I was interested to read a post on Harold Doherty's blog about an article in the Michigan Daily written about neurodiversity activist and ASAN member Melanie Yergeau.
The article in question starts off with the very offensive title Autism as an identity, not a disease.
It starts off with the usual neurodiverse spiel that all the stuff about autism being a bad thing is wrong. Ms. Yergeau is a college English professor. Also mentioned is the fact Ms. Yergeau is married. Though the article alleges that she was in special education programs during her childhood, for some reason, she wasn't diagnosed with autism until age 22. What her diagnosis was as a child I'm not sure.
In the article, the autistic English professor alleges that during the time she was in college, she was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. The article neglects to give even an alleged reason for professor Yergeau's commitment. I'm pretty sure that in most jurisdictions involuntary commitment can only be done without due process for a period of a few days. Legally, it can only be done if there is medical evidence that the individual in question poses a danger to themselves or others. I'm curious to what the reason was for her incarceration. A link is given to a blog post she wrote on this subject. Interestingly, it appears to have been deleted for some reason. Elyse Bruce, author of the Midnight in Chicago blog, recently wrote a post on the subject of Melanie's psych hold in which she too seems to question the credibility of Yergeau's statements. Apparently a number of MY's allies seemed to have been alleging the only reason for her hold was autism and not her being a danger to herself or others. As Ms. Bruce correctly points out, mental health professionals who violate this law and place holds on people for trivial reasons can be subject to losing their licenses or accreditation or opening themselves up to lawsuits. So, I have to wonder about the validity of anything Ms. Yergeau says. I guess the reason for her alleged hold will remain a mystery for the time being.
In addition to stating that autism is not an illness but an alternative way of being, she makes the following statement culled from the article:
To the members of ASAN, atypical neurological difference ought to be
embraced and celebrated. Society needs to change, rather than the
individuals, the members say. Having autism is a difference, to be sure,
but it’s not inferior to any other notion of mental development, no
less valued than the color of one’s skin or one’s sex.
So, in other words, Ms. Yergeau thinks it's a good thing that I'm crippled and sick, that I can't work, can't get things done during the day and have to spend a good portion of my time twiddling (self-stimulation). She takes joy in my fine motor and handwriting impairment and my lack of social contacts and celibacy. She takes joy in my suffering as a bedwetter as a child, in my attendance of special ed schools and all of the suffering that's occurred in my life.
However, I have it good compared to most of those on the spectrum. Ms. Yergeau goes even further in celebrating and taking joy in the fact that possibly a third or more of all autistics may be almost completely nonverbal. The fact that severely autistic children bite themselves and bang their heads into walls. Not to mention the problems with elopements and accidental deaths that occur from drowning and other causes.
Despite this fact, Yergeau has taken upon herself to speak for all of us:
Autistic people don’t consider autism to be a disease. So why should the rest of the world?
So, all autistic people don't consider autism to be a disease? Ms. Yergeau, if you happen to read this, why didn't you consult me? As an autistic person, I certainly disagree. I very much consider autism to be a disease.
About the only good thing I can say about this article is it does not repeat the oft cited dictum that the definition of neurodiversity is the pursuit of human rights for those on the autistic spectrum and that those of us who wish a cure and oppose neurodiversity are trying to violate the autistic's human rights. I'm thankful the author gives a more honest approach and correctly states that neurodiversity is more about claiming autism is just a different way of being rather than a disease, illness or even disability as Ari Ne'eman once said.
However, what about my human rights? What about my right to have my own opinion and not having someone with the low credibility that Ms. Yergeau has put words in my mouth. What about my right to obtain a cure if one is available? What about my right to publicly express my opinion and not have these hate mongers harass me or write libelous things about me? What about my right not to have persons, like Yergenau, who are so mildly affected they can get married and be college professors trivialize my disability as well as others even more severely afflicted than I am?
Ms. Yergeau, you're violating my human rights as well as at least some other persons on the autism spectrum and I don't like it.