Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another autreat conference

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.


Stephanie said...

Drew Goldsmith was (allegedly) a high school senior at 12 but has apparently been told he is "low-functioning?" Is that a joke?

Has anyone from ND ever been around someone that truly is "low-functioning?" From reading what they write, I would say that most of them have definitely not.

I especially like the presentation about "cyber-bullying." I've been the most viciously attacked and bullied by ND and ASAN supporters so I find it strange that they would give a presentation about this.

Also note that the presentation is how to "protect" ND supporters and "allies." I wonder if they consider me an "allay?" After all, I want mostly the same things that they do, just without all of the extra BS involved (e.g. Amanda Baggs, facilitated communication, etc.)

I also like the title "How They Hate Us." There is just something so radical about it, humorous.

I think ND keeps an "enemies" list: those who don't agree with them 100% seem to be on it (e.g. me).

How about a presentation about something useful, like how to get and keep a job?

It seems like they all like to claim how intelligent and unique they all are but not many of them have jobs and/or live independently.

I didn't find any of the presentations to sound useful to me.

jonathan said...

How about a presentation about something useful, like how to get and keep a job?

Iam a bit surprised they have not had Ne'eman give that presentation. After all he did give that interview to that newspaper in New Jersey about how helpful accommodations would be for autistics in the workplace, such as adjusting for sound and light sensitivities. I also liked his suggestion about one solution for reducing unemployment among autistics being eliminating social pleasantry as a criteria for hiring. I don't have the link handy, I wish I did, but I did write about it in a previous gadfly post which you could probably find if you want.

Interesting that Ne'eman would give that advice, given he was a 21 year old at the time who had never had paid employment of any kind (pretty sure still hasn't).

re: Drew Goldsmith, I have no idea if anyone has told him if he was low functioning or not.

Socrates said...


If you read some of my first few comments here, you will see that I tried to encourage to work on your writing, and suggested all kinds of things to help you out. You without exception took a dump on them.

And also since you spend so much time on The New Republic, you will know that I am one of "Neurodiversity"'s most out-spoken critics.

I have attempted to slaughter every sacred cow in the Neurodiversity's Funny-Farm.

Free Speech also reigns on my blog - no comments are deleted nor rejected unless they put me in serious danger of being on the wrong side of the law.

Stephanie said...

I read on the ANI page that he (Drew Goldsmith) has been told he is "low-functioning."

Yes, ironic that Ari Ne'eman is giving advice about employment considering he has never had a real job.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan and Readers,

This video an individual with Asperger's created explains a form of psychological abuse called gaslighting, how it could affect people on the autistic spectrum, and how they often misinterpret gaslighting in specific social circumstances:

Perhaps that's why Neurodiversity acts insane.

Kent Adams said...

Jonathan, I never knew this history. I wish you had written it before.

Sinclair is a liar and I proved it over at ABFH's blog last year when I protested Droopy being denied entrance.

Its interesting Ari Ne'eman is giving any presentation on autistic discrimination. He kicked me off his list when I protested the lack of inclusion of you and Droopy and the lack of LFA representation at ASAN. In fact, I have him on recording talking a bunch of crap about Clay Adams believe it or not and lots of screen shots as well as footage of him denying me the opportunity to freely report on his protest in NYC.

Stephanie, children are off limits in my opinion and you shouldn't be talking about anyone's diagnosis ("low functioning people love living in institutions"...I was LFA autistic then I became LFA with a high IQ then I became a high functioning person with the inability to speak then I became ....etc).

Jonathan, I have a good mind to confront Ari on this speech, camera in hand like I did in NYC except this time I won't let him manipulate my filming. He'll probably call the cops on me for standing up for the inclusion of all autistic people which he doesn't support and never has.

SM69 said...


This video you are flagging is very interesting and not just because of the issues discussed on gaslighting. Confusions “on who is doing what” do occur in any relationship where abuse/bullying is taking place. The non-stop distortion of reality, the non-stop pressure put on individuals, can eventually cause a totally clear mind to become confused, depressed and unsure of what is going on in the relationship. Often there is perversity also taking place and the relationship continues despite clear negativity associated to it. This is a classic trap, many of us have experienced it, one way or another. There are many books written on the topic.

I can see abuse is more likely perpetrated on ASD/AS people, and as this young woman argues, when someone is unclear about the origin of a problem, being either physical, emotional or mental, and when someone has learned that to report it and speak up is not always welcomed, the whole issue can seriously worsened.

However, as it has been expressed repetitively on Gadfly, AS people can also propagate intensive levels of abuse on others. Perhaps in the same way that these individuals have been abused themselves, but this is not an excuse. This is a very vicious circle that needs to be broken, but not with more abuse, not with more fighting. By showing instead clearly, down to the facts, what is going on. Out in the open, ideally with some level of analysis taking place. This is best way to handle any form of discrimination and bullying.

There are some lyrics in a song from Editors I particularly like: “in the end, all you can hope for, is the love you fell to equal the pain you’ve gone through”

All to say that being aware of the bullying and discrimination taking place should lead to exposure not just ranting and more bullying to others and the answer to a problem is a life with more respect and peace, not war.

“oh, start afresh, surround your naked heart”

Stephanie said...


You obviously enjoy harassing people with autism diagnosis who have been in institutions and suffer severe psychological problems because of it.

I never said I had LFA. You need to stop lying.

I honestly don't understand you: here I am, a person with autism, who was considered to be "severe" (never LFA but my problems were certainly considered "severe"), who was institutionalized, who agrees with pretty much everything you say and yet you ignore and abuse me.

Go figure.

(At 12 I was in an institution, not a high school senior).

Larry Arnold PhD FRSA said...

For what it is worth, I have had my differences with Jim Sinclair too, that does not diminish some of what he has written however, nor does it mean I disagree totally with what xe stands for.

It should come as no surprise that I have had time to have differences with just about every autistic "name" at one time or another because that is the type of person I am.

I have my differences in public, and my problem with Jim Sinclair was (and still is) his proprietry hold over Autreat and Ani, because although he is not the sole decision maker he is the final arbiter.

Autscape however doesn't work like this, we have a democratic structure, and a proper constitution. Disputes still arise of course, but tell me any healthy organisation where they do not?

There are a lot of reasons besides flying transatlantic why I would be wary of going to Autreat, one of which is the virtual imposition of Jim Sinclairs dietary preferences on everybody.

highschoolteacher said...

Hilarious: "So, one skeleton I have in my cupboard is that I am actually a member of a neurodiversity organization!"