I see that one of my favorite autism writers is at it again, trivializing the fact that some children on the autism spectrum engage in self-injury and are incontinent. In this article, Steve Silberman was asked about one blogger who criticized his book, because he left out any descriptions of autistics who were "head-bangers" and "diaper-wearers"If the Forbes magazine reporter is not misquoting him he states:
“Is this really how we want to describe our fellow human beings, no
matter how many serious challenges they have in daily life? If we live
long enough, we all become ‘diaper wearers’ eventually,” Silberman said.
“Disability is a part of the human experience.”
Since Silberman seems to take umbrage to the words "head-bangers" and "diaper-wearers", i'll refrain from using those terms and just make the more polite factual statements that there are persons on the autism spectrum who self-mutilate themselves and who are incontinent. I don't know if Leo Rosa and Mark Rimland, apparently the only more severe cases of autism that Silberman has ever encountered, engage in self-injury or are incontinent, but there are in fact some autistic people for whom this is a fact of life. Though I have no recollection of this, I was told by my parents that as a toddler I'd sometimes bang my head into a wall out of frustration. Though I don't do this now, I think this was before the age of five and I have no memory of this.
Most persons with an interest in autism have not been involved in it as long as I have, so they have no memory of when Ivar Lovaas and his disciples would give powerful electric shocks to children who did this and justify it, by saying that they were saving the kids from chewing their fingers off or banging their head into a wall so hard that they would receive serious injuries and stating that kids who had to experience the discomfort of wearing a straight jacket could have the freedom from the restraint. Mr. Silberman, I know you did research on Lovaas and wrote of the historical shameful period when aversives were used, so you should know better. Some children need to be in helmets so they won't get injured banging their heads into walls. But I suppose Silberman and the rest of the neurodiversity crowd would just argue this is a reasonable accommodation so the head banger is just fine as long as he/she wears a helmet. I wonder if this does not interfere with their sleep or how they'll shower and shampoo so they don't get lice or something in their hair because the parents/caretaker does not dare take the helmet off for fear that the child will get a serious injury.
While it's true, we all have to wear diapers as infants and early toddlers, there are plenty of people who never have to wear diapers after this, no matter how old they are, like my paternal grandmother who lived to 105.
I don't know how disability has ever been a part of Silberman's human experience, unless he believes that his homosexuality was some sort of social disability prior to 1974 before the american psychiatric association removed it from the DSM when he was seventeen.
Mr. Silberman, if you ever happen to read this, I just want to say if the reporter was not misquoting you, shame on you for saying this, Shame on you for trivializing this horrible disability you have no experience with. I know in the past you told me to be careful of what I write as you did not name drop Zuckerman and Gates as autistic and that was mere speculation of a reporter that was interviewing, and I've done my best to heed your warning, but it sure looks to me like the reporter was asking you this and quoting you directly.
It's bad enough that you've stated that the reason autistics can't work is that human resource offices aren't used to nonverbal people and won't give them a communication device, that autism versus neurotypicality is no different from a windows versus linux operating system, and the fact that you've stated mark rimland does not need a cure for his autism because of the love and acceptance of the community he lives in. However, now, in my esteemed opinion, you've hit an all-time low and I just want to tell you I feel this statement of yours is absolutely despicable if the reporter was not misquoting you and you should be ashamed of yourself. This is another reason why everyone should boycott your book or any other book you write in the future in spite of the reporter saying we should buy it. shame on you! Soapbox rant off.