Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sullivan gets it wrong on Ari Ne'eman again

I see the left brain right brain no brain blog is at it again with attempts at damage control when autism's gadfly exposed Ari Ne'eman for being appointed to the national council on disabilities when he has stated in the past that he does not believe that autism is a disability. In the original essay from which I quoted Ne'eman stated the words "difference is not disability". I won't bother linking to the essay because it has now been changed and I have linked to it and quoted the essay as it originally stood in my previous post and the interested reader can see these. In the changed essay Ne'eman wrote that difference is only disability when it is not accommodated for. Sullivan quoted this changed statement and neglected to acknowledge that the essay was later edited. He did not bother to quote the original essay. Even with the changed essay I disagree with Sullivan's statements that this is different from saying that autism is not a disability. Even in the changed essay Ne'eman is still implying this, though giving himself some leeway. Though Ne'eman's changed statement really does not change the fact that he is still stating that autism is not a disability, at least given the standard definition of disability, Sullivan is trying to claim that those of us who are unhappy about Ne'eman's appointment to the council are misquoting what he said. I suppose I should have taken a screen shot of Ne'eman's original essay to show that Sullivan and other Ne'eman supporters are really being dishonest in stating that Ne'eman never stated that autism was not a disability.

The origin of Ne'eman editing the essay where he originally wrote difference is not disability probably goes back to another pathetic attempt at damage control on Sullivan's part where Sullivan made tons of factual errors and neglected to do the necessary research that Ne'eman in fact had said that autism is not a disability. It was autism's gadfly who did the research showing Ne'eman in the past had written in an essay the words "difference is not disability" and had in fact stated that autism is not a disability. Ne'eman then stated:

As for the comment made about my Jewish Week article, I don’t recall saying at any point there that autism wasn’t a disability – only that it was not a disease, something I think exemplifies the neurodiversity position much better. I did seem to imply it though with the phrase “difference is not disability”. Though the phrase is technically true, I shouldn’t have phrased it that way. I was wrong to do so – and if that is the worst mistake I’ve made or ever will make in print, I’ll count myself lucky. Fortunately, I have years of advocacy work and public statements that show my work in the Disability Rights movement as a person with a disability.

So at the very least Ne'eman does admit to having made an error in the original article. He then went back and edited the original article to give himself some wiggle room.

Having quoted the pertinent phrases of the article as it originally stood as I have done in my previous post where I talked about my take on Ne'eman's nomination to the council, I stand by my statement that the context in which "difference isn't disability" Ne'eman was stating unequivocally that he (at least at the time) did not believe that autism is a disability. His statement that he never said autism was not a disability certainly is not true and there is no doubt of this. Sullivan and the other ND's can put all the spin on it they want but I don't believe there is any other way that Ne'eman's comments can be construed. It is irrelevant that he has lent his time and efforts to legislation and organizations that have used the term 'disability'.

The only thing that Sullivan does get right in this piece is that the efforts on my part and others who don't want Ne'eman appointed to the council will most likely be futile. Nominations to the NDC are most likely routinely confirmed as they would not generate enough controversy or have enough people complain. These are probably not like nominations to the supreme court where a controversial candidate gets scrutiny and enough people would complain to their senators and they would be blackballed in the case of Robert Bjork and nearly blackballed in the case of Clarence Thomas.

If a nomination to the NDC were in the same league as a nomination to the supreme court, I can't help thinking of the grilling that Ne'eman would be getting in a subcommittee of the senate about his previous statements.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Obama appoints Ari Ne'eman to National Council on disabilities

I see that President Obama has made nominations for some new administration positions these include a nomination for Ari Ne'eman's appointment to the National Council on disabilities. So, now we have someone who has stated the position that certain people think autism speaks is morally complicit with murder and seems to have given this statement credibility. We also have the appointment of a 21-year-old who has never been employed in any capacity who gives input on employment. Most stupefying of all is that Ne'eman is being appointed to a council on disabilities even though he himself does not believe that autism is a disability. Ne'eman has written:

We see the world in a different way than our neurotypical peers (neurotypical is a word in the autistic community meaning those of the majority neurology). This does not imply a defect, but merely a difference — one that we have just the same right to as those of a different race, nationality or religion.The belief was that anyone society labeled "disabled" could only go so far. Sadly, these misconceptions had the potential to become self-fulfilling prophecies. When the expectation is that people of a certain type can only reach so far, they are not provided with the same challenges and opportunities that educators give mainstreamed students....
In the last paragraph Ne'eman writes:

We should recognize what diversity of neurology has contributed to the human race and what it can bring to the future. Difference is not disability and someday, I hope, the world will recognize that those who think in different ways should be welcomed.

Of course if anyone wants to argue semantics, Ne'eman does say in that essay that disability comes from society's attitudes, so in essence he could be claiming the old Larry Arnold argument that he considers himself disabled from the social model rather than the medical model. However, still this shows to me that he has a different definition of disability than the mainstream, including what I suspect is the federal government's.

This appointment of an inexperienced 21-year-old who has these views that I regard as harmful is of concern to me. I am not sure if these nominations have to be confirmed by congress or not. I would consider writing my congressman though he never responded to my question of the legality of allowing Ne'eman and Katie Miller to testify before the IACC so seems pointless to write him again. I may write a letter to President Obama telling him how much this appointment concerns me.

Addendum: I decided to call my congressman's office. I was told that these appointments are confirmed by the senate and not by the house. I have written (by email) both senators Boxer and Feinstein, urging them to reject Ne'eman's confirmation to the council. I also left a phone message with Boxer's office. I got a message from Feinstein's office saying the lines were busy, but I guess the email may be enough. Of course, these appointments are probably routinely confirmed in most cases, so there is little chance enough people would complain and we could get the senate to reject Ne'eman's confirmation. But I urge anyone who feels as I do who is an American citizen to contact their senators and urge them not to confirm Ne'eman's appointment.
I have also contacted the white house and left a message for president Obama that I disapproved of this nomination and felt he should reconsider.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

James Delorey disputes neurodiversity's propaganda

I see that a nonverbal autistic 7-year-old boy who was lost in the snow in Canada for a couple of days has passed away. Once again the ND line that autism does not kill anyone has been disproved by this innocent young child's untimely demise. It always saddens me to read these things.

I realize there won't be a cure in the foreseeable future, but if one could be found at some point of time, senseless deaths like these could be prevented. So, the ND movement once again with their trying to stifle scientific research that could lead to a cure for autism does not seem to care about preventing tragedies such as these.

Once again, there will be outrage and fury by the ND's anytime a child with autism is senselessly murdered by their parents. I and anyone else who desires a cure for autism will be blamed for that murder by these people. I doubt James' death will be posted on any ND blogs, nor will any tears be shed for his death. Though I have no actual statistics, it would seem anecdotaly far more children with autism die from tragedies such as these than are murdered by parents, caretakers or others. Harold Doherty has posted it on his blog, I don't think I need to provide a link.

I wonder when Ari Ne'eman and ASAN will lobby congress for funding of GDS devices for parents of nonverbal autistic children who can't afford them.

I wonder what James' parents would think if they read Morton Gernsbacher's, Michelle Dawson's and Laurent Mottron's piece, autism: common, heritable, but not harmful.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ari Ne'eman testifies before the EEOC

I see the never employed 21-year-old Ari Ne'eman is at it again. Ari Ne'eman seems to once again offer his expertise on the subject of employment, something he knows of not one iota, never having been employed in his life. I've previously written about Ne'eman's trying to make himself out to be an expert in this subject of which he does not know from shoe polish. The media exposure happy Ne'eman gave an interview to a New Jersey newspaper in which he offered his own input on the workplace. Not as anything more than an ivory tower observer, let alone someone (myself) who has had many years of experience in the workplace experiencing these problems first hand that happens to those on the spectrum. Now, Mr. Ne'eman is offering his $.02 worth (and even this price tag is being exceedingly generous to Ne'eman) by giving testimony before the EEOC.

Ne'eman starts off by stating that all autism spectrum disorders should be included under the EEOC's rubric. This is not surprising in that Ne'eman having had speech at age 2-3 and knowing the names of various dinosaurs, would have never had an autism diagnosis based on criteria which was not extant until about 1994. He would still have to say he had Attention deficit disorder and be a crusader for the rights of this group instead.

He also talks about a clause in the law that is a 'regarded from' aspect of the disability and states that things like a data entry person being dismissed from their job for not looking the person in the eye be something that is inclusive among autistics. What Ne'eman in his youthful naivete' fails to grasp is that an employer is not going to outright admit to terminating a person's employment because they did not look the employer in the eye. They will come up with an excuse that no matter how bogus will basically be impossible to prove in a court of law or the EEOC or anywhere else where a terminated autistic employee will desire to redress a grievance against a discriminating employer. I know this for a fact because I was fired from a data entry job where a productivity study was falsified against me. Naturally this individual would not come right out and say that he was firing me for being a peculiar person. It would have been certainly infeasible if not impossible for me to disprove this contention and claim that I was being discriminated against.

Secondly Ne'eman claims that 30% of companies are offering these personality tests which are irrelevant to performance of a job in question and that due to a person with autism giving undesirable answers they are screened out from a job from which they are qualified. Interestingly, I have had hundreds of job interviews (as opposed to Ari's likely zero) and I can't recall one instance in which I was administered one of these so-called personality tests. I suppose it is possible things could have changed drastically from where 0 to 30% of companies would give these tests in the few years that I have been out of the job market but that seems unlikely to me. What Ne'eman won't acknowledge is the fact that though discrimination exists and is indeed a factor in autistic employment, impairment is a much more poignant issue. The fact that a person with autism actually has a disability that incapacitates their ability to learn and do a job certainly does not jibe with Ne'eman's "being anti-cure isn't being anti-progress" mantra. However, Ne'eman wishes to deny me and others the cure that would enable us to be employable. If I had been an extremely good medical transcriptionist, plumber, computer programmer, etc, I would have had no problem keeping a job. It is true I would have faced some discrimination but I would not have been forced out of the workplace at a relatively young age. This is likely true for most if not all persons on the autistic spectrum.

I personally have little faith in the ADA or the EEOC in being able to do anything to help autistics secure employment. But Ne'eman's big government intervention policies help him conveniently avoid the issues of an autistic person actually not being able to work aside from discrimination. I do not believe that these federal laws that supposedly protect disabled individuals in the workplace are enforceable. This goes along with my nearly 28 years of experience of having actually worked with this handicap, being fired from multiple jobs and having applied for many many more.

Ari Ne'eman I know you read this blog and I would appreciate it if you and ASAN would do us all a favor and not try to talk about work related issues until you have actually gone out into the world and worked as an employee yourself.