Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sarah Palin, Autism Speaks and neurodiversity: Some Irony?

It has been in the news lately that Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin who has a nephew with autism recently participated in a walk for autism speaks. Ms. Palin also has the distinction of being solidly pro-life as far as her political position on abortion goes. She has also given birth to a son with Down's syndrome rather than aborting him when he was still a fetus. According to Ari Ne'eman and other neurodiversity proponents, the peer review literature states that 90% of all pregnancies resulting in a Down's fetus are terminated by abortion. This means that Ms. Palin was in the 10% of mothers who carried her Down's child to term and did not abort him.

One neurodiversity blogger, the autism bitch from hell in one of her posts went so far as to say that the only thing on autism speaks' agenda was developing a prenatal test with the intent of being able to abort autistic fetuses. This means that in reality the funding that AS provides to study mu wave rhythm suppression, research on functional magnetic resonance imaging studies and the other things are just a front. They are not really doing this, or somehow funding research on brain waves will ultimately result in finding a way to abort every single autistic fetus that comes along. Even more interesting is the fact that they have given nearly half a million dollars to neurodiversity ideologue Laurent Mottron. This must mean that somehow Mottron's research will lead to a prenatal test to detect autism. When I pointed out the absurdity of the post to her and pointed out that all she had to do was go to autism speaks website and see all of the studies that this organization funds where the connection between them and developing a prenatal test for autism is certainly difficult to understand, ABFH changed the wording of her post from "the only thing on their agenda" to "their ultimate goal".

Considering Palin's pro life stance, the fact that she would be part of the one in ten mothers who carried her Down's baby to term and did not abort him, you would think she would be the darling of the neurodiversity movement. They should be chanting, "The white house needs a new resident, in 2012 Palin for president". But somehow ASAN and the other organizations are silent in their endorsement of Palin.

I wonder how neurodiversitites explain Palin's involvement with autism speaks. This organization they claim has a goal of finding ways to deliberately abort autistic fetuses. Why then would a woman who solidly opposes abortion and did what ND's should love, i.e., keeping a Down's child baby would support autism speaks, the organization they hate so much? Does anyone else besides me see some irony here? Of course there is probably some explanation which eludes me. So far, when I wondered why Michelle Dawson would continue to work in the Mottron group and why she had not resigned in protest when she so clearly loathes autism speaks I have just heard the unbelievable statement from her that "science isn't politics". So I suppose ND's might have an explanation for the anti-abortion, Down's syndrome child mother, Sara Palin's involvement in this organization that they hate so much.

I suspect though that this just yet another reason to just say no to neurodiversity


......I'm Anonymous said...


I don't really think Sarah Palin is largely on the minds of those in ND. This is the 2nd post about abortion you have done, I'm not sure how this helps you or anyone else on the spectrum today so why use any energy on it? Rather than being a critic, why don't you offer some answers?

farmwifetwo said...

I have another "theory" as well.

If with the use of gene therapy, stem cell therapy or drug therapy, you are able to have a severe autistic become a mild autistic, then the HFA (ASAN/Hub) crowd will lose support b/c gov'ts and others will wonder why they cannot be independant of gov't services.

Also, if this happens, they can no longer claim to speak for those who are on the severe end of the spectrum if they can now speak for themselves.

I have HUGE doubts that after gene/stem cell/medications that these new HFA autistics are going to agree with the current ASAN/ND crowd that being LFA was "glorious", "joyful" and "a difference not a disability".

I have this OPINION since they oppose Autism Speaks/CAN and the research on autism they have been doing.

Have you ever read Portia Iverson's "Strange Son" it's about her drive to start Cure Autism Now and her relationship with Tito and his Mom. A must read.


jonathan said...

Anonymous, you might start by reading more of my blog. The answers that I have offered are to do research to find a cure for autism, to do scientific research that ND rejects having been done.

Another answer is maybe spending half a million dollars on some job training programs for autistic people rather than giving it to Laurent Mottron and Michelle Dawson.

The sad truth is that the prognosis for most with autism is poor and there are no easy short term answers or quick fixes.

I believe writing about abortion is relevant given the fact that it is a big concern of ND's and there is so much inconsistency on their stance regarding it.

jonathan said...

Farm wife: Yes, I read portia's book, but don't remember much of it. I agree with the rest of what you are saying.

SM69 said...

I would agree with ...I'm Anonymous, wow what a photo!

Responding to M on previous post is more important. I have nothing to add to this subject again, but I appreciate J that you are making an effort to entertain us.

navywifeandmom said...

"If with the use of gene therapy, stem cell therapy or drug therapy, you are able to have a severe autistic become a mild autistic, then the HFA (ASAN/Hub) crowd will lose support b/c gov'ts and others will wonder why they cannot be independant of gov't services."

That's pretty much ND in a nutshell. If a cure was found, they'd lose a lot of their credibility. No more government funding for a disability that has a cure.

I guess I cannot grasp why a person would remain disabled if he/she doesn't have to? That's the only reason I can think of.

John Best said...

Neuronitwits are not disabled at all. They are merely trying to alter the definition of autism through their propaganda to have autism redefined as "nerdism" and sweep the real autistics under the rug.

Roger Kulp said...

I am going to have to put this up in a couple of posts here.In recent weeks,I have learned that Autism Speaks is anything but the organization they present themselves to desperate parents as. Last week,I read this in the comment section of Harold Doherty's blog.perhaps you did too:

Anonymous said...

I read this today and it just made me sick. I don't even have the words to comment on it.

I am a professional that has reviewed many non profit organization's IRS Form 990s. Autism Speaks Form 990 raises serious red flags. Serious. This is all from the official filing for 2006.

1. Three members of the Board of Directors received $2.5 million for their own organizations.

2. The President Mark Rothmeyer,just received a 5 year contract for about $2,000,000 including bonuses with no prior background with autism.

3. The grants are primarily going to those representing institutions that are reviewing the grants. There is no indication that these conflicts are independently reviewed

4. The location of this small and new foundation is in very expensive downtown New York facilities (2 Park Avenue) rented for $200,000 by the institution that is run by the Chairman of Autism Speaks.

5. A expense of a Private Jet plane for $57,000 was noted. This is very unusual for a new non profit groups.

6. The head of the scientific review received the majority of the funds for 2005 for his institution for a data base - almost $3 million

Since the funding is now from the public - and the advertising and promotion tugs at the publics heart strings with images of families in need - the funds collected MUST be about those it raises the money for.

The following are all taken from the Form 990 filing

Web Site $830,000
Software for the computer $514,000
Lawyers $440,000
Computers $337,000
Public relations $285,000
Office annual rent $200,000
HR consultant $110,000
Editorial Consultant $76,000
Private Jet Plane for someone that entertained $57,000

Mark Rothmeyer* $360,000
Peter Bell [$240,000?]
Alison Singer $168,000
Mr Ringall $150,000
Andy Shik $110,000

Remember all the above also gets significant fringe benefits that
probably add.

Mark Rothmayer also can get $50,000 more with a bonus a year benefits
3:00 PM

Roger Kulp said...

This was the first I had seen of it.One wonders where AS not only get the money for this,but to set up something like this: at an institution like Kennedy Krieger.

If you look around IAN's website, you will see that they are promoting a sort of "soft" neurodiversity message,very fitting with the money AS paid Laurent Mottron.As an adult with an ASD,I strongly suggest you fill out one of their surveys.This way, you will receive email alerts of their "research" studies.

The one I got yesterday,is for this study:

Name of Study: A Qualitative Dissertation Investigating Factors Contributing to the Success of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders Living Independently
Location: San Diego, California or by phone anywhere in the US
Institution: California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University
Eligibility Criteria: This is a study for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and a family member, close relative or friend who has known the subject with ASD since childhood. All participants are adults 18 years of age or older.The diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder was given by a qualified professional such as a psychologist,psychiatrist,or pediatrician familiar with autism spectrum disorders and was diagnosed using standardized measures (including DSM-IV-TR, ICD-10, etc).The individual with ASD is currently living independently or with little to no daily assistance for self-care from the any caregiver(s), parents, relatives, or close friend, or by any other means. Furthermore, the individual with ASD is maintaining employment or is continuing education beyond high school.
Principal Investigator: Jordan Weisman, M.A. Under the supervision of Dr. Gary W. Lawson, Ph.D. (Psy. License # Psy 9547)

Sounds pretty much like a study a ND type would dream up doesn't it ?I see a real pattern here.AS may have started out as a bunch of antivaxers,but there on the ND bandwagon how.

As for Palin,and being pro-life,I don't see the conflicts that you do.Neurodiversity has been undergoing quite the transformation as far as abortion is concerned.Why do you think they are opposed to genetic research ?They are afraid it will lead to abortions of autistic babies.They just have not come to terms yet with the rest of her right wing agenda,but they will,certainly by 2012.

I think there is the beginning of an alliance between this element of ND,and certain elements of the anti-abortion right.This in spite of the Ron Paul-Alex Jones paleoconservative bend of blogs like Age of Autism,who also do not take too kindly to neurodiversity.I think we are beginning to see the evolution of the ND movement,where it is dividing into different factions. For those of us opposed to ND as a whole,this may be a good sign.

SM69 said...


Thanks for sharing this information on AS. Whilst I appreciate you did not write this but Anon did, would you or someone else be kind enough to explain to a non-US person like me what is an IRS Form 990 and give me an indication of how likely correct these statements are? It seems more than extravagant and highly unethical and I find really incredible that such things could take place. I mean their web site is OK but not that good, $830K for this, it’s madness! Of course the jet planes etc are even worse still.

I made our web site in my own free spare time, as I tend to mess around on the computer a lot, by default. Today we received a quote for a professional site for £1600 which we brought down to £1000. The mock site looks amazing. I asked that that our charity goes for it, saying that I’ll pay for it in 5 installments of £200. It looks that we are micro particles in term of expenses by comparison.

In the UK accounts are independently audited, we would never get research funding if our accounts were including that type of expensive. Honestly, the system is failing if such organization can actually do this. Can someone please tell me how real these claims/facts are?

jypsy said...

This AS IRS info has been out there for more than 2 years. Here is the AS 2005 990. Here is the 2006 990.

"Form 990 is an annual reporting return that certain federally tax-exempt organizations must file with the IRS. It provides information on the filing organization's mission, programs, and finances." (From this FAQ)

As I understand it (I'm not in the USA), you don't want to be caught lying to the IRS so these forms/statements should be fairly accurate. I stand to be corrected.