Over a week ago, Steve Silberman, author of "neurotribes", wrote an op-ed piece which was published by several newspapers including the Los Angeles Times. I wrote a response that was not printed:
To the Los Angeles times:
As a man on the autism spectrum, I must take issue with Steve
Silberman’s op-ed piece. The type of funding that he suggests will do
nothing to help autistic people. It is not a disability that can be
accommodated through education or other means. There is no way that
research dollars will be able to help with employment issues.
Though science may provide no short-term answers, I believe in the long
term that funding of scientific research will someday lead to viable
treatments and possibly a cure, so I hope it can continue.
Mr. Silberman makes numerous factual errors in his article. Though he
stated no autistic persons have served on autism speaks boards, John
Elder Robison was on the scientific advisory board. He is a high school
dropout with no qualifications or knowledge in the field of autism
science. His appointment was only to quell all the noisy people who
insist that autistic people must be on the boards of autism
organizations in spite of lack of qualifications.
Suzanne Wright never referred to their grandson as being missing. The
missing slogan only referred to missing knowledge of the genetic
etiology of autism.
Silberman has only spoken to autistic
people on the mildest end of the spectrum and has completely ignored
people who are nonverbal, wear diapers in adulthood and self-mutilate.
It’s shameful that the times would print the op-ed piece by this man
whose forthcoming book will undoubtedly trivialize this horrible
Jonathan Mitchell, Los Angeles, California
One point of correction, I sent them this email before Silberman's book came out and I read it. He did spend time with Leo Rosa, Shannon Des Roches Rosa's son, who is at the lower end of the spectrum so I suppose the statement he only spent time with higher functioning autistics might not have been completely accurate. But most of the people Silberman has spent time with were on the highest end of the spectrum.