Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Am I just using autism as an excuse?

Well I see that yet another autism hub blogger, neurodiversity proponent has once again gone over the top. In a blog post entitled Don't Blame Autrism(sic) here, http://chaoticidealism.livejournal.com/48892.html she seems to imply that my problems with having been fired from multiple jobs and being forced to retire at a relatively young age, never having a girlfriend when I am over 50, fine motor coordination and perceptual motor problems that greatly impair my handwriting and ability to do other perceptual motor and fine motor tasks (excluding typing though) and my irrational phobia of birds, my uncontrollable self-stimulatory movements which have precluded me from having very many friends and have even gotten me into trouble with my neighbors as well as certain law enforcement agencies are not the result of having an autistic spectrum disorder. There is some other explanation for them and I am just using my autism as an excuse. We need to look at the problem she says and try to find solutions for them and stop blaming autism. Autism is just an excuse apparently. This apparently also goes for parents of autistic kids. I presume this includes very severely autistic children who cannot speak, bang their heads into walls and elope and sometimes get run over by cars and drown. Autism is not responsible for this, it is something else and all we have to do is look at the problem and come up with some sort of solution. She takes a shot at biomed claiming this causes an addiction to biomed for parents who I guess follow DAN protocols. Though I doubt these treatments are helpful myself, I can understand why a parent would want to do them for their child, she seems to think there is something wrong with this and this does not need to be done. There is another solution someplace.

This thinking is not unique to her, it seems pretty pervasive throughout the adherents of the neurodiversity movement. Michelle Dawson seems to imply that the only reason autistics have bad outcomes is societal. If autistics were not discriminated against they would do as well as others. We also have Larry Arnold who makes analogies with a work of fiction, The Country of the Blind showing that autistics could function well if given the necessary accommodations. We have Ari Neeman and the rest of ASAN who claim they are opposed to a cure, a cure is not necessary because being anti-cure is not anti-progress. Their solution to the problem is to take umbrage at every perceived slight that happens to autistic people. Therefore the campaign against NYU's ransom notes ads and criticizing the film tropic thunder for using the word 'retard' in a non-malicious manner are somehow progress.

I posted a comment to her asking her to please be more specific. Just how can these problems be solved. Similarly to the rest of her neurodiversity colleagues she neglected to give specific answers. However, there is some very good news for persons affected by autism who feel they suffer tremendously from their or their loved one's autism. All one has to do is go to the neurodiversity forums Aspies For Freedom and Wrongplanet.net and post exactly what the specific problem is. One of the other posters there will have a solution. I can't get over what wonderful news this is for parents, who have to pay many thousands of dollars for ABA treatments, DAN protocols, special Ed attornies to pursue claims under the IDEA that they feel will help their child with autism etc. All of this great expense and effort is absolutely unnecessary. Someone in one of these two forums will have the solution as to what to do. They will post it on the internet for you free of charge. No need for any of these expensive treatments. Autism speaks can now disband, they don't need to do walks to promote fundraising. This is just wonderful news :).

It is such a shame that there was no internet, no aspies for freedom and no wrongplanet.net in the 1960s to guide my parents when they were looking so hard for a cure for me that was unnecessary. They would not have needed to pay for private special education schools, occupational therapists and expensive psychoanalysis. All they would have had to do was post on one of these two forums and one of the geniuses there would have come up for a solution to my problems for which autism was obviously not responsible for.

This sort of thinking is why I have in my motto "We Don't need no stinkin' neurodiversity". This kind of dangerous thinking is why I urge people to just say no to neurodiversity here http://www.jonathans-stories.com/non-fiction/neurodiv.html.

I still remember the outrage at Michael Savage's comments about autism not being real and 90% of autistic kids being just brats and people using their autism as an excuse to collect government benefits.

Is Chaotic Idealism's post so much different from Mr. Savage's? I don't think so. Will there be the same outrage at her comments, I wonder.


Anonymous said...

your not really a gadfly, your more like an "Archie Bunker". I guess though you'll erase this so what's the point of even commenting.

jonathan said...

The point of commenting is having something constructive to say, and answering my argument rather attacking me personally. But like a typical neurodiversity proponent you are doing neither. Like so many others you just want to attack personally because you have no other way of refuting my arguments or the indefensible positions that neurodiversity constantly promulgates.

Socrates said...

Just finished your essays. It appears your glass is half empty. You might have as much as twenty years of working life ahead of you. You can do a lot in that time. Regan was still running the country in his dotage. Just depends what support, therapy and employment is available. [So you can write: get a writing tutor, get an editor; perfect career] There are many contradictory, but not mutually exclusive elements to the Truth. You choose to look in to the shadows; I gaze out from them. Chiaroscuro Jonathan, Chiaroscuro.

jonathan said...

Hi Socrates, I seem to remember that you live somewhere in Britain and that you are unemployed and homeless? Am I mistaken about that? If not, then maybe you should start doing something for yourself before you start giving me advice.

Socrates said...

My situation qualifies me to say to you "Stop bitching and make something of what's left of your life". You've got it easy compared to me. essay tip #1: Avoid tendentious wording such as "rehash", when arguing your points. #2 Avoid sweeping generalisations: ND isn't a unified and coherent philosophy. #3 Autistics do have friends, girlfriends and families and so the presence of such does not equate to non-autistic. #4 Neither can personal hygene issues be used as a marker for ASD's.

jonathan said...

hi socrates, until you are able to help yourself and get a job and get a home, you are not in a position to give me advice about anything. If you can't use your brilliant ideas/suggestions to help yourself, you aren't in a position to give me your pearls of wisdom

Socrates said...

As you said "attack personally because you have no other way of refuting my arguments". My pearls of wisdom tell me the availability of social housing, support in education and employment and behavioural therapy are the key to almost all HFA's problems. Since you've a roof over your head and a computer, why don't you lobby your authorities for the changes that will make a difference? I do ( http://casacambs.webs.com ) Why not look for a job instead of throwing yourself on the scrap heap?

Ivar T said...

Jonathan, are you familiar with the Social Model of Disability? The one so many self advocacy organizations for disabled advocate?

I believe ChaoticIdealism is trying to convey something very similar.

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody -

Geez oh man. Before I move on, I just have to get this one comment out of my system: Soc says "Reagan was still running the country in his dotage." Yes, and wasn't THAT just fabulous and swell?

That's better. Now then.

Interesting point about social definitions of disability - remember Jonathan Swift's Laputan gentleman who was considered hopelessly disabled because he couldn't do math or play music, even though he was the country's only successful farmer? - but I don't think that's what this Jon is talking about. Oh, I could be wrong, but...

I think Jon's talking about something huge that's an enormous problem, but mostly for people our age (I'm nearly 50 myself), at least in the US where I live. Over here, we're bootstrappers. We're supposed to be able to do anything we want, all on our own, no matter what our situation may be, and if we try to explain about any circumstances that may have gotten in our way, we're told "Hey, everybody's got a sob story." (If we do this as children, we're punished, sometimes severely, for "making excuses.") In fact, in my experience, Soc. is showing admirable restraint and gentility in his/her posts. The American version goes something like this: "Phuque you, get a job, a55h0le [spit]." Compared to some of the stuff I've heard (which includes actual screamed abuse and being thrown out of parties and things like that), Soc is downright motherly.

I admit that this is only made worse by the fact that there definitely are some people around who try to excuse everything about themselves by labeling it a "syndrome" of some kind - and I live right near all of them! - but in the US, everybody is automatically suspect, especially people who seem able-bodied, like us.

But anyway.

It seems to me that one important but hideous reason why people get so incensed about autism as a disability is that when they hear that we're getting things because we're autistic that they themselves aren't getting, they become... well... envious. Gosh, they'd like subsidized housing too, but we're getting it and they're not. It looks to them like unearned, undeserved privilege, paid for by them. And it makes them simply wild. (Envy, the only sin that gives no pleasure.) And then we claim to be getting it because we're disabled, but we can't even produce a missing limb or a wheelchair or a white cane as evidence. Horrors!

So why explain what we're doing with subsidies? Because people won't stop asking!!

Why won't they stop asking if the answer upsets them so much? Well, I can only guess, being autistic and all, but my guess is that they do it because it gives them an opening to rant self-righteously about how tough they've had it and how virtuous they are for overcoming everything, especially when compared to mooching self-pitying sandbaggers like us. You never look as good as you do when you're standing next to someone bad. They want to stand next to someone bad, and a person who is getting something he doesn't deserve is pure filet of bad with bad sauce and bad on the side.

If I'm right about this, then, friends, it looks as if we're 5kr00ed. No human being on earth is so saintly that he's willing to forego a sense of his own righteous superiority.

That said, what can we do about the vile canard that autism is "just an excuse"? Not much. But:

1. We can refuse to take their bait.
Why are we getting caregivers and government housing? "That's just how it turned out."
What's wrong with us? "I'm not a medic, so I'm not really sure."
What makes us think we deserve free benefits? "I'm not exactly clear on it; I think I've got some papers and stuff about it somewhere if you want to see them."

2. We can evade the "excuse" issue entirely.
Why don't we have a job at our age? "Ask all the people who won't hire me! Maybe they'll tell you, because they sure won't tell me!"
Why haven't we made more of ourselves? "More than what?" (If that doesn't convince them you're autistic...!)
Why do we think we deserve so much free stuff? "I can't figure it out either."
Why won't we roll up our sleeves and try harder the way everybody else has to? "I think I must be doing it wrong or something."

3. We can refuse to give them their piece of candy.
I've had it just as tough as you and I'm not lying around in a free house living on handouts. "Do you want to?" (Isn't that a good question, BTW?)
I haven't had the luxury of making excuses and whining about my situation; I had to go out and work for a living. "How interesting; what do you do?"
So you're autistic? Well, I'm alcoholic/a victim of sexual abuse/a divorced parent/battered/estranged from my family/having a bad-hair day, but I never expected anything from anyone. "Well, isn't that nice that you're so independent. More coffee?"

4. We can use My Personal Favorite Gambit In The Whole Universe.
You've got it made, but I never had anybody to give me anything; I had to do it all on my own. "Let's play a game. Let's pretend that you can choose to be given exactly what I've got, exactly as much as I've got. All you have to do is ask, and you've got it. Now: Would you do it? And what would you do after you made the choice?" (How this works: If they would choose to be given what you have, it exposes them as the envious 5|-|i7s they are, because they're saying that it's only wrong to have it if YOU have it instead of THEM having it. If they wouldn't choose to have it, you can then look pensive and say "Huh. Neither would I, if I could choose." And then just let them think about that for a while. As for what they'd do after they made the choice, that can go any way and should be edifying for both of you no matter what happens.

Whew. This is why I hardly ever blog.

By the way, I take no responsibility for the fact that English doesn't have a decent gender-neutral pronoun, and it's nearly impossible to edit one's own work effectively. With these caveats, I happen to be a very good copy editor if anybody needs one (thanks Soc you big huggable old softy!). My brother has suggested that I offer my services as a copy editor to bloggers, which is probably a good idea and I'm happy to do it, but I'm not sure of the best way to offer the service. If anyone has any suggestions I'm happy to hear them.

Off to soak my tired typing fingers...