Evil neurodiverse rising

25 Feb

Sometimes there’s a sea-change in the atmosphere that you can just sense and following a recent unprecedented few days for autism acceptance I can feel one of those sea changes.

Things kicked off with Jeanette’s family appearance on a US show called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (very extreme. I understand they literally knock down your old house and build you a new one!). Jeanette has a wealth of experience as an autism mum – 16 years to be precise. I’ll quote from her blog post about the whole experience:

The only positive we wanted to show out of Extreme Makeover was that our children were awesome….and the producer’s made sure that happened. Through them and Ty, Paige, Eduardo, Paulie, and Tanya the world saw that autism is not a disability…we truly thank them for that.

Jeanette, like me, used to believe dire things about autism as I understand it but, again like me, has weathered those storms and come out the other side.

Next up was Amanda’s appearances. First in New Scientist. The New Scientist piece starts with:

“Far from being purposeless, the way that I move is an ongoing response to what is around me,” says the robotic voice that narrates her typed words. The class reacts emotionally – not out of pity but in response to Baggs’s proud and moving appeal for viewers to recognise “the existence and value of many different kinds of thinking”.

(Overall the article is not great but its an acceptable first step maybe).

But Amanda’s next appearance was even better – a two part segment over two nights on a CNN show called Anderson Cooper. Amanda was interviewed by a guy called Sanjay Gupta who blogged his impressions in a (badly) entitled piece: ‘Behind the veil of autism’. A more accurate title would’ve been ‘Behind the veil society has placed in front of autism thus far’. But possibly not so snappy.

It really started me wondering about autism. Amanda is obviously a smart woman who is fully aware of her diagnosis of low-functioning autism, and quite frankly mocks it. She told me that because she doesn’t communicate with conventional spoken word, she is written off, discarded and thought of as mentally retarded. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I sat with her in her apartment, I couldn’t help but wonder how many more people like Amanda are out there, hidden, but reachable, if we just tried harder.

Dr Gupta is using a form of words I might not choose myself but he is at least thinking now and encouraging others to think about the reality of the autistic experience as perceived by autistic people.

I personally think this was an incredibly brave thing for Amanda to have done. She has revealed herself and her home to the eyes of the whole world and I hope that the changes in routine and accompanying stress have not been too much for her. Anyone who chooses to visit Amanda’s blog should know that she’s taking a break to regroup but you are free to leave comments.

ABC recently presented a broadside on our self-obsessed Western cultures entitled ‘Should Parents Worry About Vaccinating Their Children? Fears of Vaccinations Rise, Diseases Reemerge’.

On internet sites, Walther read so many horror stories about vaccines, that so she postponed vaccinating her daughter, Mary Catherine. “Some of the vaccine stories said that if I had my child vaccinated they were going to die of SIDS,” she said. “I’m very protective of my children, I don’t want to do something to them that might cause them harm.” But not vaccinating caused harm. Mary Catherine got very sick with spinal meningitis.

There’s a very simple and easy to understand fact here and its a fact that groups like the NAA, Generation Rescue, SafeMinds, A-CHAMP etc miss again and again: they are urging people not to vaccinate either explicitly or implicitly. This is having an effect on vaccine uptake rates. As uptake rates fall, incidents where people are injured or are dying from vaccine preventable diseases is rising.

In the UK, following the Wakefield induced mass hysteria MMR uptake fell to 70% in some parts of the country. In 2004 mumps cases in the England and Wales rose from 4,204 in 2003 to 16,436. In the _the first month_ of 2005, there were nearly 5,000 cases.

In 2004, authorities predicted that 12% of all cases of MMR related diseases would require hospitalisation. In March 2005, that prediction came true as – out of the 72 reported measles cases -9 were serious enough to require hospitalisation. One boy died from measles. The first measles related fatality in over 10 years in the UK.

The afore mentioned groups can take those figures and those injuries and deaths to their hearts. They are partly responsible. Thank goodness John Stossel has joined the clamour of media figures willing to see this for what it is:

I told McDowell [a vaccine injury lawyer] I thought he was part of the Fear Industrial Complex, scaring people and making money off of it. After a long pause, he said, “True.”

McDowell is simply one of many quacks, ambulance chasers and hysterical flat earthers out there. They had their 15 minutes of fame, failed to come up with any convincing evidence and deserve nothing but recriminations. Anyone who has made money from this scenario should be ashamed of their part in the death and injury of people but as I know from speaking to this class of people – they won’t be.

10 Responses to “Evil neurodiverse rising”

  1. susan senator February 25, 2007 at 11:57 #

    “‘Behind the veil society has placed in front of autism thus far’. But possibly not so snappy.”

    This made me smile pre-coffee!
    My suggestion:
    “Beneath our Assumptions: Autism as a Way of Being.”

    Long live the Evil Neurodiverse!

  2. Jeanette February 25, 2007 at 17:34 #

    Hi Kevin,
    The journey I have taken with autism has brought me to Neurodiversity. It took me almost 14 years to get here, and I learned alot of mistakes along the way, namely listening to Doctors (who in the end, just wanted my money).
    When reading the AW Forum, as I do every day, I thought the parent’s of newly diagnosed children should learn both sides. I have also learned who the more sane parent’s are….
    No more do I care who I upset with my views, but I will do it without name-calling and hatred….maybe a little bit of sarcasm, but that is me after all….

  3. Do'C February 25, 2007 at 17:36 #

    All great stuff Kev. I thought Grinker’s Feb 2oth interview on NPR was interesting too.

  4. Emmanuel February 25, 2007 at 19:09 #

    I’m telling you, this is proof that the neurodiverse control the media!


  5. kristina February 25, 2007 at 20:10 #

    What a list!

    Great round-up of yet another interesting week about autism issues.

  6. mom-nos February 25, 2007 at 21:11 #

    I wish I’d known that about the Extreme Makeover episode before it aired. I avoided it on purpose, wrongly assuming that it would be the next in a series of “these poor, poor people have to live with autism every day.”

    I did see Amanda’s first appearance on Anderson Cooper, which was fantastic. And I happened to catch the vaccine piece on ABC as well. I’m not always a fan of John Stossel, but I appreciated his perspective on this one.

  7. mike stanton February 26, 2007 at 00:17 #

    Yes, indeed, the times they are a-changing. And Do’C adds the latest dose of sanity from Morton Ann Gernsbacher on his blog.

  8. Joseph February 26, 2007 at 00:51 #

    Those are good signs. Advocacy through blogs and other means probably helped. (Certainly, Amanda’s did).

    A bit off topic – whatever happened to Jim Adams’ chelation study? He was supposed to announce results by the end of 2006, and he assured he would announce them whatever they were.

  9. anonimouse February 26, 2007 at 14:30 #

    I liked Stossel’s article. Barbara Loe Fisher is an anti-vaccine loon who tries pathetically to wrap her looniness under the cloak of “parental choice”. I’m glad Stossel called her out on that.

  10. wendy buisine March 1, 2007 at 00:38 #

    H, I dont normally participate in these conversations, prefering to read everyone elses emails!!! Bit chicken I suppose. So I thought Id give it a go and join in. Got a lot to say but just wanted to check that this works first. Look forward to conversing soon!!! xxxx

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