Autism, Misinformation and Lenny Schafer

3 Feb

You may or may not have heard of Lenny Schafer. He runs the Schafer Autism Report – an email digest which collects news stories related to ASD’s and comments on them. He’s staunchly pro-cure.

At the moment, he’s the darling of a wide range of parents who have autistic children who also believe they want a cure for their children.

This puts him firmly in opposition to groups such as autisitics.org who are a group of people on the spectrum who do not wish to be cured. They claim that a cure is tantamount to ‘killing’ them in terms of who they are. An ASD is so deeply part of who they are that they claim to remove or attempt to remove it is effectively removing their individuality. They do not see an ASD as an illness to be cured, more a (different) reality to be experienced.

These two groups are in frequent collision with each other. The group at autistics.org say that for parents to wish to cure their children is a basic denial of their childrens human rights to be who they are. The group vocally represented by Lenny Schafer say that to deny their children the possibility of a cure (should one ever exist) denies them the right to participate fully in life.

Both views, on the face of it, have some merit. They’re both definitely born out of a desire to do the best thing for autistic people. However, look past the surface legitimacy of the Schafer led group and you see a loose conglomeration of alarmists using very questionable tactics.

The first tactic the Schafer group uses is to say that as parents they are the only ones allowed to speak for their childrern. This is true up to a point. I certainly feel that as my daughters advocates, my wife and I are best placed to say what is best for Megan. However, lets not forget that Megan (or any autistic person) is not ill. What they have is part of them in the same way that I am right handed and dark-haired. In terms of speaking for my daughter on issues to do with autistics life experiences, the group at autistics.org are vastly better placed then me to represent her. Why? Because they, like her, are on the autistic spectrum.

One of the most obvious things about any child is that they grow up. They grow up and develop a sense of who they are and like any person affiliate themselves to particular viewpoints and opinions (politics, football teams, human rights etc). As they do this who are we to decide that who they are is something we as non-autistics are entitled to cure? I’ve spoken to a lot of autistics both in person and online and I can honestly say I have never met any who wish to be ‘cured’. The wish for a cure seems to be the sole province of non-autistics.

This brings me neatly on to the second tactic, Schafer et al employ. They claim that those at austics.org and the other groups associated with them are comprised of individuals who aren’t actually autistic. This claim rests of on two points. Firstly, they say that some people within these groups are not on the spectrum whatsoever. To prove this they ask to see the official diagnosis of the group members. As far as I know, no one from the group opposing a cure has provided details of their diagnosis and why the hell should they? A persons medical diagnosis is their own private business. It speaks volumes about the depths that Schafers group is prepared to sink to if they consider that publishing one’s private medical business or forwarding it to anyone else is an acceptable rebuttal. Secondly, they claim that of those people at the autistics.org group who are on the spectrum, most of them are high functioning and/or Aspergers. Why is this an important distinction? Well because they back up this by claiming that those who are high functioning cannot possibly empathise with those who have a more severe form of autism (note how they seem to feel that they as non-autisitics they can empathise with their childrens autism). Schafer himself has undertaken a bizarre campaign to actually remove Aspergers Syndrome from the ‘list’ of syndromes that the phrase ASD covers. Do any leading theorists in the field of ASD believe Schafers claims that Aspergers is not an ASD?

Professor Simon Baron Cohen (Professor of Developmental Psychopathology and Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University. Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge) certainly doesn’t seem to feel this. In a letter to Aspies For Freedom Professor Baron Cohen states:

As you may know, I was one of the first to write in the scientific literature that autism and asperger syndrome could be viewed not as a disability but as a difference. That was some 5 years ago.

What about Dr Tony Attwood (Honours degree in Psychology from the University of Hull, Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Surrey, and Ph.D. from the University of London). He says:

Dr Hans Asperger, an Austrian paediatrician, originally described Asperger’s Syndrome in 1944. The syndrome has more recently been classified as an autistic spectrum disorder.

Also in a letter to the afore mentioed Aspies For Freedom, Dr Attwood states:

Thank you for your message and I share your concern with regard to the zealous way in which some people would want to cure autism. I think by doing this we would lose one of the essential aspects of the human condition.

So thats two very big-hitters in the scientific community who patently disagree with Schafers opinion that Aspergers Syndrome is not an ASD. They also have clear reservations about a cure. Schafer, I might say, has zero medical training to the best of my knowledge. Not that this stops him from making frequent medical diagnosis’. This formed part of a recent response to a letter to The Schafer Report from Lenny Schafer himself:

Given their (the group at autistics.org one assumes) apparent lack of diagnosis documentation, the misanthropic attitude and behavior of those in this group appears to be more like Borderline Personality Disorder, which is a
differential diagnosis to Aspergers.

I repeat again, unlike the expert researchers quoted, Lenny Schafer to the best of my knowledge has no medical training. He also claims that because the people at autistics.org are capable of communication this means they are not autistic. Baron-Cohens and Attwoods total lack of indication of the same reasoning in their communication with Aspies For Freedom tends to indicate otherwise.

Once more for the record – Lenny Schafer, to the best of my knowledge has no medical training.

Lorna Wing, possibly the biggest hitter of them all in the field of ASD research presents an excellent overview of the issues in identifying Aspergers as related to autism. She states:

In the light of this finding, is there any justification for identifying Asperger syndrome as a separate entity? Until the aetiologies of such conditions are known, the term is helpful when explaining the problems of children and adults who have autistic features, but who talk grammatically and who are not socially aloof Such people are perplexing to parents, teachers and work supervisors, who often cannot believe in a diagnosis of autism, which they equate with muteness and total social withdrawal. The use of a diagnostic term and reference to Asperger’s clinical descriptions help to convince the people concerned that there is a real problem involving subtle, but important, intellectual impairments, and needing careful management and education.

In other words, Aspergers Syndrome is a useful label to give to those not on the spectrum to help them differentiate between the needs of someone with Aspergers and someone with classic (Kanners) autism. No one, despite the best efforts of Scahfer to muddy the waters here, is claiming that Aspergers and classical autism are the very same thing. What the group at autistics.org are claiming (with the full suppoprt of Baron-Cohen, Attwood and Wing it seems) is that they are based on the same triad of differences that constitute an ASD.

The third tactic that the Schafer group utilises is basic fear-mongering. They claim that the group at autistics.org say that no one should help autistic children. This is a lie. They say that the group at autistics.org say that no autistic child should recieve therapy. This is also a lie. What they do say is that there are certain types of therapy which are bordering (and in some cases crossing the line) into abuse (see examples of Lovaas abuse. Please note however that this form of ‘treatment’ is on the decline). Moreso, what they do say is that they need help, that all autistics need help and that this, despite the best efforts of Schafer and his ilk to obscure the fact, is not the same as wanting or needing a cure. A cure removes the autism completely. Interventions into specific situations (comorbidity is the ‘official’ word here) that are aligned to the autism are vital. Below is a quote from an autisitic friend who sums it up perfectly:

I don’t want to be cured. I want a world that understands and I would want help that is effective in helping a child.

Schafer and his suppporters are incapable of seeing this particular shade of grey. To them everything is black or white.

I have to wonder at the mentality of someone who would perpetuate such misleading information and claim to be fighting the good fight (Schafer claims that fighting for a cure for autism is the ‘most noble cause there is’). I can feel pity for Schafer and I know that in his heart of hearts he feels he is doing what is best for his kids but even more I feel pity for his kids should a cure ever come into being. He would administer such a thing in a heartbeat, never thinking that his child, as mine, could be treated for their comorbid conditions and grow up to live a fulfilling life and still be autistic.

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38 Responses to “Autism, Misinformation and Lenny Schafer”

  1. Helen February 3, 2005 at 16:08 #

    Well muddying the waters a bit further. It is now agreed that HFA and AS are the same but LFA is not the same as HFA and AS.

    And don’t tell me he believes AS is mild, because I do not believe it.

    Helen

  2. Helen February 3, 2005 at 16:13 #

    Just to add something else – the original terminology for AS is “Autistic Psycopathy” and Tony Attwoods paper into the differences between HFA and AS are available at http://www.tonyattwood.com.au/publications.htm#Differences .

    The other interesting thing is as is mentioned in the article that four of the people whom asperger diagnosed would be dxed with what is Classical Autism.

  3. Noetic February 23, 2005 at 14:17 #

    Great entry!

    One thing to note though – having personally witnessed how Michelle Dawson has ripped apart and twisted the writings of a well-respected ASD author (basically because she mentioned Irlen and Tomatis as *possible* things to help alleviate sensory overload – this was misconstrued as “promoting Irlen theory of autism” and “declaring autism as a disease and defect”) who deals with sensory issues, I would like to point out that some autism advocates do themselves have a remarkably similar style of arguing as Mr. Schafer himself displays.

    In this case, Ms Dawson simply ASSUMED that anyone who dares talk about autism must be nothing more than an NT curebie who doesn’t understand anything about autism anyway. Thus, no matter what the author in question did to assure her that there was most certainly none of these things in her writing, she may as well have been talking to her own feet, as Ms Dawson kept sticking to her twisted and chewed-up version of an excerpt she had read and that was that.

    The sad thing was that this author is quite involved with research and support in the UK and has taken a lot of flak for DEFENDING Ms Dawson’s views in the past to parents who felt her perspective was invalid! 😦

    Her perspective *is* valid, but it is valid solely for HERSELF.

    The same way of misconstruing information has also been widely applied to the way Ms Dawson et al portray ABA and the majority of parents of autistic kids. Don’t get me wrong I do not think ABA as originally promoted by Lovaas is in any way recommendable, but such blatant twisting of facts and quotes sickens me regardless of whether I agree with the position of the person who is manipulating the text or facts for their own gain!

  4. Kev February 23, 2005 at 14:49 #

    Interesting stuff Noetic and a good example of how the shades of grey affect both sides of the debate.

  5. Michelle Dawson February 28, 2005 at 10:45 #

    Hello,

    I think the actual texts (which are available) of what was written should be consulted.

    I in fact called the person I am accused of “ripping apart” “sympathetic” and said her observations were good.

    I quoted directly from her writing. I did not guess about her thinking. I did not pretend to have read her books. One person provided one link to her work. I responded to what was present at that link, which was in turn linked to articles describing autistic perception (where there are great and measurable strengthss) as abnormal, dysfunctional, disordered, etc.

    It was then proposed by this person that heavily marketed “treatments” for these many defects should be looked into. Two of the four articles I saw promoted Tomatis and Irlen.

    So while I praised some of the insights of this author, and her sensitivity, I believe that caution should be exercised when assigning defects to all autistics; when constructing large theories about what is wrong with all autistics; and when stating the benefits of expensive treatments promising, if not to “cure” autism (as she wrote) then greatly to ameliorate it.

    I did point out that I did not want my nature to be “ameliorated”. I do want ways to allow me best to use the strengths I have, versus attempts like Tomatis to “re-wire” my dsyfunctional perception.

    Usually those considering autism as a social deficit are those most involved in selling deficits and then remedies for these deficits.

    I was then surprised, with the science which has come out in the past decade, to find a writer who still proposed that autism involves dysfunctional perception. The work I do, and the group I work with, strongly oppose this view for scientific reasons. We have done a presentation showing how autistic stengths are mutated into deficits in order to present autistics in constant need of remediation and services, to present us as fragile and needy and ill-suited for participation in the real world.

    The person I am accused of “ripping apart” insulted me personally and profoundly in a way I still cannot honestly believe. And she was a great deal more condescending to me than I have experienced since I last communicated with an autism society official. She presented herself as the true voice of all autistics. That is her business. But one is entitled to disagree with her, which I respectfully did.

  6. Michelle Dawson February 28, 2005 at 11:47 #

    I forgot to mention that because my views are evidently contrary to Dr Bogdashina’s, I cannot see why she would “promote” them.

    Nowhere in my writing do I call autistic perception “impaired”, “dysfunctional”, “abnormal”, etc. I have argued against the presentation of such views in the science and in the media, and by autism societies, and so have people I work with in Canada and elsewhere. I will argue against them wherever they are presented, even when they are presented by sympathetic people.

    My legal position is also clear, in refusing to consider autistic cognition (perception, attention, memory, intelligence, learning) as either inferior (“impaired”, “dysfunctional”, “abnormal”, as Dr Bogdashina writes) or absent because they are not the same as the non-autistic versions.

    Having thought about it, I would like an explanation of “for their own gain”.

    What did I gain, exactly?

  7. Kev February 28, 2005 at 11:51 #

    Thanks for that clarification Michelle. I did try to locate the root of this issue on autistics.org but couldn’t find anything – probably because I’m not aware of the context. Would it be possible for you to post a link to the ‘whole story’ as it were?

  8. Michelle Dawson February 28, 2005 at 12:50 #

    It’s on the rather large comment board attached to one of my articles. Dinah Murray posted the comment which set this off. Here is my response to her http://www.quicktopic.com/27/H/vJvhV4fDnBgw7/m886 . Up to you to track back to what Dr Murray wrote. It takes a while for Dr Bogdashina to show up.

    Dr Murray and I have a long history of serious disagreements, which is referred to in my comment. That has not stopped us from working together, and from learning considerably from each other. I admire a great deal of her work, I greatly enjoy communicating with her, and am in awe of her persistence. But I often don’t agree with her (and vice versa, I’m sure).

    Dr Murray’s own big theory of autism is way over my head, as I write in the message.

    Note: the word “Autisticism” was used by Sabrina Freeman in a letter published in the SAR (which you may or may not have seen). That is all I’m going to say about it.

    If you persist through the comment board, you will eventually see a superb post by Mike, showing how to invent and market an autism treatment. I think it’s relevant.

    Keep in mind that some researchers have really stuck their necks out to fight against the routine use of offensive terms like “dysfunctional”, “impaired”, “abnormal” in the science, when words like “atypical”, “differences” and, in the case of perception, “enhanced” are available.

    In the work I do, one of the foundations is a model called “enhanced perceptual functioning”–a far cry from the derogatory words used by Dr Bogdashina. The non-derogatory terms have also the benefit of accuracy. They do not lead to discredited treatments promising to remediate what are in effect strengths.

    I have to go back to work. Ask questions.

  9. Kev February 28, 2005 at 13:56 #

    Thanks Michelle, I’ll have a good read tonight after Megans gone to bed.

  10. Kev March 2, 2005 at 15:15 #

    Blimey – thats a big thread.

    I did read on to Dr Bogdashina’s comments and had a read of the 14 articles she wrote.

    I can see why you felt offended by what was said, it did seem rather a disappointing comment to make from someone with what in other respects seems a genuine respect of ‘difference’.

    Without seeking an absolvement though I have to say that we NT’s, especially us NT parents are not the best at trying to see past our own mindset and that her remarks were made in ignorance rather than a desire to be offensive (even though she was). Its taken me a long while to see the sense in reading/talking to autistics about autism – due mostly to an ignorance on my part regarding who the expert(s) in this area was. I dare say I tsill say things/believe things that are wrong but I try and learn as much as I can from the right people and hopefully my progress towards genuine understanding, whilst slow, is genuine. I can’t speak for Dr Bogdashina and I agree what she said was not good but I suspect she’d say the same if she were here.

  11. Noetic March 7, 2005 at 16:00 #

    “I in fact called the person I am accused of “ripping apart” “sympathetic” and said her observations were good.” ( M. Dawson)

    You did not rip her apart and I never said that. However your presentation of her views and writings is a gross miscontruction that bears very little resemblance to the original writings.

    I was referring to THAT when I stated that you had ripped apart this person’s writings.

    Perhaps if you took the time to read what is actually written, rather than running off with a badly understood fragment of a text (or post for that matter), your points might have a bit more credibility.

  12. Noetic March 7, 2005 at 16:12 #

    Also – just because the articles mention among other things Irlen and Tomatis to treat very specific difficulties that are experienced as disturbing or painful by the person with autism themselves, this does not mean that visual or auditory processing differences and the theories behind methods such as Irlen CAUSE or EXPLAIN autism.

    It also does not mean anyone is told to force their children to such treatments.

    It simply means that *if* a person experiences difficulties that bother them, *then* certain measures, including tinted lenses (of which Irlen are only one option – many do just as well on cheaper choices) might help them cope better with *that* specific issue.

    No more no less. Nowhere in those articles does it say that any of these things cause or define autism, that autism can be treated or cured with these methods or that anyone who does not have those very specific problems should have to use such treatments.

  13. Michelle Dawson March 8, 2005 at 08:33 #

    I have now read a lot more of Dr Bogdashina’s writing and I maintain my position (*emphatically*), which is entirely and directly based in what she has written.

    If anything I have downplayed the problems I have found. I have criticized her much more lightly, and much less comprehensively, with respect to her published work, than I would someone who is published in the science. I have, however, criticized her accurately. Those insisting that autistic perception is abnormal, dysfunctional, disordered, etc, will disagree with me, but then they always have.

  14. Noetic March 8, 2005 at 12:50 #

    “Those insisting that autistic perception is abnormal, dysfunctional, disordered, etc, will disagree with me, but then they always have.”

    I think the point that you are missing is that, while she DOES at times use words like “problem” or “abnormal” when describing specific issues (such as hypersensitivities), she mostly refers to differences and frequently points out that different sensory worlds are not invalid or disordered.

    I just can’t understand how you can discredit the whole of a person’s work because, in a few instances, that person mentions that some aspects in some individuals can be severe and can lead to problems.

    You are just reading so much into her articles and attaching supposedly implied hidden messages and meanings to things. It plain does not make sense to me, but then I have often got in trouble for being too literal when others read whole novels into simple, easy to understand and plain sentences.

    It might help to ask someone to clarify what they meant, rather than base your opinions on things that are simply not written on the page, but are based on what you choose to read into them.

    (I must say her last response seemed a bit snappy and as if she had jumped to conclusions about your question of “which autistics” she had gained her experience from * but surely that does not in the least change the validity of her work?)

    * to answer that question, as far as I am aware she draws her experience from a very large circle of friends and clients – both private individuals and more “famous” autistics and Aspies – from all walks of the Spectrum.

  15. Noetic March 8, 2005 at 14:10 #

    Sorry for going on but one thing I find really important is that EVERYONE has skills and deficits, be they AS, NT, Autistic, Dyslexic or whatnot.

    I just think there is something very wrong when anyone who “dares” to attempt to discuss some of the difficulties commonly seen in some or many individuals with autism is automatically accused of “believing autism is defined solely by deficiencies and abnormalities”, regardless of how many times they emphasise the positive aspects of autism and try to get people to see it more as a difference than a disorder.

    Everybody has skills and deficits that need to be understood if you want to understand the person and provide them with the most suitable environment. With most NTs these skills and deficits are simply more similar (between them) so do not need to be mentioned or explained. I’d much rather people were informed of some of the difficulties I do have, rather than having them judging me because they think anything I do not do the way they expect me to is out of spite or because I am too lazy or rebellious to do so.

    Devaluing the work of dedicated professionals simply because among other things they also talk about problems or deficits (in an attempt to explain and solve some of the problems that some individuals may be experiencing) just seems somewhat irrational.

  16. Michelle Dawson March 9, 2005 at 05:53 #

    Dr Bogdashina has described autistic perception as “impaired”, “dysfuntional”, “disordered”, and “abnormal”. Never mind “baffling”. She insists that we have what she calls “gestalt” processing, which leads “inevitably” to “fragmented” and “distorted” perception (etc., and that’s putting it nicely, given what she has repeatedly written). She claims that this gestalt processing (which is her invention) also inevitably results in WCC (which kicks in later than, say, Uta Frith envisioned back in 1989–she doesn’t cite anything more recent). She then offers ways to fix/alleviate these many problems.

    She repeatedly and strenuously promotes Delacato, as well as Scotopic Sensitivity/Irlen Syndrome. She makes very definite pronouncements, e.g., “Light sensitivity in autism coincides completely with SS/IS symptoms.” (2001)

    She uses a term originated (Lovaas & Schriebman, 1971) and strongly promoted by Dr Lovaas, “stimulus overselectivity”, though she fails to cite Dr Lovaas’ work. This term and theory related to autistic perception predates the unpublished (in the science) work of Delacato on which Dr Bogdashina’s work so largely depends.

    One of the “autistics” she cites is “Brad Rand”, who does not exist. She repeatedly cites very selective excerpts (including speculative ones; e.g., Temple Grandin speculating about how “low-functioning” autistics perceive, without reference to the science–and I’m involved in this–showing how supposedly “low-functioning” autistics perceive), and totally non-credible people in the areas for which she cites them (Irlen–who she quotes extensively and cites, as well as Stehli, Rimland, Delacato–who she repeatedly quotes and cites).

    She successfully evades all work (and there is a lot) credibly showing strengths in the areas she is claiming to be an expert in. Since she has academic credentials, I have to assume that her failure to cite credible science showing strengths, while citing entirely non-credible sources (Tomatis, Irlen, Delacato, etc) to underline “dysfunction”, “impairments”, etc, is deliberate, versus simple lack of research on her part. That is, I’m assuming she’s an excellent researcher who knows the science but is being very selective in what she presents. She also has to propose that all the studies showing superiority in perception, in areas she claims are distorted and fragmented, are flawed . She would have to propose my own work (which involves large numbers of autistics) is impossible, because it shows autistics consistently able to do what she claims we cannot (and we do it better on average than non-autistics). Ditto most of the work out of the group I work in–this group does not just study perception, but it has done a lot of work in this area, involving large numbers of autistics.

    There are things I can’t do because I’m a small female. And sometimes being female, or being small, is not so very pleasant. That does not make femaleness (or smallness) “dysfunctional”, “disordered”, “abnormal”, or an “impairment”. I do not suffer from “dysfunctional”, “disordered”, “abnormal” or “impaired” humanity because I am female (or short), any more than because I am autistic. I’m old enough to remember when women were considered to be composed of deficits and dysfuntions. Many women went along with this view of their nature. That does not mean that they were right, or that there were not other views available.

    If Dr Bogdashina wrote a few paragraphs saying that autistics need to rest or modulate (by various means) our vision and our hearing, and should probably have comfortable clothes, and will behave significantly differently than typical people, all due to fundamental differences in perception and their consequences in other areas (e.g, attention, learning, etc), then that would be fine. But that is not what she has done.

  17. Michelle Dawson March 9, 2005 at 06:17 #

    I forgot to add that I think Dr Bogdashina’s work speaks for itself.

    Also, she publicly expressed her certainty (more than once, I believe) that I was cognitively ill-equipped, due to being autistic, to comprehend her writing. Noetic’s comprehensive support for Dr Bogdashina makes it likely that Noetic agrees with this certainty. Therefore, Noetic should simply dismiss my views as the ramblings of an uncomprehending autistic.

  18. Noetic March 9, 2005 at 11:36 #

    “Dr Bogdashina has described autistic perception as “impaired”, “dysfuntional”, “disordered”, and “abnormal”. Never mind “baffling”. ” [M. Dawson]

    What you have to keep in mind is that she often writes about how autistic reactions appear to others, i.e. baffling, confusing, dysfunctional, and then attempts to describe the differences to help NTs understand what might be going on when their child, friend etc. reacts in a certain way.

    That is not the same as stating that this is her own view (although I acknowledge she could do much better in making it clear when she is talking of her own views, and when she is describing people’s usual reactions!).

    When she is writing about her own views, she tends to use terms like “differences” and frequently emphasises that different perceptions are not invalid or wrong.

    You also have to keep in mind that most of her articles and books are aimed at parents and professionals and are an attempt to explain and help NTs understand some of the sensory issues that some autistics do experience, and provide solutions for people who do experience those problems.

    Nowhere does she state that all autistic individuals have such issues (sensory differences that cause them discomfort or problems), nor does she ever state that having such issues makes the autistic person themselves “dysfunctional” or “defective”. (That is silly anyway – why would anyone equate one small problem with the whole person being “defective”?)

    Another important point – The books and articles I have read of hers are not meant to be new theories on the origins or causes of autism, nor are they meant to be books that explain what autism is.

    They deal with specific issues, some of which many autistic individuals do experience to some degree or other.

    If any of them claimed to explain “Autism” then I would agree with you that she focusses too much on the problem aspects.

    However, they are an attempt to explain specific problems to parents and professionals, who would otherwise be likely to treat certain behaviours and reactions as “deliberate”, “oppositional”, “stubborn” or “lazy”, or punish autistic individuals for trying to get away from a painful (for them) situation.

    There never was any claim that

    a) All Autistics have such issues
    b) All Autistics have the same sensory perceptions (on the contrary she emphasises this time and time again!)
    c) Having any such issues made a person somehow defective or invalid
    d) Autism was defined by these issues

    They are merely explanations and attempts at solving some of the specific problems that can (but by no means automatically and always do) occur in autistic people.

    Just like, for example, an anatomy book explains “the facts” whereas a book on (for example) tissue disorders explains what happens (and what to do) when some things are defective the body, there are books that attempt to explain and define what Autism is – those books explain the basics, the differences in neurological wiring.

    On the other hand, Dr. B’s books and articles – like the book on specific disorders of body tissue – mostly illustrate things that can be different and things that can be defective in the sensory and perceptual experiences of autistic individuals, and how to try and solve these problems if they do occur.

    And just like you should not conclude from a book about tissue or other medical disorders that the human body is defined “by deficits and disorders”, I do not think it is fair to accuse Dr. B of defining Autism through deficits when the articles you are basing your criticism on are primarily an attempt to explain and provide solutions for cases where those deficits or problems do exists. (In spite of this she emphasises frequently the validity of the autistic perspective and points out that autism is primarily a difference, in fact takes much of her advice from what many autistic individuals from different walks of life and different points on the Spectrum have explained to her, rather than ignoring us and tryingt o squeeze us into some outdated dried-up theoretical concept!)

    “Also, she publicly expressed her certainty (more than once, I believe) that I was cognitively ill-equipped, due to being autistic, to comprehend her writing.” [M. Dawson}

    Where are you reading that? She merely stated that she had previously assumed you were referring to all her work, when you had in fact simply read [at the time] a few lines from one article. Since it is not possible to understand her work if you are not aware of it in the first place, this has nothing to do with your cognitive or any other skills but everything to do with perhaps a small dose of mind-blindness on her part (to which professionals unfortunately are not immune either!).

    She simply assumed you were familiar with parts of her work that you had not even heard of, and that you knew her views on autism in general. This is of course not possible since the article Dinah linked only dealt with a very specific aspect of autism! I do believe she is working on another book that deals with broader aspects of autism though – however her published work so far mainly deals with very specific aspects, differences and some of the problems that can occur in autism, and they should be treated as such, not as attempts to explain or define the whole of autism!)

    “Noetic’s comprehensive support for Dr Bogdashina makes it likely that Noetic agrees with this certainty. Therefore, Noetic should simply dismiss my views as the ramblings of an uncomprehending autistic.” [M. Dawson]

    Why do you have to be so presumptious and prejudiced? If I believed that autistic individuals were incapable of comprehending her work I would hardly be in any position to have understood it myself, nor would

    People are allowed to disagree with what you say without having such ludicrous accusations put in their mouths! I am sick and tired of people reading bizarre claims and accusations into simple statements 😦

    I disagreed with what you said – that is by far not the same as calling you incapable of comprehending anything. It simply means I do not think your views on this matter are realistic, perhaps because you automatically jump to the conclusion that someone must be wrong because they use certain terminology and do not deny that there are some problems that can occur with autism?

  19. Noetic March 9, 2005 at 11:47 #

    Just realised I forgot to complete a sentence – the end of the paragraph after the last quote should read:

    “If I believed that autistic individuals were incapable of comprehending her work I would hardly be in any position to have understood it myself, nor would Wendy Lawson have been able to understand and so eloquently comment on the second book as she did in the foreword of said book.”

  20. Michelle Dawson March 9, 2005 at 12:59 #

    I disagree with Noetic’s presentation and interpretation of Dr Bogdashina’s work (and I have now read a lot of this work). I am allowed to disagree with people when they take public positions, present themselves as experts, and further, present themselves as the true voice of all autistic people. I wrote this before.

    I do not want someone involved (e.g.) in one of my legal cases to walk into a legal proceding with Dr Bogdashina’s work in hand, in order to say that my “inevitably” fragmented and distorted perception (etc) means that my testimony is worthless.

    Noetic’s assumption about what I was referring to, re Dr Bogdashina’s assessment of my cognitive impairments, is false. As usual, I suggest reading the source.

    Also, I was referring to one individual autistic, me, who Dr Bogdashina stated very clearly was not bright enough, due to my diagnosis and consequent impairments (etc), to understand what she was writing. She stated this more than one time.

    Noetic agrees with Dr Bogdashina about my many shortcomings. That was my point. In fact, Noetic has just confirmed this another time. I don’t think it needs repeating.

    I am fully aware of Noetic’s unconditional support for Dr Bogdashina and Noetic’s abysmal opinion of my cognitive impairments and my character. I can’t do anything about any of this.

    Also, I am pretty used to being called names and being told I don’t understand and am generally an appalling person. I get hate mail, etc. I don’t think any of this is interesting or productive. It is possible to discuss contentious issues respectfully, as has generally happened on my comment boards (Dr Bogdashina being one of the few and rare exceptions). I believe Noetic’s many, many accusations against me, starting with Noetic’s first message, speak (like Dr Bogdashina’s work) for themselves.

  21. Noetic March 9, 2005 at 14:22 #

    “Noetic’s assumption about what I was referring to, re Dr Bogdashina’s assessment of my cognitive impairments, is false. As usual, I suggest reading the source.”

    That is why I asked you to clarify what you meant.

    I have not seen any such statements in that thread and feel it is nothing more than decent to at least bother backing up your accusations, rather than using my request for clarification to “justify” your discounting my criticism.

    I do not criticise *you*, I criticise your frequent reading of accusations and implications into people’s writings, without even bothering to explain which paragraphs you are referring to, and how you manage to come to such a conclusion.

    You seem very prejudiced and exceedingly quick to jump to conclusions and demonise people’s views for not agreeing with your points 100%.

    That has nothing to with your cognitive abilities and everything to do with prejudice and the types of judgemental and discriminatory attitudes you like to criticise in pro-cure extremists. You’re only human after all, and passionate about what you believe in. Trouble is, so is everyone else.

    That is what I mean when I initially posted on here – I read and agreed fully with your original article against ABA but find your reasoning and interpretation of texts and statements in other contexts every bit as illogical as that horrid “Mother’s response” you got to the original article!

    That lady (I forget her name) was putting words in your mouth when, among many other things, she accused you of claiming that calling yourself autistic equated to some kind of supremacy.

    However you are guilty of precisely the same mistake when you accuse Dr. B. of stating that autistics were defective and needed fixing, just because she acknowledges that some problems can exist in autism, and attempts to help people deal with things that are painful or confusing for them.

  22. Noetic March 9, 2005 at 15:21 #

    “in order to say that my “inevitably” fragmented and distorted perception (etc) means that my testimony is worthless.” [MD]

    The conclusion that fragmented perceptions make a person’s views worthless is yours, and yours alone.

    Sometimes when people get all jumped-up at the mere suggestion that autistics are, just like ALL human beings, not 100% perfect and flawless, I do wonder if it is not their own prejudices against people they perceive as “defective” and “less worthy” that cause them to accuse people left right and centre of denying autistics the right to express themselves or to be counted as sane, valuable human beings. (or similar)

    Stating that a person may experience certain things differently has absolutely NO implication on the value of their views or perceptions.

    If you insist that individual sensory problems equate to the whole person being worthless, then surely you are the one who is discriminating and looking down on people?

    I have a strong hyposensitivity to blue which often results in severe problems with night vision, in particular when street lamps or car headlights are involved (as these can at times appear very bright and take over most of my field of vision).

    Does that mean that, just because I have differing light sensitivity to most people, that I as a whole person am therefore worthless and should not be taken seriously? Am I being devalued as a human being by wearing tinted lenses (and no they are not Irlen and did not cost a fortune in the least!)?

    ALL human beings have skills and flaws.

    I feel extremely uncomfortable when people’s views are being attacked for refusing to put autistics on a pedestal.

    By all means I am 100% behind anyone who speaks out against cure attempts but I find it extremely disconcerting when people who go to great lengths to emphasise the validity of different perceptions and to remove the stigma of disorder from autism are attacked because they do not deny that autism is linked with difficulties and flaws as well as skills and abilities.

    Dr. B did not once make any statements that autistic perception is disordered, flawed, wrong or whatnot, or that all autistics by default were impaired or suffered from sensory integration dysfunction (in fact she goes to great lengths to explain that the concept of SID is flawed and merely states that it has been associated with autism – not that it equates to or explains autism).

    Her only “crime” was to describe and attempt to find solutions for difficulties that many of us very definitely do experience.

    Do you deny that such difficulties can exist, and that some people on the spectrum experience them?

  23. Michelle Dawson March 10, 2005 at 01:44 #

    Noetic is responsible for doing his/her own research. From his/her comments, Noetic either is not aware of the available material, or is aware of it and is ignoring it.

    Nor has Noetic responded in any way to the substance of what I have written. Therefore, I have nothing to respond to.

    I have not accused anyone of anything. I describe public statements, actions, and work, and some of the consequences of all this, just as I do in all my work.

    I don’t think personal insults (I am now prejudiced, etc) are useful, and they are much more informative about the insulter than the insultee.

    No Autistics Allowed is entirely dependent on the kindness of people who have allowed themselves to be recruited for the specific purpose of ruthlessly criticizing my work.

    Criticism is integral to science and law. One must deal constantly with opposing positions, which may of course be right. Both science and law carry the constant risk that you will be proved a fool. This does not happen, however, via personal insult and invective. There are rules of discourse in both science and law which are imperfect, but, if they are undertaken in good faith, result in learning on all sides, and in progress.

    Being told “because I say so”, “because I’m right”, “because I think you’re stupid/prejudiced/twisted/etc” is not the kind of discourse I have any interest in. I’m not going to learn anything except Noetic’s extremely poor opinion of me and my work, just as I learned Dr Bogdashina’s similar certainty that I am not intelligent enough and/or a good enough person to comprehend the excellence of her work.

    I would not let personal attacks go unremarked on my own comment boards. My boards are not moderated or limited in any way. However, the participants have set high standards. We do certainly criticize each other. It is possible to do this accurately and respectfully.

  24. Noetic March 10, 2005 at 13:42 #

    “Noetic is responsible for doing his/her own research. From his/her comments, Noetic either is not aware of the available material, or is aware of it and is ignoring it.”

    I have been following that thread for a few months now (on your Email group) but have not seen anything that comes even close to the kind of things you are accusing Dr. B. of.

    I have asked you repeatedly to back up those accusations – if they are actually there, surely it can’t be that hard to copy and paste them here, or to at least give me some sort of clue?

    How do you expect people to view your writings as credible, if you complain about things others alledgedly wrote, yet you refuse to back up any of these claims?

    Dr. B has only posted four or so messages in that discussion so it’s not like they are scattered over months and months or anything.

    —————-

    I also asked you to back up your claims about what Dr. B. alledgedly believes autistics to be like.

    It evades any logic to jump from her occasional references to more extreme sensory differences as “difficulties” or “deficits” to the conclusion you have come to, namely that she supposedly thinks autistics are deficient, must be treated to be made normal and that a few sensory difficulties make them and their views worthless.

    Do you seriously think just shouting louder and repeating those baseless accusations – as opposed to backing up your claims with quotes and explanations – is going to make them “become true”?

    Also, stating that someone seems prejudiced is not “a personal insult”. It is a statement of the impression I am getting from the way you interpret texts (seemingly simply because you dislike the mention of the fact that autistics – like all people – have problems and difficulties as well as skills!)

    The reason why I wrote “prejudiced” was because I am aware of how a certain expectation (in this case, of the article being by someone who is patronising and sees autistics as deficient) can blind people to what is actually written and cause them to interpret simple, clear statements as containing hidden or implied meanings and insults that plain do not exist.

    Please, I ask you one more time how you can read (as you have now stated you have done) the full set of Dr. B’s articles, including the intro below, and come to the conclusion that this person sees autistics as defective and in need of being made normal?

    “Here we try to show that �different� does not mean �abnormal� or �defective�, and �normalcy� is a very relative term, as the �norm� is often applied to the performance of majority, and it is more justifiable to term it �typical�.

    To avoid having to use the term �normal�, autistic people at Autism Network International have introduce a new term – �Neurologically Typical� (NT) to describe non-autistic people.

    Here I deliberately use the term �autistic people� rather than �people with autism� because autism is not something that is just attached to them and cannot be easily removed. I am aware of the �people first, then disability� approach.

    However, without autism they would be different people as being autistic means being different. If people with autism themselves prefer to name themselves autistic why should we be so shy to call them that? Just to show them our respect? But there are other ways to do it.

    Why should we be ashamed to call them autistic? Autism is not something to be ashamed of.

    For autistic people, autism is a way of being. It is pervasive, it colours every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion, in sort, every aspect of existence (Sinclair, 1993).

    They do not respond in a way we expect them to, because they have different systems of perception and communication

    Bob Morris (1999) calls it a different set of SPATS – Senses, Perceptions, Abilities and Thinking Systems, that are not in the same spectral range as NT individuals.

    Of course, it is very difficult to communicate with someone who uses a different �language� (and autistic people are �foreigners� in any culture). But it is equally wrong to use non-autistic methods to teach and treat autistic children. It is sure to fail and sometimes even to damage their life.

    We have to give up our conventional non-autistic assumptions and let them teach us how their SPATS work in order to build bridges between the two worlds.

    Our approach should be to listen to autistic individuals who are willing to communicate and explain how they experience the world and not to assume that only our views are right because we are specialists/parents.

    It is the same as if I said to you: �Sorry, but you speak English (French) with an accent. Let me teach you English (French) pronunciation. It doesn�t matter that I am Russian. I am a linguist so I know better than you how to speak your language properly.�

    Although in the 1960s-70s the idea of possible sensory-perceptual abnormalities as one of the core features of the disorder was put forward (Rimland, 1964) and theory of sensory dysfunction was formulated (Delacato, 1974) till recently it has been ignored by the researchers.

    What makes one wonder, is that, though unusual sensory experiences have been observed in autistic people for many years and are confirmed by autistic individuals themselves, they are still listed as an associated (and not essential) feature of autism in the main diagnostic classifications – DSM-IV (APA, 1994) and ICD-10 (WHO, 1992).

    It is worth learning how autistic individuals themselves consider the role of sensory-perceptual difficulties they experience.
    The personal accounts of autistic individuals reveal that one of the main problems they experience is their abnormal perception and many autistic authors consider autism as largely a condition relating to sensory processing.

    Understanding of the way autistic people experience the world will bring respect to people with autism in their attempts to survive and live a productive life in our world instead of unacceptance often exhibited by the general public.”
    O. Bogdashina, http://www.autismtoday.com/articles/Different_Sensory_Experiences.htm

  25. Noetic March 10, 2005 at 14:27 #

    “Noetic is responsible for doing his/her own research. From his/her comments, Noetic either is not aware of the available material, or is aware of it and is ignoring it.” [MD]

    I am not ignoring anything – I have repeatedly asked you to back up your claims about two things, and you have repeatedly evaded providing any sort of proof for those claims and backing them up or at least attempting to explain your reasoning.

    The first of these things is the claim that Dr. Bogdashina mocked you by telling you you were cognitively unable to comprehend and thus your views should be discarded. She has posted only a few posts in your Email group and I have read and re-read those over and over again and there simply is nothing that comes even remotely close to the accusations you made. Yes, I found she overreacted (jumped to conclusions and seemed a bit snappy) when she misinterpreted your question of “What Autistics?” (in response to her attempt to reassure you that what she writes about sensory issues is what autistics have explained to her and she is not just making stuff up). But that’s it.

    The only person who has (in this conversation) referred to you as stupid and “we can just ignore her views because she is dysfunctional” was yourself. If that is how you interpret factual criticism then I’m sorry but that was not my intention!

    People can say or write things I disagree with all they want, and they can misread, misunderstand or misinterpret things all they like, that does not make them stupid, unworthy or otherwise any less valuable a human being!

    I know I am NOT in the least being unreasonable to ask you to back up those claims, because when comparing what she has written and what you claim she has written, there is very little resemblance and I am utterly baffled as to where you see those insults and defamations she alledgedly made. The same goes for your interpretation of the articles on autismtoday – the things you accuse her of believing and writing simply bear no resemblance to her actual articles!

    Please, enlighten me! I am always open for factual and logical explanations, but I do not understand why you keep refusing to explain why you interpret her writings in such a way that your interpretation is almost the polar opposite of what she actually wrote.

  26. Michelle Dawson March 10, 2005 at 17:35 #

    I’ve explained myself clearly and repeatedly, with excerpts drawn directly from Dr Bogdashina’s writing. What she wrote on my comment boards is clear and speaks for itself (as I have repeatedly written).

    I have not written the things you repeatedly claim I have written. I have written the contrary in many cases, in the long and pointless discussion above.

    I can’t “prove” anything to you. because you deny what I have written on this page, as well as on my comment board. It is pointless to re-state repeatedly what I have already written. If I quote directly from a source, you claim that this source does not exist, or is wrong, or that I am not intelligent enough to understand what I have read.

    You have done exactly what Dr Bogdashina has done. She told me (more than once) that I was allied with those who have defamed me. And you have told me that I am just like a person who has defamed me.

    I can’t help you. Good day.

  27. Noetic March 10, 2005 at 19:43 #

    “I can’t “prove” anything to you. because you deny what I have written on this page, as well as on my comment board. It is pointless to re-state repeatedly what I have already written.”

    But you are accusing myself and Dr.Bogdashina of having made remarks about your cognitive abilities etc. Surely it should be possible to provide quotes of said remarks?

    I “deny” that Dr. Bogdashina ever made any statements claiming autistics to be defective because having re-read her articles time and time again I can’t find any such statements. You say she keeps calling autistics this but please I just want to see where you are reading this from?

    You are making some serious accusations here and I find it rather upsetting that you accuse me of “denying your views” solely on the basis that I “think you are stupid”. I don’t and would like to know what exactly you are referring to, because it was certainly not my intention and it is most definitely not an accurate analysis of what I have written.

    If I accused you of calling me stupid, would you just accept that and apologise for it even though you never knowingly wrote any such thing?

    Wouldn’t you at least want to know which paragraph (or wording) I was referring to? (I do and that is precisely what I am asking you do do!)

    ———

    On a side note, I do see one reason why you may have come to the conclusion about Dr. Bogdashina’s alledged view of autistics as defective.

    I do think it is likely that Dinah linked the wrong article in the first place when she mentioned it in one of her messages.

    The one she linked to is mainly about sensory
    difficulties, and while it is made clear that it is only about cases where such difficulties exist (rather than “all autistics are like this and have problems”), I can partly understand where a potential bias may have originated.

    After all anyone opening the article would have expected (as Dinah announced when she
    linked the article) a positive view on autism and instead got a discussion of specific problems that some autistics report of.

  28. Michelle Dawson March 10, 2005 at 20:22 #

    I wrote clearly that I have not accused anyone of anything. When I am guessing, e.g., when I characterized Dr Bogdashina as an “excellent researcher”, I have clearly stated this.

    The above message from Noetic shows many, many times that what I have written has not been read.

    QED, etc.

    I can only suggest again that Noetic read what has been written above, and on my comment boards. But at this point I don’t expect anything I say or do to make any difference, or to be considered.

    So long as Dr Bogdashina stands by her currently public work, which I have read in quantity, I will disagree with her. I sometimes disagree with people, including those I work with, who in turn may disagree with me.

    Noetic is free to continue insulting and misrepresenting me. S/he has done both of these things, so those are not “accusations”. I don’t mind. I have work to do, and I see there is nothing whatsoever I can write or do which will make any difference here.

  29. Noetic March 10, 2005 at 20:55 #

    “I wrote clearly that I have not accused anyone of anything. When I am guessing, e.g., when I characterized Dr Bogdashina as an “excellent researcher”, I have clearly stated this.”

    You have accused her and myself of making derogatory remarks about your cognitive abilities, and of holding dubious and derogatory views about autistics.

    ” I sometimes disagree with people, including those I work with, who in turn may disagree with me”

    Nobody has a problem with your DISAGREEMENT with their views, at least not in this and the other thread.

    My problem is that the views (of both myself and Dr. Bogdashina) which you are publically denouncing are inaccurate and inappropriate parodies of the views that have actually been expressed in writing.

    You are attempting to denounce Dr. Bogdashina’s position by attacking her alledged view that “ALL autistics are inherently flawed, need to be treated to be made normal, and always suffer from sensory aberrations that make their judgement and the autistidcs themselves worthless”.

    (Incidentally, this is a classical logical fallacy called a straw man argument, Kit Weintraub did a similar thing when she attacked your very reasonable and well-informed ABA article on the basis that your calls for respect of autistics and our right to be ourselves equated to being better than anyone else and to knowing better than all parents etc)

    You disagree with your personal interpretation of Dr. Bogdashina’s articles, not with her actual views,

    Until you can actually back up your claims that she is portraying autistics in such a fashion (by providing quotes in which she actually states that all – not just those who have reported these things to her – autistics have sensory deficits, or that we are all incompetent, flawed and defined only by deficits), I cannot begin to try and understand where your justification of these claims comes from.

  30. Noetic March 10, 2005 at 21:37 #

    “and I see there is nothing whatsoever I can write or do which will make any difference here.”

    Provide quotes that actually state the things you claim Dr. Bogdashina and myself are supposed to have written, and explain why you believe they equate to the kinds of views and insults you are insisting we hold. It’s as simple as that.

    I have read and re-read her articles many times and there is not a single instance where she makes statements to the avail of

    a) Supporting (fully) the WCC theory (She has stated she finds it useful when trying to understand a few aspects of autism, but does not agree with the attempts to squeeze all of “autism” into the theory or explain most aspects of autism)

    b) Promoting the Irlen or Tomatis theory of autism (what Irlen – I do not know about Tomatis but was under the impression it was not created with autism in mind at all – theory of autism? Even Helen Irlen makes it very clear that only some people with autism have Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome and she emphasises frequently that IF her glasses work, then they only treat SSS and do not in any way treat autism.

    c) All autistics inherently have sensory proicessing problems (she says we process things differently but only refers to this as a problem in cases where the autistic individual themselves experiences this as a problem)

    d) Being dirfferent equates to being abnormal, sub-normal, bad, dysfunctional etc. (on the contrary, she repeatedly emphasises that autistic views and experiences are just as valid as NT ones)

    e) Autistic individuals are flawed, worthless or incapable (she does mention possible difficulties but also repeatedly emphasises that different perceptions also bring many positives and that difficulties did not make a person less valuable as a human being, that autism is nothing to be ashamed of etc.)

  31. Michelle Dawson March 11, 2005 at 01:05 #

    The record (above, my comment board, Dr Bogdashina’s public writing) speaks for itself. I see no reason to add to it.

    *Bogdashina, Olga (2004)
    Possible Patterns of Visual Dysfunction in Autism and Irlen Method.
    Presented at the Eighth International Irlen Conference, Brugge, Belgium, 7-11 July 2004.

    Abstract: Unusual sensory experiences have been observed in autistic people for many years and are confirmed by personal accounts of autistic individuals. As all the senses are interconnected, the deficiency in one of them may lead to disturbances in the other(s).
    Traditionally, vision is considered on of the ‘main’ senses. In autism, visual problems are well documented. The Paradox of the condition is – despite their vision being acute it may become dysfunctional to the extent that the individuals may behave as if they were blind or disoriented. The matter is, their vision is too acute, too literal, and too accurate. The aim of this paper is to identify possible patterns of visual experiences in autism (hypersensitivity, fragmentation, distortions, etc.), the behaviours (‘blindisms@) reflecting these experiences (that may be added to the list of symptoms of SS/IS specific to autism) and possible ways to eliminate their visual problems using Irlen lenses.

  32. Michelle Dawson March 11, 2005 at 03:10 #

    I realized I have to point out that the above is just a concise, complete example. It is one of many I found in addition to the original four articles, then 14 articles, which raised the concerns I’ve written about (exactly which articles, etc, is on my comment board, complete with excerpts).

    I noticed that Dr Bogdashina is being referenced by Sheila Jennings Linehan, who is promoting the view (in this article and others) that autistics and AS people are by nature unfit parents. Like Dr Bogdashina, Ms Linehan uses extremely limited excerpted references from both the science and from autistics to publicly “prove” her point. Also like Dr Bogdashina, Ms Linehan will not cite or reference work, from autistics or the science, which contradicts her views.

    These are standards and practices I object to no matter the philosophy or degree of sympathy of those deploying them, and I object much more strongly when those deploying these standards and practices are presenting themselves as experts, whether these experts are apparently very sympathetic or clearly unsympathetic. For clarity, I gave one example of what would likely to be seen as each kind of expert, in a situation where one of the experts has referenced another of the experts. The purpose is not to say who is good and who is bad, but to show possible outcomes of specific standards and practices.

    For further clarity, my position about standards and practices is merely my opinion. It has no other value or effect. Other people do not share this opinion, and many would consider it absurd.

    There is a wide literature in the autism science about perception. Dr Bogdashina denies there is anything before Delacato (who is not in the science re autism), except for Rimland, and claims there is either nothing or very little between Delacato and herself. This is not correct. In my opinion, apart from being inaccurate, this is also disrespectful. She is telling me that the people I work with, for whom I have high regard, either do not exist, or their work merits so little respect that it simply does not exist for her.

    This again is my opinion. Other people may agree with her views.

    Sometimes things are posted online that a person no longer believes in. An example is Dr Laidler from Quackwatch, who for some time believed in special diets, vaccine theories of autism, and other DAN-type things. You can find evidence of this online. He has changed his mind about these ideas and has written clearly to this effect. He will perhaps continue to progress or change in his ideas.

    Dr Bogdashina, however, made no indication that she has distanced herself from any of her recent publicly posted work, which I quoted from. She defended this work vigorously.

    That is all I’m going to write. And I will not returning here, where my views are not welcome (or read). Continuing uselessly to add them is pointless, and I already have extensive experience in absorbing insults. I apologize for taking so much space.

  33. Kev March 11, 2005 at 08:07 #

    And I will not returning here, where my views are not welcome (or read).

    They’re both welcome and read. No one’s ever going to be made unwelcome here.

  34. Noetic March 11, 2005 at 09:24 #

    “Dr Bogdashina, however, made no indication that she has distanced herself from any of her recent publicly posted work, which I quoted from. She defended this work vigorously.”

    Of course she would – I have read and re-read the quote you gave and NOTHING in there indicates that she promotes anything nor does she refer to anything but POSSIBLE DIFFERENCES that can occur (and I seriously hope that you are not implying that scores of autistics like Donna Williams, Temple Grandin, Wendy Lawson etc. are making up the sensory processing differences they report?!?!) in autism.

    Are you deliberately ignoring the use of words like “may”, “some”, “could”, in some cases” etc. and the fact that she repeatedly emphasises that no two autistics are the same?

    Why else is your interpretation of these articles the polar opposite of what is written there and what so many (autistics, such as Wendy Lawson, Donna Williams and a LOT of folks on AS and Autism boards who have had an overwhelmingly positive response to articles I have copied or linked there) see when they read them?

    “Traditionally, vision is considered one of the ‘main’ senses. In autism, visual problems are well documented. [They are well documented, because so many autistics write or speak about them – stating that visual problems can occur in autism and that many individuals have reported these has nothing to do with stating that ALL autistics have these problems!]

    The Paradox of the condition is – despite their vision being acute it may become dysfunctional to the extent that the individuals may behave as if they were blind or disoriented.

    The matter is, their vision is too acute [isn’t this what you stated Re: hearing? Or do you accept only theories and views that promote the absolute superiority of autistic perception?], too literal, and too accurate. The aim of this paper is to identify possible patterns of visual experiences in autism “

  35. Ettina March 18, 2005 at 20:37 #

    I have a lot of respect for you, Michelle Dawson, but in this case I think I agree more with Noetic. I read the article Bogdashina wrote about Different Sensory Perception, which Noetic linked to here, and although I don’t know her that well I have to say she sounds pretty accepting of sensory differences. Read this quote:
    “Here we try to show that ‘different’ does not mean ‘abnormal’ or ‘defective’, and ‘normalcy’ is a very relative term, as the ‘norm’ is often applied to the performance of majority, and it is more justifiable to term it ‘typical’. To avoid having to use the term ‘normal’, autistic people at Autism Network International have introduce a new term – ‘Neurologically Typical’ (NT) to describe non-autistic people.”
    “However, we need to stop trying to change them into ‘normals’. The aim of any intervention should be to help autistic individuals to cope with their problems and to learn to function in the community. Whatever treatment programme or therapy is used, it does not make them “less autistic”. However, increased self-knowledge can lead to better compensations for one’s difficulties, which in turn may decrease symptoms and make the autism less disabling (Gerland, 1996).”
    However, there are some things I’ve wondering about, and I’m considering asking her to clarify them:
    “It is worth learning how autistic individuals themselves consider the role of sensory-perceptual difficulties they experience.
    The personal accounts of autistic individuals reveal that one of the main problems they experience is their abnormal perception and many autistic authors consider autism as largely a condition relating to sensory processing.”
    Also, at some points she is not very clear about whether certain sensory characteristics are universal or not, in her opinion. I’ll have to ask her.
    A number of her descriptions of sensory characteristics seem to resonate unusually well with things myself or other autistics have experienced. For example, Temple Grandin saying she can either hear everything or nothing but not in between, and the little example story of the boy asking his support assistant to stop singing certainly resonates with my experiences of my brother singing(something about his high pitched childish voice hurts my head). It’s rare that I read something by an NT which accurately describes internal experiences of an autistic. For example, http://www.autismspeaks.org has a description of autism only vaguely connected with the actual internal experience of autistics. One thing is that I’ve never heard of someone with as severe of sensory problems as they describe. And they seem to be implying that is the usual severity. I would like to clarify what I’m saying. By sensory problems, I mean only the subset of sensory differences which cause significant difficulties. For example, Irlen Syndrome is a sensory problem, but synesthesia isn’t.
    PS: If you want to e-mail me, put nkalamo in the subject line.

  36. Mike Barney February 4, 2006 at 20:34 #

    Autism is Curable. Is everyones autism curable? – maybe not. I’m not a doctor. Autism is curable (though not by pill form or surgery). I can say this with utmost confidence because my 5 year old son is living proof. I challenge any doctor, special education teacher, psycologist, autistic specalist, etc. to find threads of autism in my son. I have video, pictures, IEP reports, school district evaluations, doctor evaluations, special education reports, and interviews with those who knew and worked with my son since birth to present. Result – Extreme autism to typical child. What defines autism? Simply remove those traits (all of them) and your’ve cured autism. Someone who once stuttered but no longer does no longer has a speech impetiment. Someone who is sick with a cold is defined by thier symptoms. Is that person still sick when he no longer coughs, when his throat no longer hurts, etc.? At what point does he no longer have a cold? At what point is someone no longer autistic? – When there are no more traits, characteristics of symptoms.

  37. Bartholomew Cubbins February 4, 2006 at 21:39 #

    I think everyone here is happy that you’re happy with your child’s progress. If calling development a cure makes you sleep well at night, then sweet dreams.

    If you’re interested in discovering why comparing autism to a cold doesn’t really mean anything, then take a jog over to the science forum.

    http://www.kevinleitch.co.uk/forum/index.php

  38. Kev February 5, 2006 at 11:20 #

    _”Simply remove those traits (all of them) and your’ve cured autism”_

    What traits have you removed that believe made your son autistic?

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