Tag Archive | "autism"

Jonathan Mitchell: Reflections Before the Election


NOTE FROM WALLACE: This note was penned by Jonathan Mitchell, prominent autism advocate, before the recent US election result. I think this piece is of good historical interest, as it captures some of the uncertainty and anxiety in the air at that time.

***

The election is today and I’ve already cast my vote. I wanted to make a blog post before it ends tomorrow.

Donald Trump believes that autism is caused by vaccines. I think he may also believe in a government conspiracy. He also mocked a disabled reporter which means he mocked me and all other disabled people. Read the full story

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Male/Female Sex Ratios and Neurodiversity Revisited (2/2)


One of the problems with this line of thinking is that similar ratios have been reported in other developmental disorders. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, intellectual disabilities, and stuttering are among those. The social problems of autism do not exist in these conditions and it would be a lot harder to hide them; a dyslexic either has difficulty reading or doesn’t, a stutterer either talks fluently or doesn’t. Read the full story

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Male/Female Sex Ratios and Neurodiversity Revisited (1/2)


One of the hot topics in autism lately has been skepticism over the reported ratio of autism in males versus females. Ever since autism was first described, an approximately 4:1 male:female ratio has been reported. This started with Kanner’s initial paper with eight boys and three girls and Asperger’s first paper which had four boys and no girls. Read the full story

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Fellow Asperger’s People: ‘Society’ Owes You Nothing


Here, I am quoting some of my tweets from November 14, 2016.

You can probably guess what facets of my identity motivate these tweets.

If you have autism, ‘Society’ owes you nothing! Read the full story

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October Surprise from Autism Speaks: They No Longer Want a Cure? (2/2)


Last time:

After the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed piece by Steve Silberman that included the analogy between autism speaks and the NAACP that I wrote about above, Liz Feld, Autism Speaks CEO, responded urging the autism community to work together. This was years after not responding to repeated criticism by the neurodiversity movement, including that they were eugenicists whose only goal was to find a pre-natal test for autism and urge the abortion of autistic fetuses.

The essay continues:

Another significant event took place. Suzanne Wright contracted pancreatic cancer. This was so difficult for their family, that the Wright’s resigned from the autism speaks board and others took over. This made Steve Shore believe that autism speaks was now a safe haven and after some years of unsuccessfully trying to recruit him for their board of directors, he finally decided to get on board and become a team player. Valerie Paradiz who has stated that she has Asperger’s was the second autistic board member to be appointed by Autism Speaks. Valerie has not only been an opponent for a cure for autism, she stated at least according to one media source that autism is not a disability but a strength. Read the full story

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October Surprise from Autism Speaks: They No Longer Want a Cure? (1/2)


WALLACE’S NOTE: Although the following story is about the ‘October Surprise’ from Autism Speaks, the decision in question may have some long term implications.

Autism speaks has published a new mission statement:

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

Saliently absent is the word “cure” from their mission statement which they had in the past: Read the full story

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Glossy News Contributor Book Showcase 3: Jonathan Mitchell’s ‘The Mu Rhythm Bluff’


Here is the final ebook in this current run of showcases. We’ll have another run in the near future. Here, we have the autism advocate Jonathan Mitchell, and his novel the Mu Rhythm Bluff!

***

Some people are lucky at cards. Others are lucky at love. Drake Dumas is autistic and neither. He’s a 49-year-old virgin who loves to play poker and usually loses. He finds out about an experiment involving brain wave training and a revolutionary technique called Transcranial magnetic stimulation in order to help mitigate his autism. Read the full story

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Has Autism Given me the Gift of Prophecy?


Some persons on the autism spectrum have extraordinary talents and abilities.  These are known as savant skills.  Rainman’s ability to count through an eight deck shoe in blackjack became well-known after the movie of the same name came out.  One individual I went to special ed with could tell you what day of the week any date of the year was.  More amazingly, he could tell you exactly what he’d done that day.  Jerry Newport’s ability to multiply four digit sums in his head were also well known and helped land a movie based on his life’s story, Mozart and the Whale.  Stephen Wiltshire’s drawing ability is also well known.  Others have extraordinary musical abilities.

Bernard Rimland conducted a survey and estimated that ten percent of spectrumites have savant skills.  Researcher Patricia Howlin thought that his estimate was far too conservative and claimed that it was possible that as many as thirty percent of autistic people have some sort of savant skill.  Darold Treffert, an expert on savantism, stated that her figure was probably based on a liberal definition of what defines a savant.

Until recently, I felt left out that I was in the ninety percent of autistic individuals (or seventy percent if you take stock in Howlin’s more liberal estimate) who have no special talents or savant abilities.  In one week from today I will be sixty-one years old and amazingly enough it took me that long to realize that I actually have a savant skill-the gift of prophecy.

Let me elaborate.  The small number of you who have actually followed my blog know that autism has handicapped me in two ways.  It has seriously compromised my ability to make a living.  I’m likely in the Guinness Book of World Records for most jobs fired from.  I have not worked in nearly ten years.  I have also never had a girlfriend and my intensity and relentless negativity has been a turnoff to them.  Some of you may also recall my quote of Freud’s stating that to work and to love are cornerstones of our humanity.  Ergo, I have felt autism stripped me of my humanity.  I’ve discovered that when this issue comes up I can predict what people will advise me to do about these problems and their general comments on these issues.  I can also predict what a neurodiversity proponent will say is the reason I hate my autism so much. This must mean I have the gift of prophecy.

Multiple people have advised me to disclose my disability to perspective employers.  This will solve my problems of being fired.  They will say to themselves “that explains it” if I make a funny movement with my hand instead of being prejudiced against me.  If I make too many careless errors, they will say “that’s all right his autism explains it” or they will make a better effort to work with me.  Or that the Americans with Disabilities Act gives me the right to ask for accommodations and the employer will grant me these accommodations, they’ll work and problem solved.  Ari Ne’eman has even gone so far to state that all social unpleasantries that autistic people commit in the workplace should be completely overlooked.  I get fed up with explaining to them that if there is something the employer does not like about me, they are going to fire me and they won’t overlook errors and knowing I have an autism diagnosis won’t matter.  Also that the Americans with Disabilities Act only gives me the right to ask for reasonable accommodations and being able to go more slowly or asking to put up with loudness and behavior they don’t like aren’t reasonable accommodations under the law.

As far as not having a girlfriend is concerned I should find someone “like myself”, a polite way of saying I’m not suited for a non-handicapped woman and “mixed marriages” are taboo.  Or some unabashedly state “find an autistic girlfriend”.  It does not matter that the ratio of autistic men to autistic women on the milder spectrum is 10 to 1 and at least nine out of ten guys are going to be unlucky.  Actually the number is probably greater than that since “mixed marriages” between a handicapped woman and non-handicapped man aren’t as taboo.  Not to mention the fact that the most desirable autistic women will have no trouble finding a non-autistic man and most of them will prefer them to the autistic man (barring extraordinary exceptions like Mike Carley and John Robison of course).

According to many neurodiversity proponents the reason I don’t believe my autism is a beautiful thing and I’m not celebrating is that I had a horrible domineering mother who taught me to hate myself.  Because she wanted a “normal” child, I somehow sensed this and when I could not make her happy I ended up hating my autism. She’s been called overbearing, domineering, a witch and a shrew by at least some of these people.  It has nothing to do with the fact that it prevents me from living a normal life, being able to make a living or having friends and girlfriends and I have the uncontrollable compulsion to twiddle during the day.  Interestingly enough I actually lived through the Bettelheim era in the sixties where I and my parents had to hear this and castration anxiety was at least in part thought to be the etiology of my disability so it is nothing new for me.

I only wished that I’d known about this savant skill I have earlier.  I would have been able to predict the weather and earthquakes and save lives.  I would have been able to make a fortune playing the ponies.  I would have been an expert poker player able to predict exactly what cards would fall and know what hands to play.

Perhaps it’s not too late, even at my advanced age.  I could work on it and practice and develop this skill or maybe I could get TMS like John Robison did and it would stimulate the right brain areas and then I could actually bring out this latent ability.

Well, in spite of all the hardships that autism has caused me I guess I can take solace in the fact that I have the gift of prophecy.

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Autism: Advantage with Women & Aphrodisiac? Autism Can Land You a Hot Girlfriend


Autism diagnoses started to soar in the 1990s and those new cases are now adults in their early twenties.  Society and the media have noted the need for employers to hire those on the spectrum.  This has lead to major media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times publishing articles on how autism is an advantage in the workplace and how it can land you a job.  Read the full story

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Autism and the Single Life: Humorous Quotes to take the Sting out of Celibacy


Celibacy is a real problem for many autistic males. You don’t get to hear about it much because the powers that be only publicizes writings of successful autistics like Stephen Shore who can get married and Temple Grandin, a female who claims to be celibate by choice. The problems of the invisible autistic adult are ignored and people act like autistics remain Peter Pans.

Most of the internet autistics do not write much about this problem. Trust me, it is there, it exists. Read the full story

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Neurodiversity Bloggers, Autism and Violence


Note from Wallace:

This blog post from October 2015 remains thought-provoking. For my part, I would suggest that beatifying us autistic folks is no more reasonable (or realistic and practical) than demonizing us.

***

The mass shooting in Oregon by Chris Harper Mercer and his mother’s publicly writing about his autism diagnosis have stirred controversy in the autism community as to whether or not his autism was responsible for the mass murder of innocent people.  A facebook page was created implying that numerous autistic people were shooters and that autism is associated with violent crime and murder.  After a plethora of protests and petitions, Facebook removed the page.  In response, there were a flurry of articles published on the internet by a list of authors that reads like a who’s who list of some of the most prominent members of the neurodiversity movement, including Michael John Carley, Emily Willingham and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Matt Carey of the Left Brain Right Brain blog.   The common theme of these articles is that there is no association whatsoever between autism and violence.

Renowned writer Andrew Solomon also weighed in, writing in a new york times article about autism shooters, asking why no one was suggesting diabetes and pattern baldness as causes of mass shootings if they were suggesting autism was one.  See Gadfly’s answer toward the end of the post.

This is nothing new.  The Newgate shootings of Adam Lanza less than three years ago are still fresh in the minds of most people, particularly Lanza’s diagnosis of Asperger’s.  Well-known neurodiversity advocate John Elder Robison was quick to write a response absolving autism for blaming murderous behavior.  The IACC, which has had several members of the neurodiversity movement (and zero pro-cure autistics) serving on it since its inception also wrote an article disputing the association between autism and violence after the Lanza shootings.

Aside from the fact that all of these writers advocate neurodiversity, another common denominator in all these pieces is the nearly complete neglect to cite any scientific evidence that there is absolutely no association between autism and violent crime.  The trivial exception to that being Carey’s citing a study by  Ghaziuddin and the studies by Mouridsen in Denmark purporting not to show an association between autism and violence.  These were the three publications cited by the IACC’s statement on the Sandyhook shooting.

What does the actual literature show?  One of the problems of Ghaziuddin’s report was that he only did literature reviews of isolated cases and neglected to check court records to ascertain the relationship between autism and violence.  This is an old paper nearly twenty-five years old.  What do other more recent publications have to say? Only the abstract of Mouridsen’s 2012 paper is available online and I have not been able to read the entire paper.  One limitation of his 2008 paper is that it only includes convictions and not arrest data such as cases of people on the spectrum that were thrown out for lack of evidence, let alone killers who committed suicide.

Are these writers correct that there is no general association between autism and violent crime, particularly murder?  The short answer is probably yes, though it is still questionable (at least to Gadfly) how much is known about the prevalence of violence in autism spectrum disorders.

However, even if there is no clear-cut association between autism and violence and the vast majority of autistic persons are not prone to violence, particularly murder, could there be a subset of those on the spectrum who are predisposed to violence and murder as a result of their brain dysfunction, including co-morbid mental conditions that appear in addition to the symptoms of the ASD?  The answer to this question appears to be yes also.

Various case studies have been reported in the literature that gives suggestive evidence (though not specific proof of this).  For example Baron-Cohen reported on a 21-year-old man who would take a knife to his 71-year-old girlfriend.  Psychiatrist Donna Schwartz-Watts cites three case histories of individuals on the spectrum who committed murder.  She concludes their illness was in fact related to their crimes.  Newman and Ghaziuddin(author of the original 1991 study concluding there was no relationship between ASD’s and crime), in the journal of autism and developmental disorders, stated that there was a relationship between some forms of autism with premorbid psychiatric conditions and certain violent crimes (I have not read this article, but the reports on it).

Psychologist Matt Lerner writes about how theory of mind, impulsivity and other problems may in fact be related to violent crime in some (emphasis added) autistic individuals.

Though the research in this area may have its limitations and not come to any definite conclusions, it would suggest that there is a small subset of persons on the autism spectrum who are predisposed to violent acts, including mass murder.  Part of the reason for this may be comorbid psychiatric conditions such as schizoaffective disorder, depression, bipolar, and other things that accompany some of the many forms of autism.

To answer Andrew Solomon’s question.  Diabetes and pattern baldness are not brain conditions that affect behavior, autism is.  There is no comorbidity with mental disorders documented in diabetes and pattern baldness the way there has been in autism.  It’s another neurodiversity comparison between apples and hurricanes.

The neurodiversity movement often try to separate comorbidity from autism, saying that the seizure disorders that accompany autism are separate from the autism itself.  We should just regard this as epilepsy and not part of the individual’s autism.  Even if the research proves that some mass murderers have a form of autism with comorbidities, they will state that it is these comorbidities that are the culprit and not the autism per se.  However, I believe when epilepsy and comorbidities exist they are all a part of one brain disorder with the autism being one symptom.  I don’t believe you can separate one from another.  They are all part and parcel for the course.  Therefore, I suspect it is likely that in a small number of cases (though not the vast majority) there is an association between murder and autism.  I concede that further research may have to be done to completely validate that conclusion.  However, I don’t think it is helpful for members of the ND movement and others to claim there is no association whatsoever between autism and murder when at least some scientific evidence would seem to contradict them.

 

 

 

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What Happens When a Satirist Feels Uncomfortable at the Satire of Others?


AUTHOR’S NOTE: I can’t seem do the links correctly for these (in bold) Tried using wordpress function, but trial run was unsatisfactory. Please do them for me?

EDITOR’S NOTE: No problem. Now I just have to figure out how to delete these damn notes to each other here up top.

At the risk of egregious flattery to my colleagues, my favorite satire outlet I write for is Glossynews. And I once wrote the following piece, which actually means a lot to me. [a href=”http://glossynews.com/entertainment/television/201410120242/autistic-savants-inspiring-says-cable-tv-diversity-pimp/”>It is THIS one. Read the full story

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ISIS: The Autistic Brother of Al-Qaeda


ISIS: The world’s number one autistic brainchild, the same one which refused to continue living with his older brother, Al-Qaeda, is now in some deep trouble with the United States and Russia.

After beheading a journalist in the lands of SandVillage, their only option for attention was death. Geez, talk about needy.

To make things worse, the group continued with a follow-up decapitation video personally sent to Prince Barack Obama of Nigeria. A representative of the White House spoke with the press regarding this issue stating: Read the full story

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“Autistic Savants Inspiring,” Says Cable TV Diversity Pimp


Surprisingly, it just so happens that crappy low-budget cable shows have given in to the perpetual “progressive pressure” that is self-indulgently and self-promotingly applied by a certain variety of limousine-liberal, ivory-tower benefactor known as a “diversity expert.”

Yes: the PC cause du jour of Big Disability, to wit, giving autistic/Asperger’s people “more representation” in the media, is one that Big Cable is pretty damn down with. Although obviously, letting us “special folks” speak for OURSELVES is quite clearly not on the menu. Have a look at what the following highly talented and benevolent television personality had to say… Read the full story

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Woman Narrowly Avoids Animal Cruelty Conviction, Helps Change Law


In a surprise verdict in Stoughton District Court yesterday, Alessa Maslansky, 47, of Canton, Massachusetts, was found not guilty of charges relating to fitting her neighbour’s dog with a shock collar in an effort to prevent what she called ‘its incessant barking’. Continue reading

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How I Successfully Trolled Ali G’s Cousin


A few days ago, for some reason, I was thinking on how to get my revenge on an Autism researcher who knows nothing about his subject and completely eclipses a woman who does, when a really wicked thought came to me. Email!

Now, unless someone is a confirmed Luddite like Richard O’Brien, for example, the likelihood is that they will have an email address, and this becomes a cerainty if they work at a university as my target does. Read the full story

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