Thursday, September 3, 2015

My unprinted letter to the l.a. times regarding Steve Silberman's op-ed piece on autism speaks

Over a week ago, Steve Silberman, author of "neurotribes", wrote an op-ed piece which was published by several newspapers including the Los Angeles Times.  I wrote a response that was not printed:

To the Los Angeles times:

As a man on the autism spectrum, I must take issue with Steve Silberman’s op-ed piece.  The type of funding that he suggests will do nothing to help autistic people.  It is not a disability that can be accommodated through education or other means.  There is no way that research dollars will be able to help with employment issues. 

Though science may provide no short-term answers, I believe in the long term that funding of scientific research will someday lead to viable treatments and possibly a cure, so I hope it can continue. 

Mr. Silberman makes numerous factual errors in his article.  Though he stated no autistic persons have served on autism speaks boards, John Elder Robison was on the scientific advisory board.  He is a high school dropout with no qualifications or knowledge in the field of autism science.  His appointment was only to quell all the noisy people who insist that autistic people must be on the boards of autism organizations in spite of lack of qualifications. 

Bob and Suzanne Wright never referred to their grandson as being missing.  The missing slogan only referred to missing knowledge of the genetic etiology of autism. 

Silberman has only spoken to autistic people on the mildest end of the spectrum and has completely ignored people who are nonverbal, wear diapers in adulthood and self-mutilate.  It’s shameful that the times would print the op-ed piece by this man whose forthcoming book will undoubtedly trivialize this horrible disability.  

Jonathan Mitchell, Los Angeles, California 

One point of correction, I sent them this email before Silberman's book came out and I read it. He did spend time with Leo Rosa, Shannon Des Roches Rosa's son, who is at the lower end of the spectrum so I suppose the statement he only spent time with higher functioning autistics might not have been completely accurate. But most of the people Silberman has spent time with were on the highest end of the spectrum.

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