Ari Ne’eman on autism

16 May

Ari has had a quite wonderful piece on him in Newsweek. It takes on the hard questions for Ari and he answers them with the aplomb that has come from years of hard work of learning to be an excellent networker:

Ne’eman battles a strange kind of image problem: his critics accuse him of not really being autistic. His mother, Rina, is particularly sensitive about this. “People who see Ari today have no idea where he’s been,” she says. As a young child, Ne’eman was verbally precocious but socially challenged. “I didn’t understand the people around me, and they didn’t understand me,” he says. He was bullied and ostracized—back then he didn’t look at people; he flapped his hands and paced incessantly (he still does both today); he brought newspapers to elementary school as leisure reading. “I think the word ‘freak’ may have come up,” he says. He was, at one point, segregated from his peers in a special-ed school. That led to struggles with depression and anxiety so severe he would pick at his face until it bled. I asked Ne’eman how he manages all the professional mingling he does today. Small talk makes him uncomfortable, but he’s learned to play along. Still, none of it is easy. “You come out of a meeting and you’ve put on a mask, which involves looking people in the eye, using certain mannerisms, certain phrases,” he says. “Even if you learn to do it in a very seamless sort of way, you’re still putting on an act. It’s a very ex-hausting act.”

This is a common attack tactic from people like Jake Crosy at AoA or Harold Doherty. They demean the efforts that autistic people such as Ari have needed and still need to put into their lives to advocate for their own beliefs in favour of the promotion of their own limited and limiting set of autism related beliefs. But as history has shown, its people like Ari – those who are willing to be openly challenged about what they think who will win the respect of people.

Well done Ari, I’m proud to think that you are representing all manner of people on the spectrum, from the very high functioning Jake Crosby to the very low functioning such as my daughter. Thank you.

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11 Responses to “Ari Ne’eman on autism”

  1. Clay May 17, 2009 at 03:25 #

    It really IS a great piece in Newsweek, gotta go out and buy it! And shucks to people who have no idea how hard it is to get on in the world as an Aspie, and think it has nothing at all to do with “autism”. I know it’s the same thing, only another variety. They don’t give us credit for what we’ve been able to learn and accomplish.
    See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYjor12MhGA&feature=channel
    Also, look for a film by A.J. Mahari. – “You Don’t Seem Like You Have Asperger’s”

  2. aneeman May 17, 2009 at 06:25 #

    Thanks for the kind words, Clay.

    I don’t know that Rudy Simone and other CADD-supporters is the kind of resource we want to be publicizing, though that’s just my humble opinion. :)

  3. Clay May 17, 2009 at 14:03 #

    I don’t believe that Rudy Simone IS a CADD supporter, as she has disavowed any “relationship” to Maxine Aston, CADD, or FAAAS, in an email to me. I explained on Mike’s blog how it happened that Aston wrote a foreword to Simone’s book. Simone read a book by Aston, thought it was helpful to her and her BF, called to thank her and mentioned that she was writing a book herself, to which Aston then offered to write a foreword. That’s all. I’ve ordered the book from Amazon, will get it in about 10 days, and will let you know if there’s anything CADDish in it.

    But the point of the link above was that people just don’t give us credit for what we’ve learned and accomplished, deny that we’re autistic or Asperger’s, because we don’t seem to meet what *they* define as those. Please really *listen* to those YouTube flicks, both Simone and Mahari. They make good points. I believe they’re both Aspies, and I did actually meet Simone.

  4. Clay May 17, 2009 at 15:24 #

    I responded more than an hour ago, but it hasn’t shown up yet. Trying again, what evidence do you have that Ms Simone is a CADD supporter, and what part of what she said in the film linked to above would be negated, even if she were? I explained in my earlier post, and on Mike’s blog here,
    http://actionforautism.co.uk/2009/05/10/nothing-about-us-without-us/#comment-3338 how it came about that Aston wrote the foreword for Simone’s book. (Simone had read a book by Aston, thought it helpful to her, and called Aston to thank her, and mentioned she was writing a book also. Aston then offered to write the foreword for it.) That was the extent of their “relationship”. Ms Simone has disavowed any relationship to Aston, or CADD, or FAAAS, in an email to me. I’ve ordered the book from Amazon, will get it in about 10 days, and will let everyone know if there’s anything CADDish about it.

  5. Clay May 17, 2009 at 16:17 #

    Yes, I’m aware of that page, and can’t deny it’s there. In fact, I had printed out a copy of it, and highlighted one word, “theoretical”, and showed it to her, explaining there was a difference between “theoretical” and “hypothetical”. I see she’s changed it. I am aware its existence is hypothetical. I suppose that page is there as a favor to Aston? I’ll bring it up when I write her again.

  6. Clay May 17, 2009 at 16:18 #

    Trying again:
    Yes, I’m aware of that page, and can’t deny it’s there. In fact, I had printed out a copy of it, and highlighted one word, “theoretical”, and showed it to her, explaining there was a difference between “theoretical” and “hypothetical”. I see she’s changed it. I am aware its existence is hypothetical. I suppose that page is there as a favor to Aston? I’ll bring it up when I write her again.

  7. Clay May 17, 2009 at 16:20 #

    Trying one more time:
    Yes, I’m aware of that page, and can’t deny it’s there. In fact, I had printed out a copy of it, and highlighted one word, “theoretical”, and showed it to her, explaining there was a difference between “theoretical” and “hypothetical”. I see she’s changed it. I am aware its existence is hypothetical. I suppose that page is there as a favor to Aston? I’ll bring it up when I write her again.

  8. Clay May 17, 2009 at 16:45 #

    Right, she does mention CADD on that page, but what does she say on that page that’s untrue? I had copied the page, and highlighted one word with which I disagreed, “theoretical” and showed it to her. I explained to her there was a difference between “theoretical” and “hypothetical”, and I see she made that change. I am aware its existence is hypothetical.
    She has assured me that she’s not “affiliated” with Aston, CADD, or FAAAS, and I believe her, just as I believe she’s an Aspie, having met her.

    And her point, in the clip, was that we shouldn’t accuse others of not being autistic, or Aspie, because they don’t meet our definition of those terms, or because we disagree with them about something.

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