Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Neurodiversity proponent Nick Walker wants to make me a criminal for my speech.

Nick Walker is a neurodiversity proponent whose profile and exposure has recently been growing.    Mr. Walker, who claims to be on the autism spectrum, has a rather interesting background for an autistic person He's a sixth degree black belt in aikido and owns and operates his own dojo.  He also owns a publishing company and is a college instructor at two colleges.  He has a wife and a daughter.  Though he's written prolifically about neurodiversity, as far as I know, he's never described on what basis he's been diagnosed as autistic (assuming he's not self-diagnosed) or how autism manifests itself in his life.

Mr. Walker has also complained about Temple Grandin and John Elder Robison, referring to them as "tame autistics".  Apparently, they are not strident enough in promoting the neurodiversity movement or adopting a bellicose enough attitude to suit Saint Nick.  Based on some of my behavior on the internet over the years, I don't think he could say that about me.  Though our ideologies are diametrically opposed, I think Walker or anyone else would have a hard time calling me a tame autistic.  If anything, I've been a pretty controversial and wild autistic. 

I recently renewed my interest in Walker as some months ago (though I was not aware of this until recently) he was claiming Autism in a Different Key authors John Donvan and Caren Zucker were in the process of making an anti-neurodiversity documentary.  This was something I'd be interested in seeing.  He warned neurodiversity proponents about this, urging they not consent to be interviewed by the authors as they would present any pro ND in the most unflattering manner possible.  He correctly states that Donvan and Zucker presented Ari Ne'eman in an unfavorable manner in their book.  It could be argued it was well-deserved, and if anything they were being charitable to Ne'eman in not presenting to their readers how truly bad he's been over the years. 

If they're making this documentary, I'm curious why they didn't contact me.  After all, I've had a pretty high profile as an autistic anti ND activist.  I've been profiled in Newsweek, I've been on public radio shows and the Autism Live podcast, presenting this.  Or perhaps Donvan and Walker don't want to get my side of the story, assuming this statement is not a fabrication on Walker's point.  I won't provide the link to it, but the interested reader can certainly find it on YouTube and other places.  I'll be interested to see if this documentary Walker claims is in the works will ever be made.  I guess I'll see it if it is and it's available to me. 

My interest was particularly piqued by some of his writings in a piece titled "five steps toward autism acceptance."  He states: 

Individuals and organizations that speak of autism as a “disease” or “tragedy,” and that talk of “curing” it, should be prosecuted for hate speech and incitement to violence, just as if they were advocating a “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem"

I have repeatedly said that I believe autism is a disease, a tragedy, and I've brooked no quarters in stating that I want to cure it. According to Nick, I should be a criminal and I should be prosecuted and apparently imprisoned.  Apparently, Walker has never heard of something the people who founded this nation more than two hundred years ago wrote called the constitution.  The very first amendment to the constitution gives us the right to free speech.  Apparently Walker would like us to live in stalinist Russia.  As a Jew, I'm also offended that Walker would bring my ethnicity and the holocaust into this. I strongly suspect that Walker is not Jewish unlike myself. 

Walker is certainly not on the fringe of the neurodiversity movement.  His neurocosmopolitan website is frequently quoted by individuals as giving valid information as to what the neurodiversity movement itself is about.  It appears high in the google search on neurodiversity.  

I feel the same way about describing autism as an alternative way of being rather than a disorder or the statement that people who want to cure autism are advocating prenatal abortion and genocide.  But I would never advocate denying an ND proponent their free speech, no matter how vehemently I disagree with them. 

I wonder how long it will be before Walker is appointed as an autistic member of the IACC.  How long will it be before Autism Speaks has some involvement with him or maybe appoints him to their Board of Directors?  Will the Autism Society of America have him as a keynote speaker at one of their national conferences?  I wonder when I'll be imprisoned for stating my beliefs about autism because it's hate speech and I'm inciting violence.  The way things are going in the autism world, it might not be a long way off. 


Yuval said...

It seems that in the description of this video, Walker only calls the film anti-neurodiversity because he claims that Donvan and Zucker are anti-neurodiversity, even though that's not true.

I find it interesting that Walker wants to criminalize the idea that autism should be cured, because I studied Aikido for a couple years and one of the key principles is "self-control", which doesn't involve banning dissenting opinions.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind people not wanting treatment for something if they are highly-functioning and mildly affected. I have several abnormalities in my neural functioning, some of them impair my life (and I'm in treatment for them), other do not (and I don't mind being this way).It should be someone's choice to define themselves as 'ill' or 'neurodivergent' as it depends on the severity of their state and the amount of disadvantages it gives.

What I do not understand about people preaching neurodiversity is why are they so aggressive towards anyone who wants a treatment? Why is someone wanting to function better any of their business?

Comparing treating autism to Holocaust is kind of like comparing treating any somatic illness to Holocaust. Maybe we shouldn't treat cancer because that's natural way of being for some people, and killing of their own cancerous cells is an act of oppression. Nobody speaks of killing autistic people or forcing anything upon them.

jonathan said...

Well, one of the problems with that is that children or people under a conservatorship would not be given a choice. Neurodiversity proponents complain about that. As far as adults not under guardianship, if they have Asperger's or whatever, fine, let them be that way if they want. But they don't have the right to tell me or other people how they should feel and they certainly don't have the right to say I should be a criminal for expressing my free speech the way Nick Walker does.

AutisticSince1957 said...

Hate speech is protected speech. Hate speech laws are unconstitutional. SCOTUS said so unanimously just last year.

Anonymous said...

Do these neuro-"diversity" people have anything good to say about people with Down's Syndrome, William's Syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, bipolar disorder, depression, etc. or is their idea of "diversity" nothing but a monolith with everyone in it being just like them?

jonathan said...

No, I think they include those conditions you named also.

Unknown said...

Nick Walker should be prosecuted for attempting to infringe on the rights of people’s freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

(I'm only posting here because this article happens to be the rebuttal side of a debate. Also, I'm using Nick Walker's vocabulary because I can't find other words for it.)

The funny (and disturbing) thing is that anti-neurodiversity advocates use pathology paradigm arguments and read their opponents’ writings with a pathology paradigm framework and viewpoint, and, you’ve guessed it, neurodiversity advocates use neurodiversity paradigm arguments and read their opponents’ writings from a neurodiversity paradigm framework and viewpoint. Really, incompatible.

For example, requiring an autism diagnosis is a pathology paradigm argument. Not requiring an autism diagnosis is a neurodiversity paradigm argument. How could this lead to a meaningful debate?

(For people reading this, you still have the right to freedom of speech... which is also controversial. Both paradigms have their own interpretation of 'freedom of speech' and 'hate speech'.)

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, if you are self-diagnosed or weren't diagnosed until long after toddlerhood, you have a very mild form of autism. You don't have any room to criticize people with severe autism and their caregivers.

AutisticSince1957 said...

aluduke: Not necessarily so. Very late diagnosis means the person was not recognized or misdiagnosed. I was diagnosed at age 55. The public school that threw me out after 2nd grade did not think I was "very mild".

I agree that my experience and that of a severe autistic are quite different. It is a large difference in the severity of traits/symptoms, not the symptoms themselves. The gap between me and a severe autistic is large but not as large as between an NT caregiver and a severe autistic so why do they "have room" to discuss how to deal with an autistic child and I don't?

That all said free speech is free speech and one does not like it one might be happier to almost any other country because the USA has much fewer restrictions on it than almost anywhere else.

I wholeheartedly agree the "Nazi" slur is way overused not by just ND supporters but by nearly everybody.