I see that the neurodiversity movement is once again patting themselves on the back for a victory in their latest cause celebre'. A blogger known as Club 166 has written about it
Apparently, there was a billboard on a sign in Pennsylvania put out by one of the chapters of the autism society there that read: If 1/150 children were kidnapped, we would have an emergency, we do autism. Predictably, club 166, and other members of ND took umbrage to this sign and wrote a letter protesting the sign to the autism chapter's president. Other members of the ND movement lead by no less than the August Ari Ne'eman, president of the autistic self-advocacy network, followed suit and also wrote protesting the sign. Previously about two years ago (or maybe a year and a half ago) Ne'eman and others lead a protest to have the famous ransom notes campaign ended. They were successful in this end. Interestingly, well-known ND blogger autism bitch from hell joined in the fray. This is a woman who apparently finds humor in saying that autistic persons such as myself who desire a cure should be strangled to death and turned into cat food, yet somehow finds a sign saying that autism is as bad as being kidnapped offensive, go figure.
The issue was quickly resolved, as Amy Wallace, the president of the chapter, wrote an apology letter to club 166 and the sign was removed. ND rejoiced in this great victory.
This sign was not even exactly like the ransom notes campaign which stated that autistic children were being held hostage. The sign just said if children were kidnapped it would be an emergency but did not say the autistic children were being kidnapped.
A victory for ND? Yes, I agree, it was. However, more importantly was this a victory for autistic persons and their families? I do not believe it was. If I remember correctly club 166's son is 9 years old-still not old enough to have faced all of the challenges that autism will impose when the person on the spectrum reaches adolescence and adulthood. What does club 166 really know about the adolescence angst of rejection? What does he know of being fired from multiple jobs and not being able to make a living. These scenarios for his son "buddy boy" when he is older are certainly not implausible. How will having get rid of this billboard help "buddy boy" to have a decent life, with friends, a decent education, a job. How will it make a difference in his life. Will he be able to function in society properly? Will he be able to have hobbies and do the things he wants?
I will admit, I don't know anything about buddy boy's clinical picture, so I will talk about something more generic. What of even relatively high functioning (mildly) autistic children, who can't even get through kindergarten and get in trouble for breaking crayons and not being able to pay attention to the teacher, only to have to repeat kindergarten? I know of one case of this, as the mother of a boy who had this recently happen to her son had written me and my mother about this. I met this boy. He is 6, has mild problems compared to many autistic children. I wonder though about his self-esteem at having to repeat kindergarten. How will this help high functioning people who have trouble managing their affairs, paying their bills, having independent living skills. How will it help them behaviorally if they can't keep quiet in a movie theatre and disturb other patrons? I know of one autistic child who did this. How will it help one person who was kicked out of our autism group because he could not control untoward sexual advances towards persons who came to the meeting?
These are all relatively mild cases of autism that I have talked about above. What of the severely autistic persons, those who can't speak, and pound their heads into cement. How will removing this billboard help them?
If neurodiversity is really about human rights and dignity, if it is about helping autistics achieve their full potential and this is the best they can do I believe it is rather pathetic.
Is this a victory for autistic people. I believe not. We have had a quick resolution to the problem of the sign, but now what?