Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Again the question of neurodiversity and "human rights"

When I first began writing this blog, I gave a response to an angry rant by one Michelle Dawson claiming that because I was opposed to neurodiversity-the idea that autism is a disorder and not a normal genetic variation or an alternative form of brain wiring-that I'm opposed to the idea of "human rights" for autistic people.

Recently this phony baloney strawman issue has come to the fore again. This was in response to an article written by a young woman on the autism spectrum who writes under the pen name of Gwendolyn Kansen.  This article got a fair amount of traction on twitter and Facebook and recently appeared high in the google news search under "autism".  Because Ms. Kansen's article made somewhat of an impact, some people in ND felt they should attack her.  Though I don't agree with all of Ms. Kansen's article, she does make a few valid points.  She gives a lot of examples of how autism can be extremely disabling and an intrinsic disorder, rather than something that can be accommodated for by society and cease to be disabling.  For this reason, some individual in the neurodiversity movement who refuses to even sign an internet stage name has tried to refute Kansen's point, by repeatedly stating that this only means she opposes "human rights".

I believe that all people (not just autistic people) have the right not to be discriminated against and treated with dignity.  This does not mean that the American's with Disabilities act give those on the autism spectrum the right to behave however they please on a job, despite what Ari Ne'eman has stated about "social architecture" and overlooking social unpleasantries in the workplace.

In the case of McElwee the federal court of appeals ruled that overlooking autism when the individual who behaves badly on the job and makes untoward advances to women is not a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.  Nor can someone just ask for understanding on the job and expect to be accommodated when they are ill-suited for the profession.

In the case of wandering, it is not a violation of an individuals rights to protect them from drowning or being run over by a car as various members of the neurodiversity movement have suggested.  Parents have a right to place their child under a conservatorship if they can't take care of themselves.  It would be a violation of their right to be alive if they were not protected from wandering in spite of Neurodiversity's unsuccessful attempt to eliminate the wandering codes some years ago.

I do agree that children have the right not be shocked at the Judge Rottenberg center though I suppose it's still legal in that state, though illegal in california where I live to do that.  Hopefully the FDA or state legislatures elsewhere will take care of that.

Though I can't argue about the strawman the author repeatedly says of Gwen Kansen (and others myself included) wanting to deliberately violate the rights of autistic people, let's examine some of the points they make.

Because Kansen and others point out that many autistic people have IQ's below 70, she does not mean that they don't have human rights, only that neurodiversity is violating their right, by speaking for them on the subject of a cure or other autism-related issues when they are ill-suited to do so due to having an intellectual disability.  So if anyone is the human rights abusers it's ND.

When Kansen writes about experiences she had with a bad boyfriend, she is not saying she is opposed to human rights, but only that autism has issues that are intrinsic to itself that can't be accommodated for.

The police did not have the right to "summarily execute" Kayden Clarke, but if he really did try to attack them with a knife, they did have a right to shoot him to save their own lives.  If this is what really happened, then it's not a "human rights" violation as the author states.

Kansen also points out the case of Sky Walker, who was so severely disabled by his autism, he killed his own mother, but then the author of the rebutting article just turns this around and mentions the red herring of the disabilities mourning list of all the autistic people who were killed by others stating that she and I are opposed to autistics having the right not to be killed by their caretakers.  Only a member of the ND movement would be capable of this sort of sophistry.

I won't go into the other specific points, but this article again sums it up linking to another article stating that all of these problems autistics have could be solved if they are accommodated for and their "human rights" were not violated.  I'm still waiting for the neurodiversity movement to be more specific about how i'm opposed to human rights, or more importantly to state how and why autistics could be accommodated for and how this would solve all of the problems and challenges that autistics have, as Ari Ne'eman, and other members of ND, including someone the author links to in their articles states that autism is only a disability because it has not been properly accommodated for and it would cease to be a disabling condition if this would happen.

However, what about my human rights.  Do I have the right not to be called all manner of names like "asshole", "butt wipe"  "turdball" because I disagree with them publicly.  Do I have the right not to have them write libelous statements about me, make fun of my disability and state that I would choose to have this handicap because all or most autistics want to remain autistic.  Or stating that I'm like a jew who sympathized with the nazis during the holocaust.  Or calling my mother bad names or stating that she's a threat to the autism community as one individual commented on Newsweek's site after they published an article profiling me.   

Before neurodiversity uses the strawman of "human rights" again, I feel they should do a better job of respecting mine.  

8 comments:

Roger Kulp said...

Am I interpreting what Kansen says here,by thinking Kansen says that wanting to be cured of autism,or intellectual disability,could be considered a "human right"?If she is,it's a very different definition of neurodiversity than I have ever seen before.

jonathan said...

Roger, I don't think that's what she's saying, you'd have to both read her article and the rebuttal and then ask her I guess. She's on twitter and has a twitter account you can tweet to if you're on twitter.

Gwendolyn Kansen said...

Why sure! I think I have as much of a right to be cured as other people do to not be cured. There's an interesting human rights argument to be made on both sides. Unfortunately, no one I've seen hating on my article has made it yet.

Who gets to make decisions for people who can't make them for themselves? If parents could cure their children, it would happen before the kids had a chance to think about it. But then we'd have to consider the parents' rights too.

And how much should the economic costs of autism factor into this discussion?

I don't think this is a black-and-white thing. I believe the research that shows autistic people's relatives (and sometimes autistic people) are capable of great mathematical genius. I think it's beneficial to somebody that autism is in the genepool. Unfortunately, that's not usually autistic people ourselves.

I also wish neurodiversity advocates would at least acknowledge the nasty psychotic symptoms associated with autism in a way that's more substantial than "some neurotypicals do that too."

In all fairness though, most of them do seem to be pro-treatment.

HL Doherty said...

jonathan you mention Michelle Dawson's angry rant. Michelle Dawson did in a legal proceeding under the Canadian Human Rights Act testify that autism is a disability. One of the problems with autism "self advocates" ideology is that they accept the medical diagnosis of autism disorder, embrace the label 'autism' but refuse to call it a disorder and claim it is a gift or simply a different way of thinking. They seldom reconcile this basic fundamental contradiction in their positions.

In her human rights proceeding Michelle Dawson did actually testify that autism is a neurologicial disability one accompanied by self injury.

In Dawson v. Canada Post Corporation, 2008 CHRT 41 (CanLII) Ms Dawson brought a complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act against her former employer Canada Post alleging that Canada Post had discriminated against her and harassed her on the basis of her autism disability contrary to the provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Human Rights Tribunal found that she had substantiated most of her claims and found that Canada Post had contravened sections 7 and 14 of the Act.

A complaint pursuant to the Canadian Human Rights Act is brought under one of the grounds listed in section 3 of the Act. The Tribunal decision listed the grounds as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.

In Ms Dawson's case she alleged discrimination, harassment and retaliation against her by Canada Post on the basis of disability ... autism ... as set out in several paragraphs of the CHRT decsions:

” [2] In her complaint, dated August 9, 2002, Ms. Dawson alleges that the Respondent discriminated against her on the basis of disability, in breach of section 7 of the Canadian Human Rights Act in that it failed to accommodate her disability (autism).
[86] Ms. Dawson testified that autism is a neurological disability and that people generally do not have a good understanding of this reality.

…………

[90] Ms. Dawson testified that autistic persons compared to non autistic people process information very differently, at a very basic profound level, really low level.

[95] In her testimony, Ms. Dawson also referred to people with Down Syndrome. She testified that Down Syndrome is in the same classification as autism. They are both developmental disorders or neuro-developmental disabilities. “

Yuval Levental said...

This also makes me wonder if neurodiversity has the right to claim that autism (especially higher-functioning forms) is not a disease. Problem is, there are limitless sources and figures claiming this, but then this would imply that a person with autism would not need disability services, which could be dangerous. Also diagnosing noted historical figures with autism could imply this view.

I suppose that trying to ban neurodiversity would be a violation of the freedom of speech however, so we just have to beat them at their own game.

jonathan said...

@yuval, of course one argument that neurodiversity proponents make is that they need disability services because they are disabled by society. There's really no way we can ban someone's ideology and they do have a right to freedom of speech, though I vehemently oppose what they have to say.

I've been trying to beat them at their own game for years, but i've certainly had an uphill battle.

Anonymous said...

Dear All, "Butt wipe" seems like a strange epithet--for someone who, decades ago, heard an equally earthy, but positive expression, from, I think, Zen Buddhism--Someone asked the leader, or teacher or whomever, "What is the Buddha nature?" The reply came, "It is a sh*t-wiping stick."just what a person needs, when they go to the latrine, along with plenty of water to wash with, AND tissue. But, scatology aside, this was a good point, regarding SOME of the Neurodiversity people--they can't see past their own ideology, and they'll call you, Jonathan, and all the others, who couldn't "take there Autism by the horns, look it straight in the face, and make it play ball", liars. At least there is a possibility that some people from each camp, as it were, are talking, and moreover, LISTENING to each other. I know that last part isn't easy--at least it's a start.

Dang Pal said...

Autistic rights claim that their disabled because its society fault. Even if society change their attitude and give them accommodation, their disability would remain with them.

They also oppose treatments & therapy that would reduce the suffering on the autistic person and claims that giving autistic people treatment is violating human rights.