Saturday, May 23, 2009

Left Brain/Right Brain: tries again

Most of us have heard the old saw if at first you don't succeed, well try try again. That seems to be what the well-known autism blog Left Brain/Right Brain is doing. After a very lame attempt on the part of the main author of the blog, Kevin Leitch, to justify the absurdity known as "neurodiversity", we see that his partner, someone who calls themselves "Sullivan", is trying to help save face. Like Leitch, Sullivan, also falls flat on his/her face in trying to justify this movement which has claims that autism is not a disorder or disease but just a different way of being.

Sullivan starts out with the copout argument that neurodiverse just means different types of thinking and different types of brains. Sullivan starts out with the obvious that no two brains are exactly alike. Then goes on to try to distinguish this idea from being neurodiverse to the movement known as neurodiversity.

He then states the tired cliche of so many involved in this movement that there is no set definition of neurodiversity and no organization. The first part of the statement may be true, there may not be any set definition of neurodiversity and different people have different takes, but there are some commonalities, like claiming a cure for autism would be bad and that the efforts of autism speaks and other similar organizations are thinly veiled attempts at eugenics. There are a number of organizations that subscribe to this philosophy such as GRASP and ASAN, though there may not be one organization. One of my readers, Marius Filipis (sp??), put it well: that pretending that it does not exist fools no one and that even though there may not be one brand of communism you can have Marxists and Maoists who may not agree on everything but have some underlying similarities.

Sullivan then goes on to make this galling and outright hypocritical statement:

And, just as we need to respect each other even though we come from diverse gender, racial, ethnic, cultural, and other backgrounds, we need to respect each other even though we think in different ways.
That’s not so hard a concept, is it

Since when have neurodiversitites treated anyone with respect. They have cussed me out calling me "mitchell-shite", called me Joseph Goebels, insulted my mother calling her domineering and a witch. They have blamed Katie Mccaron's murder on those of us who want a cure. Ari Nee'man, now ND's very young but high profile spokesperson has not been above the fray stating that autism speaks was somehow morally complicit with McCarron's murder due to a temporal relationship between Allison Tepper-Singer's melodramatic statements about sometimes wishing she could drive off a bridge with her daughter and the murder of 4-year-old mcccarron by her obviously deranged mother. My friend brain researcher Matthew Belmonte has received emails from ND's calling him a nazi. When I had insults hurled at me out of the clear blue sky in the comments section of the whose planet is it anyway blog and I just did not feel like turning the other cheek that day, I was somehow accused of provoking this fight in order to deliberately generate traffic to my blog! There have been other episodes of rudeness and condescension towards me from other NDs. No, ND's who are respectful are the exception and not the rule.

Sullivan continues with the old ND canard of criticising those of us who oppose the ND movement because someplace along the line we got the idea that they were saying autism is not really a disability when they mean nothing of the kind.

Perhaps we did get this idea from someplace and that was from the originator of the term neurodiversity Judith Singer.

Ms. Singer states on her website:

Coming from this multi-layered background I want to encourage the development of new 'ways of seeing" that depathologise AS as much as possible, which is why I pioneered the idea that AS should be seen as a neurological minority rather than as a "disability". But I have now come to the conclusion that balance requires us to acknowledge that that not all is for the best in this brave new world that the "neuroscience revolution" delineates.

So yes, the originator of the term did see at least some forms of autism as not being a disability and perhaps that is where we got this idea that current ND proponents are claiming are a strawman.

Sullivan then goes on to say that neurodiversity is about "human rights", another weary cliche. Those of us who want a cure for autism are certainly in favor of human rights and dignity for autistics. Many of us do realize that in spite of our desire, a cure for autism will probably not be in the cards in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, i think most "curebies" want to accommodate persons with autistics, help them in any way we can, though it is my personal belief that these options are quite limited. The desire for help and accommodations and the desire to fund a cure should not be mutually exclusive.

How about the right not to be abused when we are trying to surf the web in peace? How about the right for an autistic child to be treated or even cured when these options become available? How about the right to do the research in neuroscience and genetics so these options will become available as soon as possible? It seems to me if anyone is violating the human rights of those of us involved in autism it is people on the ND side.

I suppose another of the LB/RB's team of authors will make another excuse for neurodiversity. Well if at first you don't succeed.......... well you know the rest.


jypsy said...

"Since when have neurodiversitites treated anyone with respect."Do I not treat you with respect?

jonathan said...

Usually, yes, always no. In the past you have taken cheap shots at things I said several years ago and also accused me of deliberately provoking a fight where it was the NDs who were the aggressors and you made the allegation that I was deliberately doing this to generate traffic to my blog and I found that very insulting. I don't consider that treating someone with respect. Ms. Bain.

jypsy said...

"you made the allegation that I was deliberately doing this to generate traffic to my blog"No, I don't believe this allegation. That is something I would never say, I believe you must have me mixed up with someone else. Without proof I'll have to say you are mistaken. Please provide a quote and/or link. I deny ever having said that and if you prove me wrong you'll get a very humble apology from me. If you can't back that up please retract your statement.

I also don't "take cheap shots", if you took any of my comments that way I'm sorry, that was not how they were intended.

jypsy said...

Mr. Mitchell,

You misrepresented what I said. Here is our conversation:

You said:
"As far as you and jypsy’s one-sided presentation of the arguments I got into on ABFH’s blog, I will just say this: They are the one’s who started it by being abusive and insulting to me and calling my mother a witch and calling me a traitor and other abusive comments. They were the aggressors. Perhaps I should have taken the high road and turned the other cheek and not responded in kind and I now have some regret for stooping to the level of those who were attacking me. but sometimes turning the other cheek is hard to do when I am constantly being abused by you and others in the ND movement. I am not going to comment on all of the other mistruths and misrepresentations that you and the rest of the people here are saying.

However, I would like to thank you and all the others for the increased traffic you have helped to generate to my blog."

(Emphasis added by me)

I replied:
"As far as you and jypsy’s one-sided presentation of the arguments I got into on ABFH’s blog”

You brought up institutionalization here and there and were asked about it here, I merely pointed to your opinions stated elsewhere and gave a link so people were free to read the whole ugly mess (and made it clear the ugliness was not being done by a single person). Please explain how it was a “one-sided presentation of the arguments I got into on ABFH’s blog”.

I hope your comments over there aren’t just an effort to generate traffic to your blog. I have found since I posted that the comments there were “ugly”, yours have slipped to something even darker than that. This is no spin and I acknowledge that you were provoked, still you did write those words, they did come from you. Likewise, the other commenters there are responsible for their words and actions. It’s all very, very, sad."

To say that *I* "made the allegation that I was deliberately doing this to generate traffic to my blog" is false. *YOU* made that statement, thanking me and others for your increased traffic!! I said "I hope your comments over there aren’t just an effort to generate traffic to your blog." and I truly meant it.

The full conversation is at

Jake Crosby said...

Camille Clark called me "the clown blog's new friend," Kathleen Seidel called me a "callow youth" and being used as "ideological cannon-fodder," Kevin Leitch called me a "bitch boy" and accused me of writing a hit piece on Ari Ne'eman when I was only asking Newsweek for equal representation, and Phil Gluyas called me an "idiot" and said I was "brought up to hate" myself. These people have no argument, all they have are personal attacks; even before taking them on directly I knew this would be the case and sure enough I was right.

jonathan said...

Jypsy I see you managed to find what you said that I was alluding to. I have printed out your comment and anyone reading this can judge for themselves. There was definitely the intimation that there was any possibility at all that I was being intentionally nasty to people in order to deliberately generate traffic to my blog offensive. It was rude and disrespectful on your part and you know it, no matter how much phoney baloney spin you want to put on it. It was you who brought my name out of the clear blue sky completely off topic on that comment thread in left brain/right brain. It was clay adams and other people who brought my name out of the clear blue sky and started being abusive to me on the comment thread of the whose planet is it blog. I believe you should apologize to me for this, but I don't expect you to, as you can never seem to admit you are wrong about anything. The comment you made which I have printed out was definitely rude and disrespectful and I took great offense to it. Offense is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

I did not react in anger to your rude comment. I took the high road and ignored it. In this post I am attempting to do the same, not responding in anger to your complete refusal to admit the comment was disrespectful and totally out of line. You challenged me for any example at all of how you were ever disrespectful to me. I met your challenge this example clearly shows that you were.

Unless you apologize to me and you admit you were wrong to intimate that there was any possibility at all that I deliberately was nasty to people to generate traffic to my blog which is utterly absurd I am not going to discuss the matter with you further. Have a nice day/night.

Marius Filip said...


My name is Filip (pronounced as in Philip).

To add to the picture one of the insults coming from the ND yard, one guy tried to put this comment on my blog (where I describe the progress of my son and the efforts I do to enable him to function as well as possible):

"Idiot! No wonder children are treated so badly in your country."A double insult: personally to me and to my nation which went through the tribulations of communism (OBS: the horrors of that regime included indeed terrible conditions in orphanages and the enforced production of babies. I must state clearly that the things have changed tremendously in the past 20 years of democracy).

Obviously, I filtered the comment out.

jonathan said...

thanks, Marius I will try very hard to remember the correct spelling of your full name from now on.

Jake Crosby said...

I agree Jonathan, all these people do is goal-shift. They are not worth taking seriously and yet the media buys into them all the time.

Anonymous said...

The irony is that if you look at posts from places like, you'll see people who post dumb topics like, "Why do I never notice my Asperger traits?"
Then as you read the post, you'll see he answered his own question.

You'd think if this guy was so insecure about himself, he'd be able to come up with a solution or two, but like me, he'll never know what to do since he'll remain stuck for a huge portion of his life asking other ASD individuals online questions that they themselves cannot help him with due to their own impairments and inability to know this guy well enough face-to-face.

I also love it how the oldest adult male at the Asperger's support group, which is an oxymoron, gets to assist the facilitator despite the fact he's so slow to help run things smoothly with things like making sure every person in the group gets enough slices of pizza (like that's such a challenge), and that we all are allowed to stand up in a line to grab a second, third (sometimes) or even a fourth slice (rarely) only when he gets to have at least two slices of pizza. He had to recount the remaining slices of pizza available like three times at one point. Then you've got a couple others asking why we have to have a slice of pizza one at a time like it's such a hard concept to figure out, so it's no wonder why no one thinks about the reasons as to why ASDs are serious disorders.

The same type of people who lack this kind of common sense are the ones who see autism as a beautiful and unique way of being and living.

Minority said...

I think they are trying to muddy the waters. And backtrack a bit. Some of the positions various people have taken are very extreme, some truly nasty comments have been spread around. To sum up, neurodiversity is trying to become respectable.

In addition, the scientific evidence is piling up that some cases of autism are clearly the result of environmental factors and that some kids with autism are obviously physically ill. Another reason to try to sort of gently wipe out bits of the past...

Marius Filip said...

I finally took the time to read the initial post of Mr. Leitch. This fragment intrigued me:

"You see our error as trying to prevent your child being treated. My own daughter receives PECS and Speech Therapy. I would not stand in any parents way who wanted to alleviate the suffering of their kids. Having terrible constipation is suffering. Having a different kind of thought process is not." (emphasis is mine)

The fragment above is utterly false. A "different" kind of thought process IS suffering.

Although autism is not the same as schizophrenia, I use it as an example. Schizophrenia, which is characterized, among other things, as a distorted way of thinking, IS suffering.

The schizophrenic sees or hear things, he has obsessions, he may hurt himself or others while being haunted by the turmoil in his mind.

I want to state clearly that autism is NOT schizophrenia, because it is not as chaotic as the last one.

Yet, the autistic person may suffer for a seriously distorted vision of the world. Even Temple Grandin testifies for it.

Seeing distorted writing, not being able to evaluate spatial depth well, hearing noises louder than they are, taking the meaning of words otherwise than they are, having various phobias (my son has just gotten a fear of dogs, birds and some kind of rolling stairs in shopping malls) all these form a distorted view of the world which vary greatly from one autistic person to another.

How can all these distortions NOT produce suffering? It's like living in a world you cannot make sense of or terribly fear.

If the "different" thought processes do not produce suffering, then why are the Asperger's folks more prone to depression in their teens, why the temper tantrums and why the head banging (which the ND folks pretend are attempts to communicate) which occur in so many autistics?

I call this suffering. Autism DOES produce suffering. The "different" thought processes DO produce suffering.

It's not just a difference like being black versus white or being Chinese versus Tanzanian or being an introvert versus an extrovert.

It is the difference between being ill and being healthy.

Marius Filip said...

I've read the article. There are two questions in there:

"The question is, if life is made easier for you because of your neurology, does that make you “normal”? More importantly, if your neurology makes your life easier, doesn’t that give you the responsibility to help out those who may need a hand?"

Well, my answer to both questions is YES.

Indeed, the fact that life is easier for neurotypicals makes them the norm.


What is normal is not decided by me, by LB/RB or by any human alive today. It has been decided during the 100s of thousands of years of evolution of the human race. If having obsessive interests a la Asperger's had given an evolutionary advantage, then Aspergian obsessions would have been the norm for humans.

But they were not and they are not.

An Asperger's guy asked me once: "If we had been in majority, what would you have done?". I replied "then you would have been normal and I would have been ill and have to adjust".

Amanda Baggs in one of her videos draws a parallel between color acuity and sound acuity. She claims to have both, while most humans lack the latter. So, she claims, this is "diversity" and her perfect pitch (which is found in autistics with a much higher rate than in neurotypicals) is an "advantage".

No. This is a useless sensitivity that she has from her autism. Color sensitivity is a trait that was crucial to the human race to survive. Sound sensitivity was not.

So, "easier life" DOES define the norm because "easier life" was EXACTLY the mechanism that shaped the human race by natural selection throughout the whole evolutionary process.

Not everything that is different is diversity. A person born with one kidney does not form diversity with another born with two kidneys.

The guy with two kidneys is normal, the guy with one kidney is ill - but still functioning.

The same with autism, although autism impairs completely different areas of human functioning.

What I agree with, though, is that the society must do MORE for autistics and for disabled people in general.

That's why I respond YES to the second question as well.

Ender said...

Marius, Jonathan never let me ask you this, but I figured I would try to do it here too (he can close this thread too if he wants to, or just block this message, I know he hates being challenged.) But I have just one challege for most of you. I want you to find me any expert (for sake of arguement I will say an expert has to have a book published or serve on some sortof board or whatever) in the area of Asperger's who agrees with you that there are no positives.

I have read many experts: aspies, psycatrists, teachers, professors, parents, doctors, etc. and all of them seem to agree that there are some positives to the condition. Now things might change if you make it low-functioning autism, I have no clue there (and not really much desire to find out), but all experts in the area of Asperger's agree that there are possitives. Same thing with high-functioing autism. So I am curious where you get your information from and how many HFA/AS kids (or hell even adults) you have worked with to get this information. I could quote any number of experts here and they would all say the same thing, that there is the good along with the bad.

Now earlier you seemed to suggest it was bad for the simple reason that it makes life harder. To quote Col. Graff (if you can't tell I sortof like Ender's game), "I am not a happy man, Ender. Humanity does not ask us to be happy. It merely asks us to be brilliant on its behalf. Survival first, then happiness as we can manage it." I could easily say the same thing about an easy life, which means thats hardly the way to measure anything.

As for why so many aspie teens get depressed, I think I will let Metallica handle that one...

"New blood joins this earth
And quikly hes subdued
Through constant pain disgrace
The young boy learns their rules
With time the child draws in
This whipping boy done wrong
Deprived of all his thoughts
The young man struggles on and on hes known
A vow unto his own
That never from this day
His will theyll take away"

It is not our own though processes that make us depressed, just everyone else reacting to our thought processes, to quote Luke Jackson, "Being different may not be a problem for me, or other kids like me, but it sure seems to cause problems for "normal" (ha!) kids." Course according to Johnyboy he was just brainwashed by a movement he helped unite. Makes ya wonder.

jonathan said...

Ender, I published your comment and Marius can answer it if he wants. I don't mind being challenged. I just don't believe it is productive to get in a circular nonending argument. This is why I did not publish your last post after there had been 46 comments in this thread and you would just not give it a rest and I closed out the comments. I will publish this last one for now, but i don't want a circular argument to go on forever between you and marius.

Marius Filip said...


I agree with you that endless arguing is fruitless. As of myself, I try hard not to repeat myself, although I know I fail many times this goal.


I presented "easier life" as defining the norm from an evolutionary perspective.

It has nothing to do with happiness which, in my opinion, is a strictly personal matter.

Ender said...

No problem, I just want to hear some sources. Both his and my opinions are irrelevant (though I would dare say I have worked with more aspies then he has ever met) so I wonder where he gets his information from, or if they are all just assumptions.