Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ari Ne'eman:One step closer to confirmation

Well more bad news on the autism advocacy front is that Ari Ne'eman is one step closer to clinching his nomination to the National Disabilities Council. His nomination has now been approved by a senate committee, who likely knows nothing about neurodiversity, and will go forward to the complete senate for a most likely inevitable confirmation. As I have written previously Ne'eman is being appointed to a council with the word Disabilities in it, though I have provided evidence that Ne'eman most likely does not even believe that autism or Asperger's (which he has) is a disability. I have previously written about the essay where Ne'eman changed the wording of his difference does not equal disability statement to difference is only disability when not accommodated for, which the interested reader can verify by following the preceding link. I expressed regrets that I did not take a screen shot of the original essay. One of my readers who does not like neurodiversity any more than I do sent me what he said was a screen shot of the essay as it originally appeared before Ne'eman edited it. I am not sure how to print this on blogger and I am not sure it is worth the effort and trouble to find out how and print this. What he also sent me was another example where Ne'eman stated that Asperger's syndrome, which he has, isn't a disability. Ne'eman stated:

I happened to stumble upon your entry on a Yahoo Search for Asperger's and I'm glad I did. As a teen with Asperger's, I strongly suggest you tell your son as soon as possible. The fact is he is different. What's more, this is not a bad thing. Any individual who accomplishes anything is different. It's his right and his requirement to know who he is, and what makes him different from those around him. Furthermore,Asperger's Syndrome is hardly what one would think of as a disability. I recommend you take a look at Norm Ledgin's "Diagnosing Jefferson", a wonderful book that suggests that one of the founders of our nation had Asperger's. As I and the book can attest, it is not in spite of but because of the characteristics that set us apart from others that "Aspies", as the popular nickname goes, have the ability to do great things.

The day will come when Asperger's will be recognized for what it truly is: a difference, not a disability, and in many ways an advantage. I think you owe it to your son to talk to him about who he is and help him succeed as that person, not pretend (or worse yet, force him to pretend) to be someone else. I'm somewhat notably successful for my age and as a result I've occasionally been asked to speak to newly diagnosed "Aspies" and at a few conferences about Asperger's and special education in general. One of the things I've always tried to stress is the vital importance of recognizing the advantages of difference and not falling into the trap so many do that different is defective.

It is possible that one of the reasons that Ne'eman was appointed to this position by the Obama administration was his claim that he himself is a stakeholder as a disabled person as per his 'nothing about us without us' mantra. But Ne'eman has stated that he has Asperger's. In this statement which I have printed out and the link that I have provided, we see evidence that Ne'eman (at least at one time) did not even believe that Asperger's was a disability ergo not believing that he himself is a disabled person serving on the disabilities council, so why wouldn't it be deceptive advertising if he has presented himself as a disabled person before the U.S. Senate, claiming he deserves to be a stakeholder alongside nondisabled person on the council?

One interesting sidenote is that Ne'eman trivializes the angst of autism spectrum disorders by claiming that Thomas Jefferson was one of us. I believe I have debunked that notion elsewhere.

I have written both of my U.S. Senators urging them not to confirm Ne'eman to the post, but there is nothing else more that I can do. I suspect Ne'eman will be appointed and there is nothing I can do about it. It is very clear that Ne'eman has stated that he believes autism and Asperger's are not disabilities in the past. I think it is less likely he will be able to go into this post and edit it though as he was able to edit his essay after I called him out on it. He will now state that he believes autism is a disability for political reasons. What is more significant though is that Ne'eman will perpetuate the myth that autism is no great tragedy as he did in that PSA soundbite ironically titled 'No myths'. He will give quick fix simplistic solutions such as claiming that autistics can be fully employed if social pleasantry is eliminated as a criteria for hiring.

As some of my readers know I have been trying to get on SSDI for nearly 3 years. If anyone at all takes Ne'eman (or anyone else from the warped ND movement for that matter) seriously. People in goverment won't see autism as a problem. This means we won't get the help we need. There are some persons who have never worked such as friends Roger Kulp and Stephanie Keil who receive SSI. What if someone had listened to Ne'eman or another like-minded member of the NDC. Is it possible these two individuals would have been denied their benefits and would have to live in even more extreme poverty than they do now? Will the NDC be able to influence the direction scientific research goes in? This means that genetic research in autism will not be funded if Ne'eman has his way, something that could help future generations of autistics. Does this mean we will lose a diminished capacity defense if someone commits what would be a crime for a typical person due to having autistic symptomatology. If Ne'eman preaches what he did in his equality means responsibility essay, then the answer is yes. Will our prisons and institutions be packed with even more ASD persons whose behavior they might not be able to help due to their disability. Of course, Ne'eman will say that Zackery (sp??) Price should get a free pass for some reason in spite of what he wrote in his essay.

Though Ne'eman usually tries to be polite, does this mean that certain neurodiversity members such as the very nasty Harry Williams (AKA Socrates) and the nasty Marc Rosen who enjoys insulting my mother and trying to bring back the Bettelheim era as Clay Adams, Phil Gluyas and some of the more extreme vicious members of club ND have tried to do will be given a license to insult and abuse others.

Will Ne'eman only try to maintain the failed status quo as he has in the past by supporting full federal funding of the IDEA? Does this mean same old, same old from NDC and other government bodies? Does this mean the end of medicaid waivers for those with autism if it is no longer considered a disability and Ne'eman's equality means responsibility mantra extends for people providing for their own medical care as well as not being given a free pass for criminal behavior?

Only time will tell after Ne'eman's appointment is inevitably confirmed by the entire body of the U.S. Senate.


John Best said...

It's like everything else in our corrupt government. Our Congress has no problem with Rothschild stealing our money, or our jobs being sent to China or illegal aliens coming here for free health care. There is nothing honest in our government and we have to have another revolution.

Jake Crosby said...

I got all excited when I saw one Senator, Tom Coburn, refusing to confirm Ari's nomination thinking we might have a sympathetic voice in the Senate.

Then I did some background research on the guy and found that he is an ultra-conservative whack job in every sense of the word, and would probably turn down any nomination by Obama.

What a disappointment...

Marius Filip said...

Ne'eman speaketh: "People with Asperger's can do great many things" and "Asperger's is a difference, not a disability".

What Ne'eman implies is that people with disabilities CANNOT do great things.

This crippled logic really means: "if I worth anything then I cannot be disabled - just different".

If we apply negation upon the above statement, it becomes: "If I am disabled then I worth nothing" (it's basic math logic working here).

All this idiocy named ND rests upon the criminal idea that value and disability are incompatible notions which means that disabled people, in fact, worth nothing.

It's quite amazing that such an individual ends up representing people with disabilities.

Walt said...


I do not know where you get the idea those two statements you attribute to Ne'eman would lead to that implication, never mind the additional twisting you add to arrive at your straw man conclusion.

Just replace "people with Aspergers" with any other descriptor.

"Black people can do many great things." (True)

"Being black is a difference, not a disability." (True)

Nobody would interpret those two statements taken together to imply: "People with disabilities cannot do great things."

Then again, I don't know. Maybe YOU would.

Marius Filip said...


Thanks for the insight. Yet, you misrepresent what I was saying.

Read what Ne'eman says in his article (reproduced by Jonathan).

It's quite clear that what he says is "Aspies can do great things, therefore Asperger's is a difference, not a disability".

For instance, see: "Any individual who accomplishes anything is different." corroborated with "Furthermore,Asperger's Syndrome is hardly what one would think of as a disability.".

What reason would Ne'eman give for claiming Asperger's not being a disability other than the capacities of Aspies to do great things? To me, this reads: "do you do great things? then you must not be disabled because otherwise you wouldn't be capable of such great things; your peculiarity must be a sheer difference and not a disability!".

For the "straw man conclusion" you mention, simply apply negation upon the implication from above.

This link between accomplishment (hence, of personal worth) and the state of being or not being disabled is, in my opinion, at the root of the illogical stance of Neurodiversity and is, in fact, deeply degrading against people with disabilities.

Being worthy as a human being, being capable of achievements and being normal/disabled are three COMPLETELY different things - at least to me.

It is the ND guys who consider that being disabled subtracts from the personal value of an individual and that being able of achievements paves the way to consider a disorder like Asperger's a difference and not a disability - not me.

Anonymous said...

"Being worthy as a human being, being capable of achievements and being normal/disabled are three COMPLETELY different things - at least to me."

*100% agree*

If being worthy as a human being depends on achievements then what about everyone who hasn't achieved notable stuff yet?

If being capable of achievements means not being disabled then are blindness and deafness not disabilities (Helen Keller kicked ass!)?

Walt said...


Nowhere in the quotes you have provided does Ne'eman say that disabled people have no worth. I myself agree with the direct quotes that you have provided from Ne'eman and I do not believe that disabled people are without worth. There is no logical progression, no matter how you twist it, from "Aspies can do great things" combined with "Aspergers is a difference, not a disability" to "If I am disabled then I am worth nothing."

I am Aspergerian. I don't believe I am disabled (quite the contrary). If I were paralyzed I WOULD be disabled. If I were paralyzed I would still continue to have worth. People who are paralyzed CAN do great things.

I believe each of the statements in the above paragraph. They do not logically contradict in any way. Given that one can hold each of these statements as true without a logical contradiction, I see no reason, barring actual direct statements from Ne'eman himself to the contrary, that Ne'eman himself does not hold similarly noncontroversial opinions about the worth of disabled individuals.

Anonymous said...

"There is nothing honest in our government"

Nothing? Not even the traffic lights and stop signs put up by the government at many intersections?

"I met this guy recently, who apparently gets a lot of mileage,and sympathy from being a "disasbled" veteran,even though he told me he runs in marathons, and has no outward sign of disability,either mental or physical.

So I asked him what his "disability" was.He told me he had a peice of shrapnel,less than two inches long,in one shoulder, that caused him a little trouble moving that arm.

"That was it.

Sort of gives you some perspective about what some people claim is a "disability"."

I heard that in the Veterans Administration, "disabled veteran" status is what makes a veteran eligible for free or reduced-cost healthcare for life.

Maybe the VA designated him a "disabled veteran" because he was stuck with that shrapnel from his military service and this way if he needed treatment for it he could more easily get it?

"Ari Ne'eman is a lot like that."

A lot like this guy getting sympathy for it, yeah, even if not like this guy being designated "disabled" by the VA.

Stephanie said...

"Just replace "people with Aspergers" with any other descriptor.

"Black people can do many great things." (True)

"Being black is a difference, not a disability." (True)

Okay, here's this:

"Profoundly autistic people can do many great things." (False)

"Being profoundly autistic is a difference, not a disability." (False)

Here again I see NDs flawed logic: comparing skin color to a neurological disorder, as though they are anything alike. This is just as flawed as comparing homosexuality to ASDs.

Most of those with Asperger's who have done "great things" were diagnosed after death so it is impossible to know if they truly had AS or not. Who wouldn't want to say that past geniuses had Asperger's since ASDs are now the "big" thing? Maybe by labeling a bunch of past geniuses with ASDs more money will flow their way. Seems likely, especially since many of these "Aspie" geniuses have been diagnosed with other disorders in the past for the same reasons (e.g. dyslexia, bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, schizophrenia, etc.)

Is "Asperger's" now the "key" to genius? Before it was bipolar. Before that it was depression. Before that learning disabilities and etc. etc. etc. Why don't we stop pretending like we know what makes a "genius" and instead just state that they are "geniuses."

If they happen to have AS than they are geniuses that also have AS. Not every genius has AS: in fact, most do not. So to say that AS leads to genius is a logical fallacy since most geniuses do not have AS. I honestly don't understand where the popular "In order to be a genius you need to have AS" comes from since most geniuses do not have AS.

"Nobody would interpret those two statements taken together to imply: "People with disabilities cannot do great things."

"I am Aspergerian. I don't believe I am disabled (quite the contrary)."

If I remember correctly, Walter is an accomplished "Aspergerian." He doesn't define himself as disabled, even though he is accomplished, even though he says he has Asperger's, which most define as a "disability." Why does he have such a problem with saying he has a disability? Why do so many "Aspergerians" have this problem? I honestly don't understand this.

Walter says that he doesn't believe that people with disabilities cannot do great things. But he, someone accomplished (I believe) cannot even admit that he has a disability.

Walt said...


People here should stop using the word "logic" until they understand what it means.

Marius Filip created a strawman to knock down by taking two statements that he attributed to Ne'eman and used these to infer a third statement which, we were to believe, somehow followed from the first two.

The third statement does not follow from the first two. Perhaps Ne'eman does believe that disabled people have no worth. But the statements provided by Marius simply do not provide one iota of evidence that this is the case.

Substituting "black people" for "People with Aspergers" makes clear that the logical connection between the statements is nonexistent. Rejecting that you belong to a class does not imply
that that class does or does not have inherent worth. I chose "black people" because I assumed people in this group would see it as a noncontroversial truth.

You may substitute "profoundly autistic people" if you want. I don't know the point. Ne'eman is not attributed with this statement. But EVEN if he were, you still could not get from there to "disabled people have no worth." It does not follow from the two statements no matter what category you replace "People with Aspergers" with.

And when have I or anyone else here said that every aspergerian is a genius? Or that every genius is an aspergerian?

And as for why I can't admit I have a disability. Because, while it has caused me some problems, my success in life stems directly from this integral part of who I am.

I have not been disabled by Aspergers. I have been enabled by it.

Stephanie said...

I wasn't taking anything that Marius or Ne'eman said into account, only what you had written and what I have read among the "Asperigan" community.

I know that some in the AS community compare AS to homosexuality and to skin color in regard that AS is merely a "difference" and not a disability.

I have read that in order to be a "genius" one needs to have "autistic traits."

You must also realize that you are a rare case for some with Asperger's: most people with AS are unemployed. Do you even have an official diagnosis? If you do than good for you: but you are the exception, not the rule.

You have been successful in spite of your AS, not because of it.

Walt said...


I do not accept that I am a rare case. My father was, I now see in hindsight, as much on the spectrum as I was (complete with minor do-complex-math-in-his-head savantism). I grew up in a high tech engineering town surrounded by scores of these total social-misfits who were, despite everything, the best of the best in their insanely narrow technical fields. At the time, I didn't know what autism and Aspergers was. Now I can see that the system and rule based thinking that is predominant in my breed is perfectly suited to give us the edge in a variety of complex intellectual pursuits.

When I was in kindergarten, sitting in a corner, uninterested in interacting with the other children and, upon occasion, banging my head against the glass of the sliding back door of our house, my father did not see an empty shell. He saw a future scientist or mathematician. He encouraged me to read and study any subject and pursue it for as long and as deep as I wanted to go. My father, rather than subjecting me to whatever the equivalent anti-vax pro-chelation pseudo-science fad of the day might have been or using me as a prop to get sympathy or money, instead spent his time instilling in me a respect for reason, rationality and clear thinking.

I did not overcome my Aspergerian nature. I learned to harness it. I learned to focus its strengths and suppress or divert its weaknesses.

Lacking any real interest in either, I ended up early on deciding not to pursue a scientific or mathematical career. The hodge-podge decades that I spent jumping in and out of journalism, publishing, writing, and graphics have been very rewarding for me. Should I die tomorrow I will do so content with the satisfaction that my life was what I wanted it to be.

For this I owe thanks to many people, things, and sets of circumstances. But most of all I owe it to my own autistic nature and to my father who believed in me.

It saddens me that there are others like myself who, because their parents have come to believe this stream of negativity about their children, will never be given the same opportunity and success that I had.