Monday, July 29, 2013

"Neurotypical" Ho hum

I just saw "neurotypical".  Naturally I was piqued by the trailer of the black guy in the movie saying he did not want to be cured and a neurotypical life was not necessarily better than an autistic life.  This would also pique pro ND people, anti ND people as well as others not as jaded as myself, who would be shocked to believe anyone could say such a thing if they have newly diagnosed children and are new to the whole autism scene. 

The girl talking about how just because dating does not happen to Temple Grandin does not mean it doesn't happens to others was slightly interesting and provided a smidgen of comic relief. 

Most of the documentary was rather boring.  Not much insight into what life is like for an autistic, even a higher functioning one.  Mostly boring discourses about playing tag, how they feel about certain social interactions, etc. 

It became slightly more interesting when ASAN member Paula Westby-Durbin came on, stating that she had not heard about PDD or autism until about 2006 (when she would have been well into middle age) and then apparently got a diagnosis somewhere but is quite vague as to where and on what basis she was diagnosed. I had wondered about her and I wonder what sort of childhood she had and if her parents sought medical treatment for her as a child.   She gives some slight explanations such as she lacked friends growing up, yet was successfully able to find a husband and apparently has a job where she will be paying off a mortgage on a house. 

At the end of the documentary, they show captions giving the names of these people and a little bit on their background.  Apparently, the filming was not done properly and there was not enough room on the screen to read everything and they were flashed for not nearly long enough for anyone to really take it in and read it properly.  I'm perplexed as to why PBS would air something so poorly edited. 

Adam Larsen, the filmmaker, gave some commentary at the very end which started out as somewhat astute stating that the media only concentrated on severe children or people who were savants.  Though the latter may be true, I'm not even sure how the former is true.  He then went on to talk about how a number of autistics don't want to be cured and are comfortable with who they are.  Then stated his own bias where he apparently believes that autism is a legitimate form of neurology rather than disease. 

It's unfortunate they did such a good job of marketing the film but the content was so lacking. 

I'm still waiting for someone to make a documentary about autistic children in special schools, frustrated with their life and as adults, frustrated that they can't keep a job or find a mate.  However, I won't hold my breath. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Neurotypical" or neurodiversity propaganda ?

I see that soon a new documentary film which appears to extoll the virtues of neurodiversity is slated to air on PBS on Monday, July 29, at 10 p.m.  I looked at my local PBS station for the listings though and could not find it.  But hopefully I will see it eventually. Perhaps I should not judge this film before seeing it, but it seems heavily pro neurodiversity.   Here is the trailer:  We see a gentleman stating that he is opposed to people trying to cure him and that being a neurotypical is not a better way of life but a different way of life.  First of all, a cure for autism does not exist and in the words of Far From The Tree  author Andrew Solomon it's sort of like arguing intergalactic space travel.  If a cure did exist I would not be in favor of forcing it on this individual.  I would want a cure for myself and for others who need it. 

I believe being a neurotypical is a better way of life.  I don't see how anyone can argue, not having decent interpersonal relationships including marriage, being able to earn a decent living and being able to be productive and get things done during the day is not a better way of life.  Certainly those on the severe end of the spectrum who can't speak, aren't toilet trained and self injure themselves are certainly leading a different way of life, but it certainly isn't better. 

I also see ASAN's Paula Westby Durbin is featured in this too, so more evidence of a pro neurodiverse documentary. 

I hope that no one will take this documentary seriously and that research leading to finding legitimate treatments and ultimately to a cure will still be pursued. If I ever see this documentary I may have more to say about it.  Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Autism not a disability but a gift and super ability?

I see that David Ellams, a computer programmer and app developer allegedly somewhere on the autism spectrum, is trivializing my disability and those of others by proclaiming that autism spectrum disorders are not only not a disability but a gift and a "super ability". 

My ASD, and I suspect that of most others, it not a gift but a horrific disability.  It causes immense pain and suffering.  He seems to believe that it's a given that all autistics are super gifted with computers.  Any one of us could become a Kevin Mitnick or some other kind of super coder or hacker.  Most autistics (including myself who took coursework in computer programming, but was unable to enter the profession) will never be computer experts, no matter how much spin this individual wants to put on it. 

This was apparently in response to a petition protesting some offensive song lyrics.  How signing this petition, as Mr. Ellams alleges, will show the world that autistic people have 'super abilities' is beyond my comprehension and defies all tenets of common sense and logic, even for a neurodiversity proponent. 

Mr. Ellams also uses what Harold Doherty terms as "the royal we" that some other neurodiversity proponents are fond of using:

We are not ill and there is no cure since we do not need curing, we need to re-educate the world on what Autism really is…

If this crap weren't enough Ellams makes even more irrational statements:

They are each mini Geniuses in their field and with the help of our sister company NextGen Software Ltd we can help empower and inspire them to be anything they want t be, if it is to do with programming and Computers then the FREE NextGen Developer Training programme is for them. Since we know much like myself, we are often very gifted when it comes to computers, in fact we find them incredibly easy,

It would appear that Mr. Ellams has tremendous conflicts of interest as he owns both a yoga for autism company and the next gen software, ltd, where he apparently makes money for the empty promise that an autistic super genius can become a computer programmer or anything else they want. 

I wonder if anyone would care to start a petition against Mr. Ellams' s statements and his yoga and software businesses. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Matt Carey's bizarre take on the cause of bullying of autistics

Matt Carey writes blog posts for the well-known blog Left Brain Right Brain. He appears to have at least some neurodiverse leanings.  It would appear that Mr. Carey has a penchant for making factual errors in blog posts or writing things that don't jive with any established facts.  For some reason, he at one time anonymously posted under the pseudonym "Sullivan". In addition to regularly writing this blog, he's also a public figure in that he's a citizen member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a group that gives policy recommendations to the federal government. 

He's concerned (as am I) with the fact that autistic kids are often bullied and that bullying can lead to a variety of psychologic problems in the victims and even suicide in some cases.  He's written a post on the subject.  However, he has a rather strange explanation for the reason autistic children are often bullied: 

Having recently seen some pretty horrible anti-acceptance images I feel compelled to make this statement: yes, the portrayal of autism by many parent advocates contributes to bullying. If we don’t accept our own children, with their differences and disabilities, if we promote a message that our children and adults like them are not to be accepted, we contribute many problems, bullying being one. Yes, I understand the argument that when some reject acceptance “it’s the autism not the person”. I reject that logic. It’s damaging the way we as parents often portray our kids. It contributes to bullying, and bullying contributes to many bad outcomes.

As is par for the course for Carey, he neglects to cite even a specific example of a negative image and how it could lead to bullying. 

I grew up as a child who was frequently bullied. It was in the 1960's, decades before hardly anyone had heard of autism, let alone publically produced anything that could be construed as a negative image of it.   Somehow I don't think nondisabled children or even other special education children who might bully someone go around reading the blogs and the internet and whatever it is that Carey construes as "anti-acceptance images".  Kids just like to victimize someone who they feel is odd and get some sort of kick out of it. 

As someone who grew up during the Bettelheim era and actually lived through it, I resent Carey implying that somehow bullying is the parents fault, his baseless statement that parents don't accept their own kids, and that bullies just happened to see negative images and that is one of the explanations for their behavior. 

There is no doubt that bullying would be done regardless of what images parents or the media portray of autism.  It is ridiculous to think that prejudice or animus toward a person with autism is because of parents. 

I wonder what Carey's explanation is for bullying of kids who are short, overweight or have acne.  Are they not accepted by their parents and/or are negative images made of them? 

Finally, I am also curious as to what Carey regards as a negative image since he's so vague about it.  Is it that autism is a disease that should be cured?  That it's a disadvantage in life that causes incredible pain for the children and their families?  Or is it just that a cure for autism would be a good thing, since he seems to have at least somewhat of a neurodiversity perspective?  If this is the case, then I wonder why the federal government would appoint this individual to a post that came about under the Combating Autism Act whose purpose is to ultimately eradicate autism and who looks at autism as a negative thing that needs a cure.