I see that one of my favorite organizations, autism network international, which has an annual "autreat" has a list of their presenters now. Though I have never attended an autreat, as far as I know, I am still a member in good standing, being one of the earliest people to join this stellar organization back in the early 90s.
My history with ANI is rather interesting. In 1993 or so , I was told by my friend Kathy Lissner (now Kathy Lissner-Grant) whom I started to have a snail mail and phone correspondence with, thanks to our mutual pen pal, David Miedzianik, of an organization for persons on the autism spectrum that was starting worldwide. This was right at the time people were starting to recognize that autism was not uncommon in persons without intellectual impairments. Shortly before this I became one of the founding members of AGUA (adult gathering united autistic) back in 1993. AGUA only meets in the Los Angeles area. She and new best selling author Donna Williams and a fellow named Jim Sinclair had gotten together and started this organization and they were getting fellow autistics to join. They would also be producing a newsletter called "Our Voice" in which autistic people could publish their non-fiction writings. I was excited by this prospect. In 1994 if someone told me there were actually people on the autism spectrum who felt that autism was not a disease or disorder but merely a different way of being and they were actually opposed to curing autism, I would have thought they were nuts or putting me on. Little did I know that this organization would in part be the genesis of that ugly cult of deranged hatemongers called neurodiversity.
I became a member, had two articles published in the original "our voice" newsletter. This was the first time I had actually published anything anywhere. It was rather exciting. Later Jim Sinclair would stop producing the newsletter. Just before they stopped publishing, I read a piece by Jim Sinclair and was shocked to see that he had written something saying that autism was not a disorder but a different way of being. How shocked he was that people would even fund medical research in autism and then compare it to diseases such as blood cancers which actually killed people. He wrote an editorial opposing medical funding of autism. This was sort of a turning point in my career as an autism gadfly as this was my first exposure to neurodiversity and the "we don't need no stinkin' cure" mentality.
They also had an internet mailing list in the early days of the internet. They had a variety of rules that you could not talk about curing autism or autism as a bad thing and various other forms of censorship. Again, I was rather shocked and asked that I be removed from the mailing list.
It seems I am still a member as every year they send me information and registration forms for their autreat. I am not sure how I can resign the organization and it is probably not worth my while to attempt to do so. So, one skeleton I have in my cupboard is that I am actually a member of a neurodiversity organization!
Well, now that sordid history is out of the way, I read some of the presentations with interest.
I see that rogue neurodiversity researcher Morton Gernsbacher with her son Drew Goldsmith and the infamous Amanda Baggs will be giving a presentation on how terrible the labels of high functioning and low functioning are. It is noted that Amanda has been called by low functioning and high functioning and she rejects both labels. I wonder what the difference is between the term "low functioning" as a relative term and "severe". Gernsbacher has no qualms about using the term "severe" to describe some persons with autism relative to others in her essay, autistics need acceptance and not cure. In this essay she stated that persons with severe autism have made great contributions to the arts and sciences yet neglects to cite a single example of such a person. Her son, allegedly autistic, was a high school senior at age 12. Somehow I think the true problems that persons with autism face are an abstraction to Dr. Gernsbacher.
In terms of getting her disability check and public housing, Amanda does not mind telling the government she is dysfunctional. Most persons with an interest in ND know the story of Amanda attending college at age 14, persons who knew her stating she showed no signs of autism or disability, losing her speech at age 20, and then claiming an autism diagnosis, after previously claiming to be a schizophrenic and thinking she was an elf.
They also have a presentation that deals with bullying and cyberbullying and how to counter it. This is something neurodiversity is an expert at, having the vicious hate mongers such as Clay Adams, Harry Williams (Socrates), David Andrews and the late (but not great) "Alyric" who would spend time belittling and bullying anyone on the internet who would dare question the sacred cow of neurodiversity, particularly someone else on the spectrum of autism. If club ND were really sincere, they would be giving a presentation giving lessons in bullying rather than ways to prevent, what they themselves truly promote.
I see that Ari Ne'eman is giving a presentation that deals with prejudice against autistic persons. Though I agree that prejudice does exist and to an extent ND has some legitimate issues, they only reinforce prejudice towards those of us on the spectrum, with their lies, propaganda and vicious hate. Also, Ne'eman quite clearly does not even believe that autism is a disability through his previous statements that have been well-documented on autism's gadfly. Therefore, he will mislead everyone and claim that if prejudice were eliminated autistics would function just fine in the world. Though that may be true for this individual with a possible future as a lawyer and Rhoades Scholar, it is not true for the other 99.9% of us.
I suppose it could have been worse. Though I lacked the prescience not to have joined ANI in the first place, at least I never went to one of those autricks. I wait once again for my annual letter with the form for enrolling in an autrick so I can joyfully chuck it in the wastebasket.