Tuesday, March 13, 2018

book publisher stands up to neurodiversity bullies

The neurodiversity movement is well-known for their hardball tactics.  The latest item in their metaphorical Felix the Cat bag of dirty tricks is to harass parents who write and publish books that  depict autism in what they feel is a less than flattering light.  They also contact publishers of the books urging  the book be recalled and possibly threaten the publishers with legal action. 

They recently did this with Judith Newman's "To Siri with Love" when the author expressed the idea she might want to obtain a conservatorship of her son, so she could have him undergo a vasectomy because she did not feel he could be a good father to children.  People wrote to her publisher protesting the book, she received abuse and fuck yous on twitter and she alleges she even received a death threat.  A few ND's even started a petition to have her son taken away from her, but then backed down.  

There's a new book slated for publication "Autism Uncensored" by author Whitney Ellenby who depicts the angst of raising a severely autistic child.  Several ND's apparently wrote John Koehler, the publisher, urging him not to publish the book, apparently they also threatened him with some sort of legal action, but the details are unclear.  He has responded to the ND bullies.

I was every bit as offended by Steve Silberman and "Neurotribes" as these people are about Ms. Ellenby and "autism uncensored", but I did not threaten Silberman.  I did not write to his publisher urging them not to publish or recall the book.  I read the book cover to cover before judging it and then giving it the one star review it deserved on Amazon.

The ND's have taken umbrage to Koehler's statement that their actions make them appear less than intelligent and Silberman (him again) has been a provocateur on twitter, trying to incite the ND's, and we're sure to see fireworks:

Gadfly commends Mr. Koehler for his decision not to back down and to respond to the ND bullies the way he did. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Stand up comedy: A lighter side of autism's gadfly

For the past ten years since I've been writing this blog, I've been a staunch (and sometimes angry)critic of all the things I don't like in the autism world (and maybe even a few things outside the autism world.) There's a reason I named this blog "autism's gadfly". I've been critical of special education(which I spent eight miserable years in), Behavioral therapy (better known by its more modern moniker, ABA), the anti-vaxxers, and most of all the neurodiversity movement. As I said on my Stories website, I have something to piss everybody off.

Some people, John Elder Robison, most prominent among them, have criticized my anger and my negativity, stating I should devote more time to positive pursuits rather than spreading negativity. I've recently taken their advice and I'm now pursuing a new hobby, stand-up comedy. I've been taking a class in standup and two nights ago I reached a milestone at age 62 of performing my first open mike at a club. I was nervous and pretty sure I'd bomb before I went on. However, the performance went a lot better than I thought and I got some laughs and positive feedback from the small audience. I hope to do more open mikes in the future and I might publicize where i'm appearing on Facebook and Twitter.

I realize I'm not unique in being an autistic standup comedian. On perusal of the internet, I've discovered Byron Filler, Scott Vasquez, and Kevin Lucas. Better known than they are is the infamous Noah Britton and his Troupe Asperger's 'R' us. My short act includes humor about celibacy, The Good Doctor, celebrity diagnosis, my lack of success in writing, and that sick joke in the autism world, Autism Speaks. I haven't come up with any really good barbs about the neurodiversity movement, but I hope to do so someday as I still feel they are another joke in the autism world that's in poor taste.

My disability has made my life difficult. Humor can ease the pain of adversity, and might be useful as a Freudian-style defense mechanism. It's no coincidence that many comics have suffered from depression, Robin Williams probably the most well known of those. In my life, I may have made the mistake of taking a lot of my issues too seriously. I'm still not happy about autism or being autistic. However, I'm stuck with it and nothing I can do about it. Very late in life, I realize that sometimes you have to have a sense of humor about things.

I've had a multitude of interests: Poker, computers, writing, brain science, and, of course, autism. I tried to become a brain scientist or experimental psychologist many years ago, but failed to do well enough in college to get into graduate school. I took courses in computer programming, but was never good enough to do it professionally, and lost interest after a while. I've written some articles and books, both fiction and nonfiction, but was never able to get anywhere with my writing and have not been doing as much lately. I've lost a fair amount of money at poker, but it helped inspire my self-published novel, "The Mu Rhythm Bluff." Therefore, this standup thing may turn out to be another lark, and I may soon lose interest in it. However, it's good to have new hobbies and pursue shit and not put all your eggs in one basket.

Some people have asked me about videos or seeing a performance. I hope to eventually have some videos up someplace. I also may publicize where I perform at some point and people who are in the Los Angeles area or close by might get to see me live. We'll see what happens with this new endeavor and I may or may not keep people posted about it on this blog and social media.