Five Years of Autism Activism: Unifying Opposed Viewpoints

by Yuval Levental

 

I started getting involved in autism activism five years ago by writing about autism and neurodiversity, the belief that autism is simply a difference, on Cortical ChauvinismCortical Chauvinism is a blog owned by Dr. Manuel Casanova, a neurologist who researches autism and discusses autism advocacy and neurodiversity.  The world of autism advocacy has rapidly changed from five years ago.  Many people on the autism spectrum are now talking about the challenges that autistic people face, in addition to potential strengths.  There has been a renewed interest in medical research for severe autism, as Autism Speaks decided to eliminate “cure” from its mission statement.  I have kept writing many more articles critical of neurodiversity on Cortical Chauvinism.

Additionally, I have created many new Wikipedia articles featuring individuals and organizations critical of neurodiversity.  I have also successfully deleted several autism articles, most of which promoted facilitated communication, a scientifically discredited communication technique allegedly used by autistic individuals.  Finally, I have been trying experimental medical treatments on myself to lessen the symptoms of autism, and have been recording some of the results.  Some of those treatments were controversial, but my current one, a significant change in diet, seems to be working well.  Eventually, I republished many of these articles I wrote in a book titled The Pursuit of Knowledge (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1098783921).

On January 14, 2015, I published my first article on Cortical Chauvinism, “Visualizing Neurodiversity: Breathing for Treatment”.  I wrote about how I was good at math, science, and technology, and my belief that many people in those fields were on the autism spectrum.  However, the sudden increase in difficulty of those subjects in high school and college and my difficulty in coping led me to question this belief.  Eventually, I discovered an article challenging those beliefs, “Undiagnosing Einstein, Jefferson, and Gates” by Jonathan Mitchell, a controversial autism advocate who supports a cure for autism.  I thought the article made many good points, such as claiming that:

“Not only have persons interested in autism claimed Einstein one of their own but so have persons with an interest in schizophrenia and dyslexia. If Einstein had traits of all three disorders then it would quite interesting that he would be one of the greatest scientists and thinkers of the 20th century in addition to being one of the most afflicted persons in the world.”

I wrote many more articles on different aspects of autism.  For instance, I created and promoted petitions in opposition to the writer Steve Silberman, who downplays the difficulties that autistic people face and exaggerates alleged strengths in Neurotribes, a book that he wrote about autism.  I also wrote about how Autism Speaks took in far less revenue after eliminating “cure” from its mission statement (it seems that unfortunately, its revenue has recently rebounded).  I also wrote book reviews of Defining Autism and Autism Updated, two books about autism written by Dr. Casanova himself.  Those books were very interesting and focused on many aspects of autism (https://corticalchauvinism.com/tag/yuval-levental/).

The first Wikipedia article I created was a page for Jonathan Mitchell, because I really enjoyed his critical views towards neurodiversity.  I also created articles for Thomas A. McKean and David Miedzianik, two autism advocates that emphasized the importance of medical research.  Many people have discovered those pages and found them to be very interesting and useful.  Dr. Casanova already had a Wikipedia page, but I updated it with information about his research and interests.  I also created the article for the National Council on Severe Autism, the first autism organization to focus exclusively on severely autistic individuals.  I saved the “Einstein Syndrome” page from being deleted, which claims that many talented and allegedly autistic individuals may simply be late talkers (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2016/05/02/neurodiversitys-waning-on-wikipedia-bias-and-single-sidedness/).

I also successfully deleted the “Retrospective Diagnoses of Autism” page, which labeled many historical mathematicians, scientists, and other figures as autistic without much justification.  With the help of others, I managed to delete many pages which claimed that nonverbal autistics could eloquently communicate through facilitated communication (FC).  FC is a technique where a facilitator guides the individual’s hand to keys on a keyboard, but scientific research has shown that the individual that is allegedly communicating is actually looking away from the keyboard.  There were many other Wikipedia pages that I created and deleted, but I have covered the main categories (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2019/06/26/a-triple-victory-three-wikipedia-articles-promoting-facilitated-communication-are-deleted/).

Note: At the beginning of my Wikipedia editing, I unjustifiably attempted to delete several articles in support of neurodiversity, which should have not been considered for deletion.  However, what happened was that several neurodiversity members somehow found out about my editing, and attempted to delete or vandalize what I was writing.  Additionally, they were persistent for months and I was getting frustrated, so I wasn’t thinking properly (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/ylevental).  Later on, another member ended up creating more pages in favor of neurodiversity in 2018 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Ysannelo).

The first medical treatment I tried on myself was forehead Botox injections.  This seems like a strange choice, but after reading an article about autism and facial features, I wondered if some of my sensory overstimulation was caused by pressure from my forehead muscle.  I did notice some effects, the most interesting one being that I felt more limited in potential knowledge compared to all that can be known (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2016/10/17/yuval-levental-autism-and-the-pursuit-of-knowledge/).  My real breakthrough came when I found out that I was severely Vitamin D deficient, and started taking supplements (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2018/06/11/yuval-levental-vitamin-d-and-autism/).  Through this process, I realized that constantly thinking about genius is a distraction, and that true geniuses didn’t focus on genius itself.  I realized that this paradox could be possibly explained by the idea of quantum cognition, and wrote why this may be (https://corticalchauvinism.com/2018/06/11/yuval-levental-vitamin-d-and-autism/).

Eventually, after reading Defining Autism by Dr. Casanova, I started to experiment with different diets to reduce my symptoms of autism.  Currently, when I eat wheat products, I will only eat wheat products fermented/leavened for three-four hours.  In my view, this process breaks down phytic acid in wheat, which blocks nutrients absorption, and increases levels of lactic acid, which aid in digestion.  This change in wheat seems to help me focus much better (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sourdough-bread).  Additionally, this process can be applied to any wheat product in a bread machine, which I really enjoy using.

Evidence for supporting this method of bread baking for all people results from comparing differences in health and technology between America and Japan.  The Japanese mostly eat rice, where Americans eat mostly wheat.  Japan has a far lower obesity rate, and has the longest life expectancy.  More effort is put into creating good school lunches in Japan (https://www.asiaone.com/asia/japans-secret-weapon-against-childhood-obesity-school-lunches).  Even Japanese prisoners receive much better food than American prisoners (the crime rate is also really low).

In the 1950s, America was the world’s leader in advanced technology.  Back then, most bread was leavened for much longer than today, which gave America the ability to perform very well.  Japan became the world’s leader in the 1980s.  As Michael Sekora, a physicist said on the economic standing of America and Japan, “What matters ultimately is technology. Japan has continued to perform superlatively on that measure. America’s performance has been disastrous.”  Japan is still the leading nation in silicon purification, microelectronics, and robotics (https://www.forbes.com/sites/eamonnfingleton/2015/11/22/it-is-japan-not-the-u-s-that-leads-in-serious-technology-says-top-reagan-technology-advisor/).

It seems that this change in diet also caused many Americans over time to focus more on political labeling and less on progress, leading to movements like neurodiversity becoming more cult-like.  Fortunately, there is much knowledge that can be discovered to combat this trend in many ways.  Hopefully, if America chooses to eat better bread in the future, people will have a more accurate view of not only autism but the future of our nation.

2 responses to “Five Years of Autism Activism: Unifying Opposed Viewpoints

  1. My American husband is 100% Japanese heritage. He has six siblings who are as slim as their cousins in Japan. All 6 married Americans of European descent. In the 4 families that have more than one child, there are both slim Japanese-shaped offspring and fleshy or overweight offspring built like their European ancesters. To me this is evidence that genetic differences, rather than diet, keep the Japanese slim.

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  2. I believe you are incorrect when you state as facts “…facilitated communication (FC). FC is a technique where a facilitator guides the individual’s hand to keys on a keyboard, but scientific research has shown that the individual that is allegedly communicating is actually looking away from the keyboard.” While scientific research does contest the validity of FC, your facts are especially wrong when you state “a facilitator guides the individual’s hand to keys on a keyboard” which MichaelB describes as “hand-over-hand” which is NEVER done if FC. You can tweet me @atbeyond or email golden.arthur@gmail.com

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