I have been surprised at the attention received by my last blog. I was bedridden with post-flu vertigo while writing the same. The inordinate time that I had to write a few simple sentences probably accounts for why I overcooked the same with literary hyperboles. Despite its flaws it was well received by several hundred Facebook likes. I had introduced the argument for the same in a previous blog (see http://bit.ly/1AqaYjQ). My personal opinion being that autism does not fall into the normal spectrum of variability but rather is a health-related condition. In other words, autism does not belong in the social sciences but in the medical sciences. In this regard I apologize if I offend the sensibilities of some of the readers. However, contrary to some proponents of the neurodiversity movement I stress the need, in many cases, for medical treatment and much more research. Seizures, mood disorders, and sensory abnormalities may handicap some individuals with ASD and they need all of the help/support that we can give them.
I was misinformed in several points in my previous blog. I thought, from my own readings, that one of the tenets of the neurodiversity movement was avoiding the use of pejorative medical verbiage. Steve Silberman was kind enough to point to me that, “…while some neurodiversity activists have adopted the rhetoric of the antipsychiatry movement, my own research shows the roots of the movement to have been in the attempt to build a bridge between the autistic community and the broader cross-disability rights movement. Thus when you say “neurodiversity had initially the good intention of avoiding terms with negative connotations (e.g., disorder, disability),” that strikes me as precisely wrong. It was the “Aspie supremacy” movement (which was basically a brief Internet fad, in fact at odds with neurodiversity because it further stigmatized or ignored people with ID etc.) that shunned the term “disability.” Meanwhile, the people who came up with the concept of neurodiversity (including Judy Singer) embraced the term disability in a social justice (rather than a medical) context… it’s a crucial distinction”.
I am looking at the ongoing debate as something necessary; an opportunity to vent from the different silos within the autism community. There is a lot of misunderstanding on both sides of the argument. Many neurodiversity proponents as well as those outside of the movement share the same empathy towards the plight of many autistic individuals. We all share a common humanity. For those interested, Damian Milton wrote an interesting WordPress blog on this subject entitled “107 Days of Action” (see http://bit.ly/1tNCOY7). Damian is an academician himself diagnosed within the spectrum. He emphasizes in his writing how labels can be offensive and the need for acceptance. I would also like to direct the attention of the reader to another blog on subject, this one written by Paul Isaacs (see http://bit.ly/1AqU053). Paul is a role model for others within the spectrum. I have written a review of his first book and I continue to be amazed by his insights, knowledge, and productivity. According to Paul empowerment is gained by listening to everyone on the spectrum. “The only way to break down stereotypes [is to] give other people the chance to express their realities”. Hopefully people reading these blogs will find it an edifying experience born from constructive dialogue.