The Washington Times-Herald

Community News Network

January 17, 2013

Slate: Is the neurodiversity movement misrepresenting autism?

(Continued)

I'm not saying it's impossible for nonverbal autistic individuals to communicate using a keyboard. YouTube videos show Carly Fleischmann and Tito Mukhopadhyay typing independently, although the lack of controlled investigation of their abilities, among other red flags, continues to concern skeptics. What I am saying is that a real autism rights movement would recognize that people are truly neurodiverse, with brains of very different levels of functioning, instead of implying that we are all the same, with "intact minds" that just need to be accessed. It would include the needs of the 20 percent of the autistic population that is nonverbal, the 50 percent that is intellectually disabled, and the 30 percent that suffers self-injurious and/or aggressive behavior. As Kolevzon points out, these populations have "tremendous overlap," meaning that there are tens of thousands of individuals who are both nonverbal and intellectually delayed, with dangerous behaviors that, untreated, can prevent them from living at home, going to school, and participating in the community. "Entirely missing here," Warner has written, "is the notion that there is a world of difference between unique personality traits that may be quirky, annoying, or charming, and actual signs of pathology. Or that the difference between personal style and pathology resides in pain, distress, and impairment."

I'd like to believe that those who argue the neurodiversity position do so out of ignorance — and I don't mean that as an insult. Amanda Baggs, Tracy Thresher and others offer a sanitized version of low-functioning autism, which is all the public sees. The kids with the unfortunate trifecta of autism, intellectual disability and dangerous behaviors aren't on TV singing with Katy Perry. They're in one of the 11 inpatient hospital units in this country dedicated to this population (many with waiting lists months long), in residential treatment facilities, or barely managed at home behind closed doors. It's only once you're thrust into this world — as I was, when Jonah broke a teacher's nose when he was in kindergarten — that you see how many there are: kids who have blinded themselves or bruised and concussed their parents and siblings or who spend their days in highly restrictive equipment to keep them from doing so. These children will never write one blog or produce one video. Despite that — or rather, because of that — they couldn't be more convincing. And any portrayal of autism that glosses over their profound disability closes the door on them all over again.

Lutz writes about autism and other issues she's encountered as the mother of five children and is currently working on a book about ECT in the pediatric population. She is president of EASI Foundation: Ending Aggression and Self-Injury in the Developmentally Disabled, and can be reached at amy@easifoundation.org.

1 2 3 4 5 6
7
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Is this a commercial for batting gloves or a baseball game?

    Major league baseball desperately needs to speed up the action. Here's a place to start: Nix the mind-numbing ritual of hitters who first adjust the right batting glove, then the left one, after every single pitch.
     

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Simpsons still going strong

    The groundbreaking animation first hit the air Dec. 17, 1989, but the family first appeared on television in "The Tracey Ullman Show" short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987.

    August 21, 2014

  • Does Twitter need a censor?

    Twitter decided last year to make images more prominent on its site. Now, the social network is finding itself caught between being an open forum and patrolling for inappropriate content.

    August 21, 2014

  • Police chief resigns over racial slur repost to Facebook

    A repost on his personal Facebook page of a racially-charged comment by the original poster of a comedy video has forced the police chief of an Oklahoma city to resign his office.

    August 21, 2014

  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Who should pay for your kids ACT?

    Thirteen states paid for 11th-grade students in all public high schools to take the ACT college admission test this year, with several more planning to join them in 2015.

    August 20, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014