Neurodiversity :Conflict Resolution

I am presently taking care of the medical needs of a close family member in another state. In this regard, I am sorry that I have not been able to keep up with the emails and management of the blog site as best as I could.  However, I have seen the current dialogue as being very productive and would not like the same to die down, not having accomplished much.  In this regard I would like to brainstorm with all of you as to possible measures directed at conflict resolution. The key point is as follows: The number of disparate views and the viceral reaction as to the subject suggests the existance of a problem.  In many similar instances the latter reaction would prompt one to question whether we have a clear understanding of the problem.  Indeed, I have been corrected on some of my assumptions about the Neurodiversity movement. At the same time I have seen posting by members of the Neurodiversity that belive they are disabled (do not consider themselves as normal) and who would like to receive treatment for their disability and would like to promote more research.  I have to deduce that there is also misunderstanding among the Neurodiversity community as to their own basic credos.

There is much to gain by pulling our efforts together. I would like to invite people from the autism community to write their own blogs in a calm fashion, taking one step back and cooling down. Do not take the a priori suposition that people are trying to be difficult. After reading all of our discussion, I know that we are not that far apart. In terms of my own understanding it would help me to know what are the facts, what are the key points of the neurodiversity movement, and how do they differ from initiatives of any other layman support organization. As an example as a member of several of these organization I see they all promote eliminating labels and pejorative terms, publicizing true facts about autism (promoting education), and fighting for their rights. Many people, like myself, have called for a darker side of the movement. The latter belief is based on the possibility that by insiting that the nature of autism falls within normal human variability we may be calling away attention to those who are handicapped by the condition. Would this hamper accessibility to treatment or research?  Is there any truth to this assertion? Is this the credo of only a minority of the Neurodiversity movement or is it a core suposition of the movement? After reading our discussion and personal correspondence with John Robison, I would have to belive that the call for no treatment, no cure, no research is only held by a minority of advocates.

If it is reasonable I would even offer my blog site to publish your essays. Collaboration is much more productive than opposition. Thank you in advance for your collaboration.

11 responses to “Neurodiversity :Conflict Resolution

  1. I see where you’re coming from now. I would definitely like to write an essay about what I like and dislike about neurodiversity’s impact and how it’s affected my life.

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  2. Dr. Casanova, Yesterday, I asked you a question whether the diagnosis of autism could be significantly narrowed and redefined to include only those who present a juxtaposition of developmental disorders in childhood. That would automatically leave the Neurodiversity Movement’s members outside of the autism’s diagnosis, and therefore, without a “cause.” Should I expect in the future that such discrimination will be done by the scientific community?

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    • I am not sure I understand the question. At least within the medical profession autism itself is understood to be a neurodevelopmental disorder. There is evidence from both neuroimaging and postmortem to back this assertion. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. I know from my own email correspondence with John Elder Robison,and from listening to him talk at the IACC,Professor Robison is a voice of reason and sanity in the neurodiversity movement.Possibly a unique and singular voice at that.He obviously understands both the metabolic and immune disorders,as well as the psychiatric disorders that are so prevalent in those at the higher end of the spectrum.He has made comments about the horrible suffering these conditions can cause autistics,that I know I would never hear from the likes of Ari Ne’eman and ASAN,and I commend him for that.

    There is much I disagree with Professor Robison about.Besides the obvious differences in beliefs about neurodiversity,is his repeated statements that you should treat the medical problems,but not the autism.This goes completely against much of what science has found so far.Autism with complex medical issues has been found to be due to any number of causes,usually either autoimmune or metabolic and mitochondrial.Even someone like Professor Robison seems to have a difficult time accepting that what can be diagnosed as autism is often only one presentation of a complex medical condition,and if you treat the medical problems,you are treating the autism at the same time.When the physical health improves,the autism either goes away or improves significantly.

    I have yet to see Professor Robison,or anyone else who believes in neurodiversity,address this very important point.

    Nor have I seen any evidence that there are others in the neurodiversity movement who do not oppose any and all treatment for autism.From everything I have seen so far.I have been led to believe most of those in the neurodiversity,do in fact oppose any science based treatment that would directly impact the autism.

    Dr. Casanova,I think it’s wonderful you are offering to use your blog as a forum to discuss the differences those of us impacted by autism have in regards to neurodiversity.I guess somebody needs to make that first step,but I do believe these differences are too great to reach any real agreements.

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    • Dear Doctor Casanova,

      Thanks for replying my message. I think in pictures and I connect them. That is why language is very challenging for me. And, indeed, I did not formulate the question in the terms I wanted.

      To put it another way, if there is a definition of autism which include among its main characteristic “difficulties in the development of social relationships and communication skills,” then, well, and with due respect, this criterion will increase and multiply the number of the diagnosed autistics to a great percent (I’d say between seventy-five and ninety-five percent) of the general population in United States and the rest of Western civilization. That is ridiculous!

      For it is true that such social deficits (that are characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome) cannot exist except in a culture, and only in a culture created out of the attitudes, beliefs, experience, religion, values, notions of morality and other possessions shared by a group of people in the course of generations. Odd social behaviors (like aloofness, withdrawal from people, lack of attention to and awareness of the feelings of to others) are also common in the population at large, albeit in minimal, subtle forms that cause no alarm or major social problems.

      In my own circle of acquaintances, there are several people, including a young Catholic priest, who exhibit chronic impairment in social relations or speak of their social awkwardness in exactly the same terms that John Elder Robison speaks of his Asperger in his first two books. At elementary school, they were also full of fear, casting furtive glances around them. However, they would not –ever– seek a diagnosis of autism for themselves. They want to remain neurotypical and will not take on the mantle of a special person.

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      • This is the problem with DSM criteria. Screening for diagnosis is based on behavioral criteria, none of which is pathognomonic for autism. Furthermore, all of the criteria for diagnosis may be seen within the normal population and none of them appear to be quantified for a severity dependent measure. A very poor diagnostic scheme per se. Thank you for clarifying your question. I appreciate the explanation.

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      • As an aside, I will be happy to publish a blog detailing your thoughts about neurodiversity, key points of the movement, positive/negative aspects, etc.

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      • Estimada Claudia, querida compatriota, soy cordobés viví en La Banda y de hecho uno de mis hijos es Santiageño, conozco e imagino como fue tu “padecer diagnóstico”, Manuel Casanova es una persona de sumo profesionalismo y conocimiento del tema, con gran apertura y en quien vas a encontrar una respuesta honesta. Te ofrezco mi correo si quieres compartir inquietudes, experiencias o preguntas. No soy el sujeto de las respuestas, pero podemos construir algo juntos. Un Abrazo.
        autismocba@gmail.com

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    • Dear Roger, What does exactly John Elder Robison mean when he said “you should treat the medical problems, but not the autism”? That is confusing. Autism is indeed the medical problem.

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