Friday, November 18, 2011

Autism Community Collectivism Finally Made Me Snap

                I’m a libertarian. I don’t buy into the majority-minority us versus them paradigm. Like, at all. I don’t think words have as much power as actions and I’m not going to be joining any cause to ban the “R” word any time soon. I don’t think free speech should be curbed in any way, shape, or form. I think we should rely on charity over the government for financial help in an emergency.  These traits and beliefs I possess are essential to who I am. They also make for awkward conversations within the autism community.
                Like when Sam Harris made some kinda odd statements about how Objectionism is like Autism. And all the autists were offended by being compared to Objectionists. Well. Gee. Ayn Rand was definitely a flawed woman, but she changed my freaking life with her philosophies on free trade, self esteem, personal responsibility and personal achievement. So I was a little offended at everyone being offended by Sam’s comparison, although people were mostly right to assume he was using the word “autism” when he MEANT “narcissism” (I’m not really sure what a neuroscientist does or studies, since he seems a little clueless about neurological issues such as “autism” and “narcissism” but whatever…) I bit my tongue on that one, because my political philosophies were hardly the point when what we were talking about was respect (although maybe the narcissists, who are just as biologically preconditioned to be narcissistic as autists are preconditioned to be autistic, would also object to us having a hissy fit over the comparison. But that’s a little philosophical for here, I guess.)
                There was the time I got into an unintentional argument with an autist who publicly denounced a pretty benign post by a parent of autistic children when I asked  just what was so offensive about what she wrote. Instead of an explanation, I was told that “If I couldn’t see what was wrong with it, then I am probably part of the privileged group that is so confident of its utter superiority that it’s invisible to you when someone writes about adults with autism with contempt.” Someone quickly chimed in to explain that I was lacking common courtesy and decency by not treating those with autism as if they are in a protected class, and not treading lightly enough so as to avoid any hurt feelings. Hmm. Just… asking… a question… that’s all… treating everybody as an individual with equal footing is obviously not the goal of acceptance??
                Most recently, however, I got a lil riled up about some anti-treatment bullshit on the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. Listen. Come to me with some facts about why you hate ABA. Come to me with a reasonable anecdote. Tell me it’s your choice for your child, and you choose to stay away from the strongly structured, therapist-directed approach of ABA in favor for something else. For sure, I’ve read studies that pretty much suggest ANY intensive (several hours a day/several days a week) behaviorally based (conventional learning, Floortime, Early Start Denver Model) approach to teaching children with autism seems to have wonderful effects. Temple Grandin is right that it basically boils down to “The worst thing you can do is let your toddler veg out in front of the TV all day.” But when I hear criticism of empirically tested methods of ABA with absolutely no backing, expect me to speak out. And when the anti-treatment argument finally boils down to a clear misunderstanding of the role of a parent (and the role of a child) in the parent-child relationship, I think my rebuttal, inarticulate as it may be, is pretty relevant to the conversation. Parents ARE the boss of children. If adult children cannot function alone in society, sometimes parents will continue to be the boss of adult children. It’s not a human rights issue. It’s a biological issue.
                So, I guess I am a little unsure how to proceed from here. I’m getting bored with the walking-on-eggshells routine. I suppose I’m not popular enough to worry too much about losing my audience, heh.  I don’t mean to come off argumentative just because I’m outspoken, but (shrug) so be it. Much love to everyone—I have no hate in my heart. Always up for a debate and I am pretty open to new ideas, but I grow weary of those who want to scold me for having a different opinion.


  1. Yeah, Iv'e decided the eggshell thing does nothing but perpetuate more anxiety for those of us who have enough already. I'm fed up with indulging people who have a sense entitlement that goes beyond disability. Actually i feel they are exploiting disability to monopolise these discussions. They are a small minority though. Got to keep these things in perspective.

  2. Yep! Thanks for saying so, I am terribly disappointed in myself for being sucked into the animosity. I hope in the future I can state my opinions with grace and people can either take it or leave it.