the brain and change anything. TMS may be able to do that. Drugs can’t do it – at least not with today’s technology – because they reach the whole brain, not just target areas. Genetic research may help identify autism early, but it won’t help living people like you or me. What else is there? I don’t see much on the horizon but I believe the promise of TMS is real.

However, I want to make it very clear that I am not selling anything here. There is no TMS therapy on the market now, nor is there a prospect of one in the immediate future. What there is, is hope for the future as a result of research success. That’s enough for me. I’m not suggesting you or anyone else go out and chase this, because there is nothing to chase. For now, it’s in the hands of scientists.

Given my present level of functionality, I don’t think there is a part of me that needs to be “cured” though there are always things I could improve. However, that’s just me. I don’t presume to speak for you or anyone else.

I am fully aware that there are many autistic people who have a strong desire to cure specific aspects of their own autism while at the same time not wanting to change the essence of themselves.
And I know the prospect of any therapy that changes the brain is scary, and something to think about carefully. I hope the current research can deliver benefits for the people our age in our lifetimes.

I hope that makes my own position clearer.

jonathan said...

John Robison: Not sure what you mean by "my story" In your book on page 5, you say that Asperger's is not a disease and you have no need for a cure for yourself. That certainly has nothing to do with autistic fetuses. I wonder what your qualifications are to review research other than being diagnosed with AS in your 40s and having a commercially successful book. The combating autism act was specifically addressed to cure and prevent (not abortion) autism. You say you have AS in spite of having a wife, a child and good careers.

I don't see what the difference is between treating someone with TMS and having amelioration of autism symptoms and curing them. A cure means restoring to normal state of health.

Genetic research may not do me any good (or you, though I am not sure what you have to be cured of except for eye contact problems and some mild quirks) but it is certainly something that may help future generations.

Adults to have a right to choose therapies for themselves now. Children do not have that right by law whatever your point of view may be. I don't think you allow your child to do whatever he wants. I was forced by my parents to go to special ed schools (i am pretty sure you have never attended one). I had no choice in that and the after school tutoring for my perceptual motor impairments which did nothing to help me.

There is no scientific evidence that any autism brain traits serve any evolutionary purpose.

TMS may or may not have promise. It may be an avenue worth pursuing.

As a taxpayer (at least at one time) I certainly have the right to question what you and Stephen Shore are doing and as you think persons with autism should be given a choice in treatments I have a right to have a choice as to who can review research and what their qualifications are (questionable in both your cases).

John Elder Robison said...

You said,

"I don't see what the difference is between treating someone with TMS and having amelioration of autism symptoms and curing them. A cure means restoring to normal state of health."

That is the goal of current TMS research, with respect to specific symptoms.

"Genetic research may . . . help future generations."

I agree with that too.

You say,
"Adults have a right to choose therapies for themselves now. Children do not have that right by law whatever your point of view may be."

That's actually not true when the adults are assigned guardians.

You say,
"I was as forced by my parents to go to special ed schools"

So was I, in various after and during school programs. I didn't like it.

If you question my qualification as a reviewer, why don't you hold yourself out as an alternative or additional reviewer?

jonathan said...

I am not sure if I have the necessary qualifications myself but how would I go about applying as an alternate reviewer just out of curiousity?

John Elder Robison said...

Jonathan, if you write me at I'll be discuss the reviewer thing further with you

Sarah said...

At any rate, I liked some of the NIH cartoons on VADLO search engine!