Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Are autistics lazy loafers who refuse to work when they can?

As regular readers of my blog know, I've been unemployed for ten years now.  Though I don't know the exact statistics for autistic unemployment I've seen figures bandied about as high as 85-90%.  As the flurry of autistics who were diagnosed in the nineties have become adults, the problem of unemployment among autistics in recent years has become widely publicized.  Parents of these children have become so desperate to find them jobs, that they've influenced major media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, New York times and others to state that autism is such a great gift to humanity that employers should be begging autistic people to work for them.

This is in part due to autistics supposed superiority in attention to details based on the urban legend that autistics have a superior aptitude for finding embedded figures.  This is despite the fact that the majority of published literature shows no superior facility in this, particularly in those at the higher end of the spectrum.

There is one instance in which retired blogger "the autistic bitch from hell" alleged that autistics who don't work are basically welfare bums who fight efforts by social justice warriors to end job discrimination because they fear losing their government benefits.

Therefore I was interested to read a poorly written article filled with grammatical and spelling errors  by someone named Ron Sandison who states that he's on the autism spectrum even though he has two jobs, including being a professor of Theology and is married and has a child.  He talks about having met Temple Grandin and quotes her as saying that autistics should get off their butts and get a job.  She agreed to attend Mr. Sandison's presentation after he told her about his two jobs.  She stated that there were too many autistics who would not get out of the house and get a job.  She spoke of a 16 year old boy who had never done his own shopping and stated that she was glad Sandison's mother had not babied him the way this boy's mother had.  It seems that Grandin, along with some of other more unsavory members of the ND movement are still trying to bring us back to the Bettelheim era which my parents and I actually lived through.  I was intrigued by this passage in Sandison's piece:

also loved her quote, “Young adults with autism—need to get their butts out of the house and get a job! Work experience can start small walking dogs in the neighborhood or mowing lawns.” When I was fifteen-years-old my dad helped me get a job as a dishwasher at Bell Knapps. I developed social skills and manors (sic) by working in the hospitality industry.

I was recently in a facebook interaction with one individual who commented on this article and stated he admired Temple Grandin and extolled her virtues stating that he supported himself and autistics should work.  I commented that it was easier said than done and another told me I should try.  I pointed out to this individual that I did try like hell for 28 years but was fired from so many jobs and had so many problems I ended up retiring ten years ago at age fifty-one.  He called me a quitter and an enabler and I blocked him.

I'm not a bum and a slacker, I worked in many jobs, had serious problems in most of them before I gave up.  I went to college and could not do well enough to go to graduate school and get a career in psychology or brain research.  I tried to study computer programming and computer repair, but was too disabled to become proficient enough to earn money from them.  I later learned medical transcription.  Though I was good enough at it to work sporadically in clinical transcription (which was easier than hospital work) I had a very hard time on jobs and got fired for making errors and having difficulty getting along with management and sometimes co-workers.  I was able to do one job where I transcribed discharge summaries and history and physicals and consultations, but not usually operative reports, which makes up the bulk of hospital transcription for more than nine years.  I only retired when I got fired from two jobs after this one ended. To imply that I did not try my best is an outrage.

One other man with autism I know tried to work and was fired from a variety of jobs.  He finally had a job at a Home Depot where he had to transport shopping carts back and forth and was fired for doing this with a water bottle in his hand.  They probably did not like his loud voice and hyperactive movements.  Another individual with a math degree I know tried to become an insurance actuary and failed the exam twice.  He later enrolled in a masters degree program hoping to get a job teaching math in a community college.  He was so stressed by the workload he had to drop out after half a semester.

One of the most interesting stories is someone I know worked at Mindspark, one of those companies that you hear so much about in the media that teaches autistic people to be software testers because of their alleged attention to detail.  After working there for a year as an apprentice tester, he was not promoted to an analyst tester and was fired because he had not learned the job fast enough.

I just want to say I believe Grandin should not be so arrogant and insensitive to the fact that very few autistics function at her level and most of them are not going to be able to go out and work very easily.

Since Sandison is extolling her virtues in his article, I can come to the conclusion that he echoes her sentiments and believes that I and other autistic people are lazy loafers who are not trying our best.This is interesting given the fact that Sandison did such a lackadaisical job of proofreading his own writing by spelling manners as manors, omitting commas where they are supposed to go and writing In her message she continually stressed that (in)individuals with autism, academic skills will be uneven.where he omits the word 'in' where it is supposed to go that I pointed out in the paranthesis

Mr. Sandison if you happen to read this I want to say that you should not be implying that I and others on the spectrum who can't be professors or work with psychiatric patients and get married and have a child are lazy because we are much more severely autistic than you are.  I also don't think you should be implying that I and others are lazy loafers when you are too lazy to even proofread your own writing and take pride in it.  Since you're a theologian, I'll remind you of the words of Christ: Only those without sin should cast the first stone.

Addendum: I see since I wrote this blog post that Autism Speaks has has gotten into the act and published Sandison's post as a guest blog. So all the things I've said in this post about Grandin and Sandison go for them too.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Possible Autistic board members and/or advisors for Autism Speaks or alternative organization

In the past, one of the chief complaints directed against Autism Speaks was the fact that they had no persons on the autism spectrum as members of their board of directors or in any positions of power in their organization.  After years of not responding to the criticism and inquiries, they finally addressed the issue by putting John Elder Robison on their scientific advisory board along with 30 something parents and scientists.  It did not matter that the other members were physicians or Ph.D. scientists and Robison was a high school dropout with no knowledge of autism science and whose only qualification was that he was well known, having written a best selling memoir about his experiences growing up with Asperger's syndrome.  They also approached Stephen Shore, a well-known spectrumite with a doctorate in special education.  Shore is also a very prolific conference presenter, giving over 100 conference presentations in a year in all four corners of the earth.  Shore scorned their offer (though I don't know which specific position they offered him) stating that he did not want to work with autism speaks until the organization changed its philosophical goals and became more to his liking.

     As most remember, Suzanne Wright leveled some very harsh rhetoric about the disabling aspects of autism and Robison did not like this and resigned from the science board.  Autism speaks went from having one person on the spectrum in their organization in an advisory position to none.

     A couple of years later, the Los Angeles Times published a scathing editorial by journalist and Neurotribes author Steve Silberman criticizing Autism Speaks for a variety of things and for not having any autistics on their board of directors or in positions of power.  He wrote the absolutely ludicrous analogy between Autism Speaks lack of board members on the spectrum with the NAACP being run by white people and not having any blacks in positions of power.  It should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that people have autism during childhood and parents take an interest in the welfare of their children, so it makes sense that parents would be on board of directorships and people who are qualified as scientists are the best to be on scientific advisory boards.  Just as there are no students on at least most municipal boards of education, even though they are the ones who are the consumers.
     Though the timing may have been a coincidence, not long after Silberman's piece, Autism Speaks reversed its mission statement saying that cure and prevention were no longer part of their goals.  This lead Steve Shore to regard autism speaks as a safe haven and he accepted a position on the board of directors.  Valerie Paradiz was the second autistic person to be appointed to the board.

If having autistic board members is necessary or desirable, do Autism Speaks' representatives fit the bill of good board members or people who are representative of the autistic population? 

Though Robison had behavioral problems growing up and had therapy and special education as a child and had academic problems that lead him to drop out of school, the rest of his life seems fairly normal.  Robison even stated in an interview with Steve Silberman that he was not a disabled person in spite of having an autism diagnosis.  He was able to make a good living as a self-taught engineer, get married and support a wife and child.  He was also able to write a best selling memoir.  Except for participating in some non-clinical trials of experimental TMS and writing about these, he has expressed no interest in the science side of autism.  In addition to his lack of formal credentials he also wrote about studying geek success as a legitimate scientific endeavor and showed a lack of knowledge of even the laws of basic chance when he wrote that the reason for the 4:1 sex ratios of autism in males versus females was possibly because the first born children of parents of autistics were usually boys and then they stopped having children so the girls would not have a chance of catching up.  He also encouraged autism speaks to fund a media project that involved his own son which seems less than ethical.  He stated on that autism speaks had reimbursed some of his startup costs, accepting money from an organization where he supposedly just had a volunteer position on the science board.  Despite having written this on wrongplanet, he later denied in a comment to me that he'd ever accepted money from autism speaks and that he just paid for some of his son's videos out of his own pocket and then autism speaks later funded them without giving Robison himself money.

Though Steve Shore was diagnosed autistic at a very young age in the sixties, he was so high functioning he never required special education, he was also able to get married and write a memoir and get a doctorate in special education and make a good living as a conference giver and special education professor.  Except for some mild sensory issues, it's not apparent how autism currently affects him or impacts his life.  He has stated that he's opposed to curing autism, he believes that autism should not be regarded as a demon to be slain with scientific research, but rather something that can be remediated with special education and accommodations.  He recently stated autistic weaknesses could be reframed as strengths.  He's always been vague on the details of how this can be done.

Last but not least is Valerie Paradiz who according to one source stated that autism is not a disability but a strength.  Ms. Paradiz also advertised herself as a Ph.D. autism consultant not mentioning that her doctorate was in German literature, something hardly relevant to autism.  She also started a special school for autistics.  Ms. Paradiz was also able to marry, have and support a child and be a college professor and write a memoir about her son.  She was not allegedly diagnosed with autism until age 40 in 2003 many years after she'd written the memoir about her own son Elijah who is on the autism spectrum.  It would seem strange that it would take this many years for her to be diagnosed and she would not suspect she was on the autism spectrum and obtain an evaluation as soon as her own son was diagnosed.

Are these three satisfactory board members who represent the interests of autistic people and who are familiar with the experiences of a typical autistic?  Gadfly does not believe so.

John Robison has criticized me in the past for only being negative on my blog and not presenting positive solutions instead of spending time complaining about him and other individuals with whom I've had disagreements with.  Perhaps John has a valid point, so I'm going to take his advice in this post.

Assuming autism speaks one day returns to their former position and denounces neurodiversity or another alternative organization springs up, does that mean there should be no persons with autism on the board of directors or in positions of power?  There are individuals with autism who don't like the condition and are interested in pursuing treatments and possibly a cure and don't like or agree with neurodiversity, and I'd like to recommend them for the board of a new AS or other group.

I'll start with myself, though I have not had the ability to pursue scientific research let alone be a scientist, I'm very interested in the subject and would like to find the etiology of autism and use this to find treatments.  I spent eight years in special education, have basically not had a girlfriend except for some light dating stuff, and have bad motor coordination problems, and have been fired from 20 jobs.  Though I've done some writing I have not been able to get published except on Exceptional Parents' website and one article in l.a. magazine. 

The best choice hands down is Roger Kulp, an individual well-schooled in the science of autism, particularly the research involving cerebral folate deficiency that Richard Frye, Jill James and Daniel Rossignol pursue.  He's been a beneficiary of that research himself, having gone from special ed student having seizures to being partially recovered from his autism with Leucovorin and other treatments.  He's had his genome sequenced and found mutations.  He spent years in special education, had problems with elopement and nearly hit by cars, and is on SSI and never had a job. 

Yuval Leventhal is also a good choice having had some special education and pursues botox as a treatment for autism.

Old school advocate Tom Mckean who has experience serving on the Autism society of america's board is also a good choice.  He's interested in finding a cure for autism and has been a critic of neurodiversity and self-diagnosis.

Benjamin Alexander is another good choice.  He's a nonverbal individual who uses augmentive communication to express his thoughts and has said he desires a cure.

All of these people have not been able to marry find girlfriends and with the exception of Yuval have either never had a job or have had grave difficulties in working.

What about the female of the species?  I'm repeatedly told by ND that autism is under estimated in girls because they present differently.  Well a young (30 years old) woman who writes under the pen name Gwen Kansen would be excellent for this.  She does not like her autism and wants a cure and though she's had some boyfriends and I believe is currently engaged, she's had trouble holding down jobs.  She also wrote an article critical of the neurodiversity movement.  Of course Gwen might not want to reveal her real name which she might have to do if she were publicly serving on a board. 

     Another female candidate is Sarah Weatherill, a writer in Canada who states that she hates having an autism spectrum condition, wishes for a cure and does not like neurodiversity.  I don't know anything else about her biographical details.  

I believe all these choices for autism speaks or an alternative organization (assuming autism speaks does not change its ways) would be better than the three board members they've already had, but I guess I won't hold my breath. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Neurotribes Author Steve Silberman justifies analogy between autism speaks and nazis on facebook

Over the past six or seven years, since Steve Silberman's successful article in wired magazine and his announcement that he intended to write a book about autism I've had occasion to write some blog posts about the Wired magazine journalist and I've had some interactions with him.  None of them were acrimonious until Steve blocked me on twitter for stating that he and Thomas Armstrong had never been to a special ed school as I had so they did not understand what it was like to be a special education student when he was plugging Dr. Armstrong's book on neurodiversity and special education.

Mr. Silberman has made many statements over the years that I have found terribly offensive.  This includes his use of a favorite neurodiversity parlor trick of comparing autism to homosexuality, stating that autistics have trouble in the workplace because human resource offices don't know how to accommodate person's who can't speak and use keyboards, his comparison of autism versus a non-handicapped person to a windows computer operating system versus a linux or macintosh, and his statement about autistics who are incontinent and engage in self-injury that disability is part of the human experience and we all become diaper wearers eventually.  I could not possibly imagine that Steve could top himself and hit another all time low, but it appears he has.

Before I explain, I'll tell a bit of backstory on this post first.  Steve Silberman and I now have a mutual friend on facebook.  There is a young man on the autism spectrum named Tom Clements who calls himself "the autistic buddha" and has written a book about his experiences with autism and buddhism that will soon be published.  He and I followed each other on twitter.  Though he has somewhat of a neurodiversity perspective on things, we exchanged some friendly tweets and then he friended me on facebook.  I started writing some comments on threads of his.

In the previous post I wrote about the nasty tweets William Shatner recently received, including one in which a certain individual compared the puzzle piece that various autism organizations such as autism speaks, the autism society of America and the NAS in England have used to a nazi swastika.  Tom responded that he found this offensive and I agreed and explained that comparisons between autism speaks and others who wanted to cure autism to nazis were nothing new.  Steve Silberman weighed in in this Facebook post:

You can also see my response below to Silberman.  Though Silberman stated that he thought the comparison between autism speaks and nazis was "overblown" I still find what he wrote offensive.  I thought he'd hit an all time low in his statements about the "head bangers and diaper wearers" but it seems this time Silberman has outdone himself.  If I described what he said someone might accuse me of exaggerating or lying.  There is the old dictum in writing 'show don't tell'.  Well I will let anyone who reads this blog post judge for himself based on the screenshot I've provided showing Silberman's comment on FB.  Whether Silberman said or did anything wrong or if this facebook post is inappropriate, but I believe he was justifying the analogy between autism speaks and nazis and by extension anyone else, such as myself, who desires a cure for autism since in the past Autism speaks wanted to cure autism and some in neurodiversity have equated a cure for autism to eugenics.  Silberman seems to think we're a bunch of eugenicists who were inspired by the early history of eugenics in the united states in which people of color or handicapped people were murdered and who the nazis then used during world war II.

As in my response, I found this amusing or at least strange that someone who glorified Hans Asperger, which evidence suggests may have been a nazi war criminal who sent an innocent handicapped girl to her death and who vilified Leo Kanner who saved a multitude of Jewish lives during the holocaust would write something like this on facebook.  I'm still curious if Silberman interviewed Herwig Czech who brought these allegations about Asperger to attention and whom John Donvan and Caren Zucker wrote about in their book "In a Different Key"after "Neurotribes" was published.  I seem to remember that Silberman stated that he had tried to interview Czech but he would not given him access to the info about Asperger.  I'm still curious why Donvan and Zucker were able to get this information and he wasn't.  I guess it will remain a mystery.

Again, if someone thinks I'm overreacting to what Silberman said, I guess they can judge for themselves and read the exchange Tom, Silberman, and I had on facebook. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

William Shatner does not suffer Ari Ne'eman and Neurodiversity gladly

The neurodiversity  movement and ASAN  spend a great deal of their time harassing people who support autism speaks in any way, claiming that a cure for autism is wrong and the organization they loathe so much is interested in eugenically eliminating autistic people.  This is despite the fact that Autism Speaks changed their mission statements cutting the words 'cure' and 'prevention' and 'global health crisis.  

They go to autism speaks walks and harass parents who walk for this organization and try to tell them why they should not donate to the organization.  They particularly like to harass any high profile celebrity who might support autism speaks as they did to Jerry Seinfeld some years ago when he was set to perform for an autism speaks event.

A new target has recently entered their crosshairs.  William Shatner is a renowned actor who played Captain Kirk in the television series Star Trek in the sixties and played policeman TJ Hooker in the eighties.  He recently incurred the wrath of Ari Ne'eman and some other members of the neurodiversity movement when he had the chutzpah to post a light it up blue logo for autism awareness month on his twitter, account showing support for autism speaks.  However, Mr. Shatner appears to be a celebrity who does not suffer Ari Ne'eman and other members of the ND movement gladly.

After Shatner posted the icon one young woman had this to say:
Another tweeter calling himself latino sci fi geek had these words of wisdom:

Another person calling herself protect sebastian wrote a tweet that I have not been able to access calling Shatner a "human shit stain" for daring to support autism speaks.  You can go to Shatner's twitter account where he has a screen shot of it to see

There was more tempered rhetoric from a few other neurodiversity proponents, and Shatner tried to answer them back stating that if they believed autism speaks was a hate group they should complain to the IRS.  He also said Latino Sci-Fi geeks analogy was offensive.  He reprimanded Ms. Barnett for her profanity stating he would not have a dialogue with "ms. potty mouth".

This prompted Ari Ne'eman to write the following dishonest tweet on the subject matter:

Understandably, Shatner was offended by Ne'eman's misrepresentation of the facts.  He only said he did not appreciate being bullied and sworn at and people comparing autism speaks to the holocaust against jews which is one of neurodiversity's old parlor tricks and blocked Ne'eman on twitter.

Ari Ne'eman did not seem to understand why Shatner would block him and used this as an excuse to claim Shatner was trying to avoid him and his message.  He had abusive comments hurled at him, so if anyone was metaphorically yelling it was neurodiversity hatemongers.

In fact, though Ne'eman falsely accused Shatner of yelling it is the neurodiversity proponents who justify metaphorically yelling to get their way:
Shatner went on to question what neurodiversity was doing and their tactics on twitter.  He also posed the interesting question of whether the autistic self advocacy network should have a 501(c) status based on something I'd never heard of called the 43-86 rule where apparently if a tax exempt organization exists largely to educate persons on a certain issue that they do it in a polite and honest manner.  Shatner posed the question of whether one charity should have as it's goal attacking another charity.  Though he did all this very calmly in spite of some nasty tweets, particularly the downright abusive ones that I've embedded on twitter, Ne'eman still claimed that Shatner was yelling at him and was somehow surprised when Shatner not only blocked him but refused to turn the other cheek.

Neurodiversity blogger Matt Carey, without having read the tweets, wrote a blog post justifying this abusive rhetoric to Shatner, stating it was done with the noble cause of protesting autism speaks.

Steve Silberman also got into the act, according to him the good guys are people who cuss people out who they disagree with, equate them to nazis and lie about the facts.

Shatner had this to tweet in the aftermath:

Yes the former Star Trek actor nailed it.  Ne'eman misrepresents and because this ploy has worked for them in the past, it incites the other ND's to attack Shatner or anyone else who dares disagree with them.

I guess this is how Ne'eman and other ND's got Autism Speaks to change it's mission statement and got the federal government out of the combating autism business.  They've apparently managed to bully and intimidate a good number of people, but Shatner stuck up to them and blocked them and would not tolerate their abuse and Ne'eman's dishonest misrepresentation of the facts.

Mr. Shatner, I know it is highly unlikely you will read this, but in the improbable event that you do, I just want to say I'm an individual with autism and I want to thank you for having the gumption to stand up to neurodiversity and not suffer these fools gladly.