Showing 47 of 47 comments.
Hi Pot, nice to meet you. My name is Kettle.
Brett – https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/black-or-white
Because you believe that any difference from the norm is an illness, injury, or otherwise unfortunate does not make it so, nor does that make it the definition of the word.
I did write a rebuttal, and posted it in the comments.
Tag yourself I’m “an environmental insult.”
Brett: Isn’t “neurodiversity” an example of biomedical language? No. It is not.
The solution you have proposed is to continue providing Mad In America with free content.
Now, because I truly give far too much benefit of the doubt and far too many assumptions of good faith, I’ll explain bit by bit everything wrong with this article. This way, the publishing staff have no choice but to either say they do not read the comments, assume willful ignorance, or understand why publishing the article was a mistake, from not only an ethical point of view but also due to the article being poorly researched and poorly written.
1. The title
Neurodiversity is the diversity of human brains and minds. Neurodiversity will continue to exist as long as there are two humans alive in two bodies.
If you meant the neurodiversity *movement*, first of all you should actually say that, and second, someone disagreeing with the tenets of a movement doesn’t mean the movement is “dead”.
2. Being removed from an online group is not “bullying” . If you enter a Facebook group made for Autistic people to celebrate autism, and share your writings on why being Autistic is bad and wrong, of course you are going to be removed.
Make a group called “I hate being autistic” or something and maybe you’ll find people whose views are more aligned with your own.
3. The first paragraph defining the neurodiversity movement is actually a decent description, but the second (beginning with “in reality”) is full of factual errors and flimsy straw man arguments.
Every neurodiversity activist I know of recognizes that neurodivergent people face challenges, discrimination, and disability.
We don’t assert that being neurodivergent is inherently good, just that it’s *not* inherently bad as psychiatry claims.
4. Building an intentional community and movement around a set of core values isn’t groupthink, it’s called… a movement.
If you actually spent a reasonable amount of time engaging in constructive conversation in neurodiversity movement spaces, rather than just joining Autistic groups and getting banned for hate speech, you would notice that we disagree with each other all the time, as people in every social movement do.
5. Of course the neurodiversity movement is going to exclude from leadership anyone who doesn’t think neurodiversity should be accepted. Again, it’s a movement with core values.
Is Black Lives Matter engaging in “groupthink” by not allowing white supremacists into their planning meetings? Are LGBT centers “censoring” homophobes?
Is Mad In America committing an act of atrocity every time a psychiatrist is rejected from publication for saying that all drugs are great and psychiatry has nothing bad to criticize?
6. The author conflates all activities within an Autistic support group / safe space as representing activist action in the neurodiversity movement.
One gets removed from a movement for espousing beliefs that directly contradict the core values of the movement.
One gets removed from a support group for telling group members that they should kill themselves.
One gets removed from both for being a stalker.
7. “A cornerstone of the neurodiversity movement is the assertion that autism is exclusively a genetic condition.” False. This is simply false! The author clearly did not bother to do any research on how members of this movement actually define it, which makes the entire article a straw man fallacy.
There is no tenet of the neurodiversity movement that cares at all about the origins of those differences constructed as madness or neurodivergence. Especially not one that singles out autism. Perhaps you are confusing neurodiversity and autism again?
8. Asperger syndrome is just another name for autism, like couch and sofa or fiddle and violin. The people who coined the term specifically designed it that way.
You can’t “regress” from one to the other, because they’re the same thing. “Levels” are overly simplistic and pathologizing.
And if you disagree with that because it’s the way DSM describes autism, then I feel obligated to ask (1) what are you doing on Mad In America if you take the DSM as gospel, and (2) are you aware that the DSM is a glorified insurance manual?
9. The author mentions being unable to speak, unable to read, unable to write, and lacking social skills. None of these are characteristics of autism.
10. The author does not understand the definition of the word “fact” but uses it anyway. Drexel Autism Institute is neither reliable nor a factual source.
11. Neurodiversity is based on Steve Silberman’s writings? That’s the most ridiculous misinterpretation I’ve ever heard! Most of us don’t even like the guy!
He wrote one book two decades after the movement started, a book which happened to have “neurodiversity” in the title and sell well. A father of the movement, that does not make.
12. In her criticism of “combining” Asperger’s and autism, the author demonstrates exactly the problem with separating them, by asserting a position of inherent supremacy of people with one label over people with the other.
13. The author asserts an “increased autism rate” which no study in any country has ever demonstrated to exist.
14. The neurodiversity movement does not insist on identify-first language for every neurotype. Again the author is confused between the Autistic community and the neurodiversity movement.
15. The author completely misrepresents the reason for Autistic-first language, despite the fact that it has been written about extensively by many writers.
The problem with “person with autism” is that it was intentionally engineered to be similar to phrasing such as “person with cancer” and imply that being Autistic is a horrible disease that one must be cured of.
16. In header #5, the author suddenly argues for an entire new philosophical framework for understanding human existence, a framework which was not rhetorically justified in the piece, does not relate to the theme of the piece, and does not refute any tenet of the neurodiversity movement the author is arguing against.
17. The neurodiversity movement does have a lot of white people, but we are aware and actively working to prop up leading voices who are people of color such as Kassiane Asasumasu, Nick Walker, Lydia Brown and myself.
18. Asserting that Somali languages did not have a word for autism because no one was Autistic is as logically sound as asserting that there were no gay people in the world until 1869.
19. Under the same header in which the author criticizes the neurodiversity for being too white and therefore racist, she also claims that people of African ancestry have a genetic racial health inferiority to whites.
20. At the point the author labels autistic groupthink as narcissistic, she has neither defined autistic groupthink, nor demonstrated that it exists, nor argued that being narcissistic is a bad thing.
21. I have never witnessed any Autistic person asserting that sensory overload is the only possible cause of a meltdown.
22. Migraines are not autism. I have no issue with anyone “recovering” in the sense that they do not have migraines any more. Calling migraines migraines may even help you get better medical treatment.
23. No one with even a cursory familiarity with the Deaf community would describe the conversation about cochlear implants in such simplistic terms.
24. No neurodiversity activist wishes to increase pollution, poisoning or anything of the sort. In fact, we fight to protect the civil rights of people who have acquired a disability that way.
25. The author suggests that we “balance promotion of our talents and skills with honest acknowledgements of our environmentally induced challenges.” The neurodiversity movement already acknowledges both using the social model of disability.
26. The author advocates that a class of people should be “prevented”. This is blatant hate speech.
27. “Healing” is proposed as a remedy for disability. That is not how disability works.
28. Author contrasts herself as an assimilationist against the separatism of the neurodiversity movement, which is not a separatist movement.
29. Author contrasts herself as advocating for Mad/Neurodivergent people to be recognized as beautiful, complex, worthy of love, and entitled to community inclusion. These are all examples of changes that the neurodiversity movement has specifically advocated for.
30. Footnote citation is attributed to E. Fuller Torrey, founder of the hate group Treatment Advocacy Center. Neither a factual source nor a reliable one.
Frank, you fundamentally misunderstand. I am not emotional, triggered, or anything of the sort. Those who have expressed a similar perspective to mine don’t appear to be coming from a place of emotion either.
I am not criticizing this article because “it makes me angry”, I am disappointed in Mad In America for undermining its own credibility, which will have measurable consequences hindering our ability to fight back against forced psychiatry. My credibility is under threat for being published here, as is the whole field of Mad Studies, becaue anyone who criticizes a citation by saying “that source also publishes pseudoscience and hate speech” they will be correct.
The word “disappointing” is insufficient to describe this article. I began writing for Mad In America with the belief and hope that those occasional “antidepressants cause autism” articles were misguided attempts at finding an alternative framework to that of mainstream of psychiatry. I was convinced that the staff (and community) merely needed to be educated about the perspectives of the Autistic community and the broader neurodiversity movement, that if I made efforts to bring up neurodiversity in multiple articles, that over time a mutual understanding can be reached.
I am now convinced that I was wrong about trying to engage with Mad In America, because no such change is possible at this time. By choosing to publish this manifesto of targeted bigotry, the chief editor has demonstrated a hostility not only to the Autistic community but to the entire neurodiversity movement. The message promoted here is that our existence is wrong and any opinion to the contrary will be matched with an equal or greater inclusion of additional hate speech against us.
There is nothing scientific, critical of psychiatry or the drug-based paradigm, or relevant to social justice in this article. It is a manifesto of hate speech against the Autistic community. The decision to publish it demonstrates that the person or people who made that decision are either as unscrupulous as The Mighty and will just publish anything, or themselves hate Autistic people.
April is Autism Acceptance Month, also knows as “awareness” month, also known as Hell Month. We are already inundated with messages that we are burdens, that we shouldn’t be the way we are, that our existence is a medical condition in need of a cure. If you don’t receive much more of this backlash, I propose that Autistic people are too busy fighting other fights. And besides, this article doesn’t offer anything in the way of a new perspective we haven’t heard a thousand times before.
This article warrants an official editorial retraction and apology, though I have no confidence that such an action will be taken. Until it is, I see no purpose in continuing to provide free content Mad In America or increase its web traffic.
I wouldn’t define autism. I can’t because I am only 1ish Autistic people. If you want to understand autism, you need to spend more time around Autistic people.
This article in a nutshell: “Autism doesn’t exist because it was discovered by scientists and science is bad and can’t account for individual subjective experience. Also, where’s the evidence? I need objective science to tell me that something exists before I can believe in it, because I don’t like science. Also, the merger of Asperger Syndrome into the autism spectrum is the fault of the person who created Asperger Syndrome in the first place and separated it from autism. I make perfect sense.”
Intentional Peer Support, Emotional CPR, and especially Alternatives to Suicide are wonderful programs that work towards training people out of the knee-jerk reaction to send people into the system against their will, assume the professionals know what they’re doing and wash their hands of it. They bring the conversation back to friendship, mutual aid and common sense.
My criticism is not of the programs, but of the environment that requires them to exist in the first place. Essentially they boil down to “don’t do Mental Health First Aid” or “don’t call the police” and the rest is just fluff to make them sound more like something social workers might accept into their existing paradigm. IPS, eCPR and Alternatives to Suicide are good tools for mitigating a big problem, but I long for the day they become unnecessary.
As for Open Dialogue, I have some reservations. Namely the idea of group decision making. It’s better than unilateral decisions by a parent or psychiatrist, but ultimately the person who’s going to be affected by the decision should be the one making them, and not need anyone else’s approval. It immediately reminds me of the IEP system in U.S. schools, where the family receives notice that “the IEP team has decided” something when the family is supposed to be part of that team. The target person in Open Dialogue has the right not to participate, but all that means is decisions being made without them even in the room. And all of this was pioneered as a way to “treat” hearing voices, which doesn’t need “treatment” in the first place.
Neurodiversity as a term is neither vague nor undefined. You must be thinking of mental illness.
Neurodiversity refers to the infinite variations of human minds, personalities, consciousness, and cognitive styles. This is apparent if you read the works of early and revered movement thinkers such as Nick Walker, Kassiane Asasumasu, Amy Sequenzia, and Lydia Brown.
It doesn’t imply “neurological impairment” either. It actually implies “neurological diversity”, hence the name.
I think we’re in agreement on intersectionalism. It’s a good concept but it seems like no one who uses the term actually follows the principles it’s supposed to represent. Or rather they follow the principles for intersecting gay, women’s, and racial issues, but make exceptions for young, disabled, Mad and neurodivergent people.
As for Mad Studies, the idea that Mad and ” mentally ill” are synonymous is exactly why we need Mad Studies. The history of Mad Pride is one of reclamation, of people saying that if being authentic about our emotions is madness, if hearing voices is madness, if not buying into the state religion is madness, then by god I’m Mad, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I am Mad. I am Neurodivergent. And no one can take that away from me.
I really appreciate your engaging with the material. This is exactly the sort of back-and-forth I was hoping the article would inspire.
I’m especially curious about your proposal to abolish psychiatry but not the mental health system. To me, these seem like two words for the same thing. What exactly do you consider to be the difference between the two?
In #2, my point is not to *wait* until we’ve removed the psychiatry programs. I would LOVE to see a Mad studies major at every university. All I’m arguing is that until the psychiatry programs are gone, we haven’t completely overthrown the system. Adding more good information can certainly be a strategy for combating bad information.
I could get on board with eliminating crisis hotlines. I wouldn’t go as far as a legal ban, but I would love to see a culture shift where people stop thinking of hotlines as an adequate replacement for friendship, human compassion and mutual aid.
I previously wrote on my personal blog, in an article about 13 Reasons Why:
“I don’t believe that this was an oversight. I believe it was a deliberate choice, because promoting suicide hotlines would undermine the central message of the show.
“The real reason people get uncomfortable with the lack of resources is not moral outrage at irresponsible triggering, it’s because they are yet again trying to find a way to make suicide the sole responsibility of the suicidal person and not anyone else. If calling a stranger on the phone is a magic pill to cure suicide, then every death is the fault of the dead person for not reaching out. By not inviting this supposed solution into the show, it was not invited into the conversation. The focus is kept instead on other people’s responsibility in causation or prevention.”
Do you believe that it is inherently good to be fat, inherently bad to be fat, or neither inherently good nor inherently bad to be fat?
Yes, many psychiatric drugs cause fat-based weight gain, but is that a problem? Either you have an arbitrary hatred of fat people, or we agree that the problem is still that people are given drugs without informed consent.
YetAnotherAccount – Do you know what BMI is?
Why does MIA content suddenly become shit tier as soon as the term “ADHD” or autism appears?
Voice hearers have a eugenicist, nutritionist parent network too, yet you don’t unscrupulously pander to that one. Why is that?
Yeah, I get it, we’re throwing pseudoscience at the wall to see what sticks. You made that very clear in the article itself.
Ableism, the idea that some people are inherently more or less deserving of autonomy because their bodies or brains are inherently better or worse, is the foundational oppressive framework upholding all the other oppressions. Psychiatry isn’t misogyny and misogyny isn’t psychiatry, but they’re both ableism. They both operate under the assumption that female minds need to be “fixed” because they are inferior to male minds. The targeted categories we focus on may not be the same, but they will always be linked by ableism. That is the kind of intersectionality we need to recognize and practice.
This is what I hope we accomplish with Southern California Against Forced Treatment. A conference is a lot of work, but we can start by building up a close-knit core group, and use existing conferences like Western Recovery and Models of Pride as opportunities for recruitment.
I did have an opportunity at Alternatives to present to a room of about 30 people about my favorite interventions being “peer respites, eCPR, and doing nothing.” Plant the seed and hope it grows.
Thank you so much for writing this. I had planned to submit a newcomer’s perspective on the two conferences this past week, and now I doubt how necessary that is.
Responding to your fundamental critique of conferences, I think a paradox befalls us, which is that the people who are analytical enough to recognize the problem are also the type to do a lot of talking and not so much mobilizing.
When we do succeed in mobilization, as in the example of removing homosexuality disorder from government regulations, it often comes from a place of narrow self-interest without the intersectionality or solidarity you’ve described. The gay community got what they wanted, and dropped out of the fight. Even as their close relatives transgender and asexual remain as mental disorders in that same regulatory manual. I fear that is the direction the anti-psychiatry movement is headed. Actually, I see that as where we already are, and I fear that we will never grow out of it.
Our movement should be structed like a cloud but instead it is more like a tree, with little communication between the branches. Autistic people are saying autism isn’t a disorder; voice hearers are saying schizophrenia isn’t a disorder; transgender and asexual people don’t even realize that they’re part of this; people with physical disabilities proclaim “but our minds are fine.” Not nearly enough people recognize that the fundamental problems are human rights violations, force and coercion, and that we’re all in this together.
Well said. Thanks for sharing.
Are the problems caused by screen exposure short-term problems, allowing quick recovery, or are they “rest of your life” problems that you never recover from? Those two things can’t both be true.
Too much of anything can be harmful. And I do mean anything. A few months ago I staged a protest against a hate group selling hyperbaric oxygen chambers as a miracle for cure for various ailments and non-ailments, because it’s not only snake oil but dangerous snake oil. The procedure delivers, demonstrably, medically, too much oxygen.
While I can technically concede the point that there is such a thing as too much screen use, I still have to retort with the question of why we are focused on screens? No parents are expressing concern over too much paper time, or too many books, or any other arbitrarily limited learning tool. And yet there is a much stronger body of evidence than there is on screen time, pointing to harmful effects of excessively prescribed homework.
Children and consent together always make a nuanced issue, but we can at least ask if the intervention is being done for the benefit of the child, or the convenience of the parents. If the goal of the intervention is make a child not Autistic any more, or not display observable behavior that overlaps with autism, then it is certainly only for the convenience of the parents.
I am aware that some of the writing styles I choose are provocative, however I don’t agree that the views themselves are. At least not in this context. The mission of Mad In America is (paraphrased) to challenge the dominant paradigm of psychiatric care. Attempting to “cure autism” because well, that’s the label you’ve been given and it’s a mental illness so we better get rid of it, does nothing of the sort. As one Facebook commenter pointed out, there is nothing scientific nor social justice in this article, and the part that is psychiatric is pro-psychiatry. All we’ve accomplished here is continuing to alienate Autistic people from the Mad community, keeping the world less safe for both Autistic people and Mad people.
Anna Freud was wrong, and I think you are making a mistake by quoting her. All Autistic children can play and the vast majority do. However, intensive therapies such as ABA (Autistic conversion therapy) may use selective punishments to condition a child into neglecting their own need to play. That might be the pattern you observed.
Eye contact is part of neurotypical child development. That says nothing about whether it’s “healthy.” and if you’re going to keep using that word, please provide a definition of it.
This article isn’t even really *about* autism, the author is just using Autistic children as punching bags because that’s how casually the Mad community throws us under the bus. But the main point is that technology is scary and we should all be Amish. “Screens cause autism” is just this week’s variation of “screens are bad because the old man who yells at cloud is scared.” This is the same fearmongering bullshit people used to say about the radio, and before that, books with pictures in them, and before that, regular ass BOOKS. People like you have been wrong about the same thing for CENTURIES. New technologies cause change. GET OVER IT.
Nature invented autism, Bleuler named it, Kanner misinterpreted it.
I’m not sure I’ll catch everything that’s wrong with this article, but I can try.
1. The increasing trend of Autistic people being identified as such is in no way “explosive” this is fearmongering.
2. There is no reason to say Autism Spectrum Disorder, just “autism” will suffice.
3. There are zero autism diagnoses. You cannot “diagnose” something that is not a medical condition.
4. ASD is just the medicalized name for autism there is no need to present autism and ASD as two separate options.
5. Autistic people generally benefit from BEING exposed to screens. You are advocating against accommodations at best and for active child abuse at worst.
6. How much screen time is “too much”? You can ask 100 parents and get 100 different answers. Clarifications, people, they are important.
7. You have used the word “symptoms” without specifying what disease they are a symptom of. If we haven’t verified that there even is a disease, we cannot confidently call them symptoms.
8. While I don’t have access to the abstract, considering the title “How TV, Video, and Toys Cause ASD” I don’t find your first reference to be a credible source.
9. If a child stops being Autistic after a few months of technology deprivation, then they weren’t Autistic in the first place.
10. “autism induced by electronic screens”? That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
11. At first, when reading the title, I thought “virtual autism” meant “non-autism things that look superficially similar to autism and get misdiagnosed”. Now that you have clarified it to mean “autism induced by electronic screens”, I must say you are using the term incorrectly. If that is also what Dr Marius Zamfir meant by “virtual autism”, then he too was using his own term incorrectly.
12. “Romania witnessed an astonishing rise in autism” Citation needed. Ironically that paragraph actually has a citation, but it doesn’t justify the section I’ve quoted.
13. “Children presenting with autism were spending four or more hours a day watching some kind of screen.” The correct conclusion, if we even believe that this evidence is really conclusive, is to say that autism causes screen time.
14. “Today in Romania, treatment of autism by screen withdrawal is considered routine and has public support.” That is horrifying. That is child abuse. That’s not something wrong with the article, but the fact that the article fails to point out the abusiveness is.
15. “startling” more fearmongering.
16. Autism statistics have gone up with the same amount of time delay after each new DSM release. If mental health professionals are still “puzzled”, those professionals are incompetent.
17. Center*S* for Disease Control. That’s a nitpick, but I am going for “everything.”
18. “stark” more fearmongering.
19. Diagnoses aren’t the problem, it’s the “behavioral interventions” that come after.
20. Citing the rising CDC estimate is not only fearmongering, it’s also (21) a cliché.
22. Okay, 1 in 45 children have a cat named Autism that they are living with, but how many children are Autistic?
23. “What is behind the exponential rise in the diagnosis of autism?” Answer: New releases of the DSM. I’ve solved the mystery. No need to write these articles.
24. Non-medical things don’t have “risk factors.”
25. Non-medical things don’t have “symptoms.”
26. Citing psychiatrists as experts on autism is a logical fallacy.
27. “rising tide” fearmongering
28. “Solutions” is literally the word that Nazis used to describe prevention of the Jewish problem.
29. No operational definition provided for the word “benefited”
30. No follow-up period needed one month will suffice. Much peer review. Very science. Wow.
31. No operational definition provided for the word “hindered”
32. No operational definition provided for the word “normal”
33. All language development including that of non-Autistic children has a period where words and their meanings have not yet been connected. For some words this persists into adulthood, as demonstrated by this author’s misuse of the word autism.
34. The second example of echolalia doesn’t support the point made by the first example. This is simply bad writing technique.
35. No operational definition provided for the word “healthy”
36. Considering the amount of media attention bogus autism causes get, I have serious doubts about the study in reference 3 having found the real one.
37. Needing to take a break is not the same thing as addiction.
38. Computers are used more often to create human interactions than to prevent them.
39. If screen time is painful why would children keep doing it?
40. Violent and aggressive behavior is not autism.
41. There’s that “explosion” word again.
42. There’s that “disorder word again.
43. Correlation is not causation.
44. Video game players are not screens they are humans.
45. There is an exponential rise in the author’s use of the word “exploding”
45. Countries that do not have as many screens also do not have as much psychiatric diagnosing this is called a coincidence.
46. Normal normal normal I still have no idea what this word means.
47. Non-medical things don’t have “symptoms.”
48. The word “treated” is correctly put in scare quotes but diagnosis and symptom aren’t please try to be more consistent.
49. There is no such thing as severely Autistic any more than there is severely female.
50. “Intensive play” is an oxymoron.
51. Recovered from what? You can’t recover from autism because it’s not a disease.
52. Old man yells at cloud.
Autism and Asperger syndrome are just two terms that mean the same thing. So people who have been (correctly) labeled with Asperger’s are Autistic. There’s no such thing as high- or low-functioning it’s all just autism. Meeting traditionally recognized milestones of success, such as having a family and a high-paying job, are entirely compatible with being Autistic. That doesn’t mean those people are “less Autistic” than others, and in fact saying it does is quite insulting to both the people who do and don’t meet those milestones.
Medical injuries such as mercury poisoning, which happen to superficially look similar enough to autism to get misdiagnosed, are just that, superficially similar in appearance, while being 100% unequivocally “not autism.”
Failing to reach “social and behavioral developmental stages” is A) pseudoscience, never proven, and B) has nothing to do with autism.
How can there be an epidemic of something that isn’t a disease?
The term was coined by psychiatrists in the 1940s and used very differently from what it means today. It’s sort of like a reclaimed slur.
Your best bet for a basic what is autism explanation is the one on Neurocosmopolitanism: neurocosmopolitanism.com/what-is-autism/
Bus-throwing messages like this are the reason there aren’t Autistic people fighting for the rights of Mad people.
People who were “diagnosed” as homosexual back when DSM 3 was the newest version were undoubtedly harmed by that. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t really gay or that being gay is a bad thing. Same with autism.
Note that the monetary bottom line isn’t necessarily a one to one correlation with “bigness”. Autism Speaks has political and cultural influence for sure, but in a lot of other ways Autism Society is more of a direct comparison to NAMI rather than Autism Speaks. NAMI has local chapters where parents get together in “support” groups to complain about how tragic and burdensome their children are. Autism Society does the same thing. Autism Speaks just swoops in to take your money and is then conspicuouly absent for the other 364 days.
The way I measure success in the fight against Autism Speaks is by the primary activity for which the company exists: Fundraising. in 2014, the first year I came to protest and started tracking the data, their Los Angeles yearly fundraiser swindled over 2 million dollars. Then in 2015 it was a little under 2 million. Then in 2016 they scaled the goal back to 2 million and only stole 1.5. This past April 1.5 million became the goal and they couldn’t even steal that much. These are still HUGE amounts of money that actually Autistic people could be doing actual advocacy with, but that’s just because the fight started with the corporate empire at a huge advantage. The trend is clearly downward.
Last year a guy who looked like a discount Ted Nugent came to our table to yell at us, and took some of our literature to show the event organizers so they can strategize. He then got on the stage and proclaimed “don’t believe everything you read” (including the Autism Speaks website, right?) You know something fishy is going on when a multi-million-dollar corporation PANICS at the sight of a small group of disabled people with flyers.
Regarding normal people, it seems to me there are double standards within double standards. for a neurotypical person, “normal” means be yourself. For an Autistic person, “normal” means a list of a hundred unwritten rules to follow, and if you slip up, there will be consequences. not that there aren’t consquences for deviant neurotypicals too (for example, gay people are mostly considered neurotypical, yet still breaking a rule), but it’s a lot easier to follow the rules when your biology isn’t demanding you do things in ways that fall outside the “normal” range. Autistic people being dog-trained into “normality” isn’t any less oppressive than people with other so-called mental illnesses being medicated into it.
At this year’s fundraisers, they have on their website and T-shirts “powered by love”. I want to barf…
Hijacked and more importantly, monopolized. They want their message to be the only one available, so that no one will challenge the assertions used to sell their product.
So glad to see Mad In America recognizing the natural allies in the Autistic rights movement and the neurodiversity movement! Autism is still considered a “mental illness” in society just as much as people who hear voices or who have extreme states, and these sorts of proclamations are the same result. I’m excited to see our communities collaborating more in the future.
At first I thought this was going in the direction of intersectionality, criticizing people who say things like “I’m Autistic and mentally ill”, applying critical thinking to autism and nothing else, and as a result throwing the Mad community under the bus. That’s exactly the sort of presentation we need to bring into Autistic spaces, such as at the Association for Autistic Community conference, but that’s not this article.
What quickly tipped me off that this was going in the wrong direction was the phrase “more autistic”. I was really hoping the title was ironic. To use such a phrase indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of what autism is. In this case it’s not the “autism=toxins” line of thought but rather looking at someone who’s having fewer meltdowns because their gluten-free diet no longer triggers their celiac disease and describing that as “less autistic”. The problem isn’t that cutting gluten wasn’t beneficial, in fact it WAS- the problem is perpetuating the notion of a linear sliding scale of autisticness, and implying that sliding the scale in one direction is automatically preferable.
The author claims, in a sort of repeated disclaimer-y way, the belief that autism is not inherently bad, yet by conflating disease and injury states with being “more autistic”, asserts the opposite. If “more autism” is intrinsically worse than less autism, then you’re saying autism is intrinsically bad.
I also noticed that the anti-DSM rhetoric is immediately followed by an assumption that meeting more DSM criteria is the same as being “more autistic”. As with the previous observation, this is a clear case of cognitive dissonance. In fact additional marks on the DSM checklist indicate that you are perceived as more broken or more “severely” disabled, not more autistic. If you define “psychotic” as someone who either hears voices or commits murder, then of course serial killers are going to meet the criteria for psychosis, but only because you wrote the definition that way! If the DSM criteria for autism were accurate, then having unrelated microbial issues would have no effect on how psychiatrically autistic you are.
What the teacher did, making ridiculous claims of fearing for her life, was definitely swatting. It’s hard to find a disability rights lawyer, but when I do, that will be one of MANY charges against the school and eighteen (18) of its faculty.
There IS a word, ableism, and it’s been around for decades.
The simplistic definition you give to someone who asks “what does that word mean?” is that it’s like racism or sexism, but instead of race or gender it’s applied to disability. Except “disability” is socially constructed just as much- nay, more so than race, sex, or gender; so if you truly seek a deeper understanding then it inevitably gets more complex.
The foundation of ableism is the belief that some bodies and minds are better than others, and therefore are deserving of more rights. If you think about it, that is also the foundation underlying all the other “isms” too. Racism assumes that white bodies and white minds are better than the rest. Sexism assumes that male bodies are better than female or intersex bodies, that male minds are better than female or nonbinary minds.
I’ve also encountered the terms sanism (from labeling people sane or insane) and neurobigotry (from the people who brought you the words neurotypical, neurominority, etc.) to specify that mental things are the target of discrimination. While that’s a useful distinction, especially around under-the-bus-throwing “our minds are fine” disability advocates, ultimately it still boils down to ableism. The assumption that “sane” and “mentally healthy” are legitimate factual categories, distinct from “insane” and “mentally ill”, is really the same as the assumption that neurotypical minds are better than neurodivergent minds.