Categories
Spotlight

Reverberations (Part 2)

The recent spike in diagnoses of autism […] has prompted some to suggest that it is an excuse for bad behavior or the latest clinical fad.

Amy Harmon

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[…] the stamp of medical authority.

Increasing numbers of children are given increasingly specific labels, ranging from psychiatric and neurological diagnoses such as Asperger’s and attention-deficit disorder to educational descriptors including ‘gifted’ and ‘learning disabled.’

Maia Szalavitz

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Today, autism has broadened into an almost catch-all social category. Anyone who is withdrawn or rigid or awkward might be suspected of being ‘on the spectrum.’

Caroline Narby

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Remotely diagnosing famous geeks has become a kind of hipster parlour game.

Steve Silberman

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Every generation has its defining psychiatric malady, confidently diagnosed from afar by armchair non-psychiatrists. In the fifties, all those gray-suited organization men were married to ‘frigid’ women. Until a few years ago, the country of self-obsessed boomers and reality-TV fame-seekers and vain politicians and bubble-riding Ponzi schemers made narcissistic personality disorder – diagnosis code 301.81 in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition – the craziness of the moment. And who among us has not proudly copped to our own ‘OCD’ or ‘ADD,’ deemed a mercurial sibling ‘seriously bipolar,’ written off an erratic ex as ‘obviously borderline,’ or nodded as a laid-off friend pronounced his former boss a ‘textbook sociopath’? Lately, a new kind of head case stalks the land – staring past us, blurting gaucheries, droning on about the technical minutiae of his boring hobby. And we are ready with our DSM codes: 299.00 (autistic disorder) and 299.80 (Asperger’s disorder).

[…] Such elasticity is nowhere so relevant as at the fuzzy, ever-shifting threshold where clinical disorder shades into everyday eccentricity. The upper end of the spectrum is the liminal zone where Aspies, as people with Asperger’s call themselves, reside.

But this is not a story about Asperger’s, autism, or the spectrum […]

It is, instead, a story about ‘Asperger’s,’ ‘autism,’ and ‘the spectrum’ – our one-stop-shopping shorthand for the jerky husband, the socially inept plutocrat, the tactless boss, the child prodigy with no friends, the remorseless criminal. It’s about the words we deploy to describe some murky hybrid of egghead and aloof.

Benjamin Wallace

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While delving into discussions on neurodiversity, I came across fanciful lists of fictional characters headcanoned as autistic. Character X strives for justice: they are autistic. Character Y likes reading alone: they are autistic. Character Z is passionate and talkative: they are autistic. In fact, any character even slightly atypical/loner/enthusiastic is likely to be promptly declared as having autism. This is how I found out that the main characters in My Little Pony were autistic, because they all had significant interests and plenty to learn about friendship and social relationships. My god. Is autism supposed to be the sole reason people have any depth at all?

La Chouette

(translated by Axelle Ezhr)

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[I]t has become fashionable in some circles to describe the spectrum as the very womb of modernity.

[…]

The same rose-colored impulse has driven an Aspie wave of revisionist psychopathography, in which such diverse historical figures as Thomas Jefferson, Orson Welles, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Andy Warhol, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are supposed to have been residents of the spectrum.

The time-traveling diagnoses often feel like cloud-reading – the case for Darwin as Aspie, as set forth in Genius Genes: How Asperger Talents Changed the World, relies on diagnostic bullet points: his childhood as ‘something of a loner,’ his ‘obsession’ with nature, his routine of counting the laps of his nightly walks in later life.

Benjamin Wallace

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People write characters based on personal experience, stereotypes, and personal ideas of what seems interesting. Unless you are a hermit, you’ve met multiple autistic people. (You may have thought they were ‘quirky’ or ‘very introverted’ or ‘stereotypical engineers.’)

You’ve read or watched media with characters based off of autism stereotypes. They’re ‘geeky,’ ‘awkward,’ or ‘free-spirited.’ […]

Some of these characters are stated to be autistic. Other times the authors dodge the question to avoid needing to write a well-researched and responsible portrayal. Other times the writers wanted to write someone ‘quirky’ and didn’t realize that their idea of ‘quirky’ looks very autistic.

You can read or watch media with autistic or autistic-coded characters. You can meet autistic people whether you know they’re autistic or not. And when you write about interesting people, you’ll probably aim for writing people who are a little unusual. […]

Luna Rose

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Autistic Representation and Real-Life Consequences: An In-Depth Look

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When you are an unusual person, especially if you are disabled, people will often tell you that they “want to hear your story”.   

Often, it’s not really your story that they want to hear. Often they have a story in mind that they want, and they want it to come out of your mouth in order to validate their theories about people like you. […]

Ruti Regan

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Telling your story without being a self-narrating zoo exhibit

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Categories
Spectrum

Lines – Amber (Part 2)

Sometimes the same behaviors in a person {read as} neurotypical would not even be noticed.

But because people with autism are scrutinized all day, every day, by teachers, therapists, parents, and almost everyone else around them, their behaviors are labeled, treated […]

Partial quote, Lisa Jo Rudy

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When you tell me there is no such thing as normal, this is true, in a sense. The things we as a society prize as normal can not all be found in one person. […] There is no one ‘normal’ person, never was, never will be. So many of us are more comfortable with people like ourselves that we take as normal those with a certain amount of similarity to ourselves, and if we have sufficient power in society, this normal may override the normals of others.

Alyssa Hillary

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There is simply no need to speak at all of ‘what makes us human’ in scientific discourse. What makes us human is nothing, save perhaps our rich diversity.

Sophie Vivian

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A lot of people think they can relate {to my struggles} which means it’s brushed under the carpet as not a big deal.

Partial quote, Amy Miller

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“You know how it is. People like that . . . they don’t experience emotions the same way that you and I do.” […]

I thought about telling her [that I am autistic]. I chose not to. I’m not sure what it would have accomplished if I had told her […] revealing myself to be a person like that

The truth is, I don’t experience emotions in the same way as that woman who spoke to me about her disabled clients. Or in the same way that you do. No one does.

Human beings are cognitively and behaviorally diverse. We are so diverse that we defy taxonomy entirely.

There really is no norm, no fixed point of reference from which to deviate.

Caroline Narby

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[F]ew issues are completely exclusive to one group, but some things affect some groups more strongly than others, and that can be very important.

Elizabeth Bartmess

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[S]ome critics […] suggest abandoning the term ‘autism’ altogether. In their opinion, labelling autistic people as such was merely a mistake: We thought there was a natural category called ‘autism,’ but now that we know more about it, we can see that this was an error.

[I]dentifying as autistic may not be biologically meaningful, but it is politically meaningful

[W]e have our own communities, norms, and practices […] Autism, in other words, has begun to develop into a culture, and this culture opens up the space for autistic behaviors to begin to manifest as meaningful […] challeng[ing] existing standards of acceptability within […] dominant social and ideological framework[s]

Some of our most significant and deeply-entrenched human categories – like race and gender – are partly rooted in a constellation of physical elements, and partly in historically situated social construction.

They do not reside on a single gene, or even a network of genes, and yet they are both extremely ‘real’ and extremely important to our conceptions of self and others.

Robert Chapman

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When you are different it’s okay for you to not quite meet up with the rest of the world here and there, because most of the time, when it matters, everything syncs up.

When you are disabled you don’t have that luxury.

 

When you are disabled you have to prove, over and over again, that you are a real person […]

Julia Bascom

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In a world where autism exists, because we do taxonomize human difference and build systems of power around it, I am autistic.

Caroline Narby

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Categories
Positions

Cure

Main argument: Severely disabled

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I don’t hate myself, I just wish there was a cure so I could function better […]

Jonathan Mitchell

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[Some people] would not want a full cure but would take half of one, perhaps lowering the impact of certain symptoms while maintaining the core traits.

Creigh, Caley

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“But if you took away my autism, I wouldn’t be me!” neurodiversity proponents cheer.

“Yes, you would, and no, you wouldn’t. And that’s all okay,” I counter. Every human on this planet […] ha[s] no inherent, independent, unchangeable, enduring selfhood as such.

Twilah Hiari

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[E]very time I see a post about anti-cure or use of “autistic” and the r-slur as insults, there are inevitably a few autistic people commenting that they would actually want a cure, or that they’re okay with people using “autistic” as an insult.

In a vacuum, these sentiments are fine. You’re entitled to your own opinion, and if you are autistic both these matters are of direct concern to you […]

But we’re not in a vacuum.

We are surrounded by ableists. […] if you present an opinion that aligns with their beliefs and goes directly against the held beliefs of the majority, they’re going to tokenize you. Because one autistic voice that agrees with them is enough to undermine the voices of literally everyone else. […]

I’m not saying you should never express that you want a cure or that you think using autism as an insult is okay. […] But you need to be very careful why and how you express these opinions, because ableists will use your voice as justification to hurt people […]

Anna

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When we stop talking about ‘curing autism’ and start talking about ‘relieving autistic suffering’, the research takes on a whole new direction. When we stop using the cognitive shortcut ‘autism’ and start describing the exact problematic behaviors and traits that are experienced as a result of environmental, physiological, or social factors […] we may actually start having productive conversations about autism […]

VisualVox

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On the one hand, I read about how people need to find the positives in their conditions to help maintain self esteem and find a balance, and that makes sense.

On the other hand, I think that if we define the condition in terms of deficits, then the creativity and energy belong to the person, not the condition. And then, the reluctance to be free of the condition (assuming such a thing is possible) disappears.

Out of context, Sarah K Reece

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The truth is – if someone had offered me a ‘cure’ that would make me completely neurotypical in the first twenty three or so years of my life, I would have torn off their hand to get it.

That’s not an admission of defeat on the topic of neurodiversity, or a surrender to the idea that a ‘cure’ for autism is something that is wanted or needed. In fact, it’s one of the core reasons that I advocate so strongly against the very idea of finding a ‘cure’.

[…]

These arguments [that support the choice of a cure] fail to address the fact that the issue here is not being autistic or being LGBTQIA+. The issue is ableism, homophobia, transphobia and all those ways that the world crushes down on you, repeating again and again that you are wrong, that you are defective, that the word was not built for you; a world that demands that you cut off your corners to fit through the hole, when the true answer was to widen the hole altogether.

Erin Ekins

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I’ve thought a lot about that mythical cure, and there have been days, many days, when I didn’t have to think at all – when I knew that, if I had a chance, I’d take a cure in a heartbeat.

I want the things a cure could give me. […]

Can you look at the list of things I want, and tell me if you see a pattern?

Every single one of those things I want?

Have nothing to do with being autistic.

In the end, there are really two things I want when I say I wish I wasn’t autistic or I want a cure. I want to not feel like a freak, and I want to feel safe. Those are hard, scary things to feel and to admit. And, because I’m being honest, I have to ask something even scarier.

What if being cured didn’t fix those things?

Julia Bascom

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We need to rally for mutual respect. We need to rally for diversity. We need to rally for healing. And yes, some of us choose to rally for cures and therapies and miracles. But I think that can be done in a way that isn’t going to hurt others. I think it can be done in a way that makes people look at us in awe and think, “Wow, now there is a group of people that can disagree without bullying one another.” […]

I choose not to say SUCK IT AUTISM on my blog anymore. I mean, I will say it sucks in my head every once in a while, because truth be told, it’s just how I feel sometimes; I don’t want to lie to you. It really is how I feel sometimes. Not every second, not every minute, not even every day. But I do think and feel it sometimes.

But I know now what that particular phrase is capable of and while it invigorated me when I used it the other day, it brought other people to tears when they heard it. And I’ll tell ya, nothing takes the wind out of my sails like realizing just how much damage something I write can cause. […]

Jo Ashline

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[…] And for that matter the whole cure topic gets oversimplified the same way.

While I strongly disagree with the notion of cure and all it represents, not all decent people have even heard of my point of view and not all decent people would agree with me once they did.

I have worked right alongside people who want cures (some of whom even did ‘biomed’), in order to fight for good adult services, against restraints and seclusion, against institutions in all their forms from huge to tiny and stereotypical to stealth, and a lot of other issues that we can agree on.

And I have met anti-cure people who are aspie supremacists, who do great harm to autistic people (especially those they perceive as inferior), and who I would rarely if ever find anything to agree with them on, not even the reasons for opposing cure.

Mel Baggs

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Basically, if there were to legitimately be no pressure to become neurotypical, if being autistic were actually OK, if it were a choice a person made for themself and only themself, with informed consent […] in that world? If it existed, and they chose it, I would shake their hands and wish them luck.

In the world we actually live in, I expect that the cure would be forcibly used on children, […] on anyone who receives services, and for any portions of the autistic community who technically were getting it only under informed consent, choosing not to would be used as a sign of incompetence, at which point it would be forced. That means any organization that states finding a cure as a mission is inherently not trusted.

Alyssa Hillary

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Unlike the porous and broad meaning of ‘disability’ – a word that has come to reflect the potential for community building and solidarity across difference in many disability communities – philosophical and medical framings of ‘severe disability’ presume undesirability, objective tragedy, and potentially a lack of personhood.

Sunaura Taylor

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