Autism Science Foundation, Science and Sandwiches

14 May

May 12th saw the first ‘science and sandwiches’ day. Featuring Dr. Ami Klin of Yale who recently published in Nature, the day was session was apparently a great success.

I was heartened to see ASAN‘s Ari Ne’eman in attendance as this reinforced my opinion that ASF are determined to include autistic people and listen to an autistic agenda. Further reinforcement came from the reporting page on the ASF website:

Discussion revolved around this new work’s [Klin’s study] role in both diagnosis and treatment, as well as the importance of respecting the individuality of people with autism.

Inserts mine

Good. Very good to hear. Two thumbs up. Excellent. Round of applause. Should I go on…? No, possibly not.

Anyway, this has been a good year for autistic advocacy I think. A major website has actively sought out and employed an autistic writer for its autism pages and now what will be a major scientific force within autism is listening directly to autistic people. Long may it continue.

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3 Responses to “Autism Science Foundation, Science and Sandwiches”

  1. aneeman May 15, 2009 at 01:27 #

    I attended as a member of the public, as anyone else can. The discussion was interesting and varied, but I would hardly say that my attendance at a public event is indicative that ASF is committed to hearing Autistic voices.

    Kevin, I’ve told you this privately before, and since you choose to use my name to cheerlead an organization which – while I have my hopes – is still very far from making any kind of meaningful commitment to being one of the good guys, I’m forced to tell you this again publicly: a shared distaste for the anti-vaccine movement does not an alliance make. There are many enemies of Autistic people who have nothing to do with the anti-vax perspective – and, I might add, people who hold the anti-vaccine perspective who may yet prove useful to the Autistic self-advocate community. This regrettable cheerleading you are engaging on behalf of an organization that has yet to undertake a single meaningful act except share a common enemy with our community is not something I want my name attached to and it isn’t something that I think is in our community’s best interests.

    ASF should be judged based on its willingness to undertake meaningful commitments to hear from Autistic people at all levels of its infrastructure and both neurodiversity and Autistic self-advocacy deserve to be considered as more than buzzwords for opposing the anti-vaccine movement.

  2. Louise Bach Capps May 15, 2009 at 13:56 #

    I appreciate the fact that Kev is optimistic about the ASF, and I certainly wouldn’t use the pejorative term “cheerleading” to describe his coverage. He has made it clear in prior posts that, in his opinion, the jury is still out on the ASF.

    The ASF is a science-based autism organization. By loudly rejecting the idea that autistic people are poisoned and damaged, they have already done a lot of good for the autism community. Every group cannot be all things to all people, so I’m keen to allow this group to follow their mission, which is to take the “woo” out of the autism discussion.

    I disagree that the ASF should be judged on how well it listens to autistic people. Because their mission is science, I think they should be judged on their ability to fund quality research and disseminate the results to the general public.

    A paranoid, demanding approach to an organization like the ASF is counter-productive. They will not be stopping autistic people from self-advocating. If some autistic people want to team up with “useful” anti-vaccinationists, that’s their prerogative. But you can count me out.

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