The object of autism advocacy should not be a world without autistic people — it should be a world in which autistic people can enjoy the same rights, opportunities and quality of life as any of our neurotypical peers.
As far as I know Ne'eman has not elaborated on what those rights are and on how they can be achieved without curation. There is no way that an autistic person can have a better quality of life without the medical intervention which currently does not exist and that research funding is attempting to find that Ne'eman wants eliminated.
Ne'eman then gives his take on Lovaas and ABA:
Even a cursory glance at the magazine of the Autism Society of America reveals many such examples, with advertisements for vaccine recovery and Applied Behavioral Analysis, whose initial aversive-heavy experiments claimed to bring half of all children subjected to its methods to "indistinguishability from peers." These programs lack the research foundation they claim. For example, Ivar Lovaas' promise of recovery through ABA was based on the theory and methods used with "feminine boys" at-risk for homosexuality (Rekers & Lovaas 1974). That fact alone should give anyone pause. Meanwhile, those who peddle these pseudo-scientific treatments collect hundreds of thousands of un-reimbursable dollars from families justifiably desperate for a way to secure opportunities for their children
It seems strange for him to say this now in light of the fact that ASAN has been a proponent for "positive behavior supports" This is in spite of the fact that Lovaas' provides no evidence for efficacy of positive behavioral supports and was not able to get any of his published results without aversives.
Ne'eman and ASAN have also been advocates for full funding of the IDEA, which in large part, as far as autistic children are concerned, ABA is one of the predominant treatments that parents seek funding for under this law and the bulk of litigation against school districts entails parents attempting to pay for these therapies.
For anyone who regularly reads Michelle Dawson's TMOB comment board it would appear that Dawson and ASAN are at loggerheads over statements that Dawson has made that were critical of ABA.
Next Ne'eman goes on with the old fear mongering neurodiversity lie about genetic research leading to abortions:
What do we really want? Is it autism prevention? Given that research has shown that the autism spectrum is predominantly genetic in origin, the most likely form of prevention would be that of eugenic abortion, similar to what we have seen with the 92 percent rate of selective abortion in the Down syndrome community (Mansfield, et. Al. 1998)
It should not be necessary to comment on the apples and oranges comparison of autism and Down's syndrome but here goes anyhow. Down's syndrome involves an abnormality in one chromosome. The genetic etiologies of the multitude of phenotypes which are termed autism are quite varied and many different abnormalities on genes and chromosomes have been found. There is also the fact that interactions with the environment cause these as well so a prenatal test for autism is not likely on the horizon for a long time. By the time enough about the genetics of autism is thoroughly understand well enough to abort an autistic fetus it is very possible that the DNA could actually be altered so that the child will be typical rather than be sick and crippled by autism. Down's syndrome (at least at one time) was a very different condition from autism, with the chance of them being much more severely impaired than many with autism, also a propensity to develop congenital heart problems and die very early. The study (Mansfield) that Ne'eman cites only reports on various papers that show rates of pregnancy terminations in the 1980s and 1990s. Ne'eman offers no evidence that Down's fetuses are still aborted at the same rates.
Most interesting of all is that many ND's are politically left of center such as Obama supporter autistic bitch from hell. My chronic adversary and harasser Clay Adams seems to have left of center politics. There are probably many other examples. It is likely these individuals support Roe vs. Wade and would have no qualms about allowing a parent to abort a fetus that was conceived due to improper birth control or parents who just happened to change their mind and not want a child. It would seem members of neurodiversity value a child's disability over his humanity.
Ne'eman talks about giving autistics a chance to hold down a job, but naturally offers no solutions, other than claiming there is an alternative to finding a cure or doing scientific research to find better treatments. His solutions are to say social unpleasantries should be overlooked in the workplace but how realistic is that? Like Clay says, wish in one hand shit in the other and see which one fills up first.
Ne'eman goes on to cite a study which shows that autistic people when making monetary decisions involving risk are less likely to be affected by risk and certain social cues. Ne'eman shouts this study out as showing that autistics have strengths that can be capitalized upon in real world situations. However, he neglects to mention that these were high functioning autistics who were matched with normal controls on IQs whose intelligence was well above average (verbal IQ 112, performance IQ 109). These persons also had similar v IQ's and p IQ's unlike the 40 point discrepancy in myself and possibly discrepancies in many other individuals. Can we really assume the results of this study can be applied to all autistics as Ne'eman implies.
Also, what Ne'eman neglects to mention is that though the results of this study suggested that the autistic subjects might be less influenced by question framing biases and had more attention to detail that there was a flip-side. That also it suggested impaired emotions and impaired ability to deal with social situations. So in reality the autistic strengths were offset by the autism weaknesses which, assuming this study could be applied to any real world phenomenon, that it would produce a zero sum result in terms of autistic functioning. Ne'eman only mentions the authors findings of strengths in the study but neglects to note the autistic weaknesses that the study demonstrated.
The old neurodiversity line about autistics being able to do just fine without a cure is extolled:
The oft-cited concept of "recovery" from autism is not only scientifically unsupported but also dangerous in that it removes the very supports that made progress possible for many people with autism. Moreover, by equating developmental progress with a change in the fundamental character of our brains, the recovery concept denies the natural growth and skill acquisition that occurs for all individuals, regardless of disability. It is unreasonable to assume that autistics will be the same at age 30 as at age 3.
No I was not the same at age 30 as age 3. However, at age 30 I still had very bad impairments( which I still have at age 54). Of course this excludes people like John Belmonte over the age 30 and unable to talk or Sean Lapin or Noah Greenfeld, both well over the age of 30 and nonverbal severely autistic with Noah being under institutional care.
Ne'eman then spits out the old neurodiversity bullcrap about how none of us are independent in that we don't hunt for our own food or build our own homes etc. However, there is a difference between dependence and interdependence. In interdependence the lawyer who can't build his own home or hunt his food makes money so that he can pay for these without the aid of the state. The home builder who needs a lawyer pays a lot of money taking Abe Lincoln's old advice about a fool for a client. This is different than autistics who collect SSI being dependent on the state. So basically Ne'eman is saying it is just fine that autistics are impaired and can't do for themselves, not the mention of the humiliation of having to be dependent on parents or on the state, etc.
Ne'eman goes on to speak about his position on whether or not autism is a disability:
It should be stressed: none of this is meant to deny the very real fact that autism is a disability. It is only to point out that disability is as much a social as a medical phenomenon and that the "cure" approach is not the best way forward for securing people's quality of life.
Certainly a different statement from his previous "difference is not disability" statement that he wrote in a previous essay which was later edited to something else after gadfly called him out on it. Of course he still gives himself some leeway in claiming that autism is just as much a social disability as a medical one. Naturally Ne'eman provides no alternative to a cure for securing people's quality of life. He promotes the status quo for example by lobbying for full funding of IDEA. I don't think that even the most rabid proponent of special education for improving the quality of life for those on the spectrum would claim that it would do the same thing or even close to a cure.
Ne'eman goes on to make this statement on autism being a disability which would contradict the first:
Second, we should in every instance consider the fact that it is often social barriers rather than disability itself that pose the problems we face.
No, my handwriting impairment, my phobias, my inability to perform the quality of work expected of me to hold down a job and my social problems that prevent me from having friends are not a social barrier. The same goes for my self-stimulatory behaviors and inability to get things done. They are strictly impairments in and off themselves. Naturally Ne'eman gives no solutions to ameliorating these social barriers except a rather absurd comparison of anxiety to autism. Previously Ne'eman (who as far as I know has never had paid employment of any kind in his life) suggests eliminating social pleasantry as a criterion for hiring. So we are to expect employers to keep employees who run amok in the work place who throw tantrums or who cuss the boss out?
Ne'eman gives augmented communication as a solution for nonverbal autistics neglecting to provide evidence or studies that it works for every nonverbal autistic or even the majority of cases.
Ne'eman ends his essay by taking the usual shot at autism speaks and claiming that the cure philosophy has failed us.
Ne'eman still gave the Isabelle Souleries study funded by autism speaks a shoutout, claiming it proved that autistics aptitudes are underestimated.
On a final note of this lengthy blog post I will concede the search for a cure has not yet produced fruitful results. That does not mean it won't at some point in time. Even if a cure is not possible in the foreseeable future perhaps science can provide better treatments at some point in time.
In light of his inevitable appointment to the national disabilities commission I will look forward to seeing whether or not Mr. Ne'eman can actually produce these results in autistics that he claims possible without a cure. After his appointment is confirmed by the senate he will certainly be in a position to do so. Whether or not Ne'eman can produce his promised results only time will tell.