Friday, August 18, 2006

A Different Type Of Minority?

Abfh found an article titled Alone in autism – unfortunately including what has become a standard negative portrayal of autism, including the all-too-familiar scenario of a parent considering the murder/suicide of an autistic child.

Like Abfh's post, this post is not about the article either, but about the comments posted by readers. In particular, I think comments by Mary Grace are note-worthy. Mary Grace is a teenager diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, who is herself featured in the article.

Mary Grace argued that autism can have "horrible disadvantages" and that this justifies a pro-cure position in regards to autism. She further stated that "there are probably dozens of stories where poor social skills have resulted in people being jailed or worse." When I try to discern the merit of an argument such as this, I prefer to think in analogies. So I mentioned that being black can entail "horrible disadvantages", particularly if we go back in history, and that being black has resulted in people being jailed or worse.

Mary Grace replied to my analogy as follows:

You don't have to do anything to be seen as black, it's just there. Social skills are different. They aren't always obvious as present or absent at first, and they can be improved upon. If a person with poor social skills (not necessarily AS, just poor in general) is arrested, aren't they more likely to show the worst of their traits and get themselves in more trouble? Social skills are important for anybody to have, and because of the nature of AS, we have to work extra hard. It's noit fair, but that doesn't change it. And I would like to emphasize that I most certainly do NOT buy into stigmatization of anyone for any reason, but I do acknowledge that stigmatization exists. And it does exist against people with poor social skills, and, as you said, against people of certain races. You can't change your race. But you can improve your social skills. That's where your arguement fails, I'm afraid. And it does suck to have poor social skills, or at least it sucked for me. I'm much happier now.


Essentially, Mary Grace argues that autistics are a different type of minority to blacks or gays or women or disabled minorities. If you are black, you can't do anything about that. If you are blind, there's not much you can do about it either in terms of regaining sight. But if you are autistic, and suffer due to your lack of social skills, you can work on improving your social skills.

Certainly, if you want to improve a skill, you can practice it. I'm a big believer in hard work and in that if you want to become better at something, you study it, and you practice, practice, practice. So what's wrong with this argument?

First of all, it is necessary to acknowledge that the world is full of physical limitations. I could practice basketball 10 hours a day for years and never become anywhere near as good as Michael Jordan. This is an example taken to the extreme, but it serves to illustrate that practice is not necessarily sufficient, and this applies even when trying to attain a "normal" level of skill. To presume that it is possible to achieve just about anything through hard work is wishful thinking. Optimism is a good thing, but unrealistic expectations are unhelpful.

Second, Mary Grace seems to suggest that autistic people have a responsibility to work hard on their social skills for their own good and for the common good. But is this the right thing to work for? Mary Grace says that black people cannot become less black, but I don't think this is even true. (Readers might be thinking of Michael Jackson at this point, but that's not what I mean). Couldn't black people "act white" so they can be more easily assimilated into white culture? Couldn't gays work hard at being attracted to the opposite sex? (There are behavioral interventions available). Should women who want to succeed in the work place act more like men in order to achieve their aims?

The deaf community has had to go through a similar debate, i.e. should deaf people be taught to sign and become part of deaf culture, or be taught oral methods (including lipreading) so that they can participate in the larger culture? My understanding is that deaf people, as a rule, favor manual methods. See Arguments in favor of Oralism are refuted by Manualists and Oral vs. Manual Debate.

Mary Grace also says she's happier now that she's learned social skills and is able to pass for normal. It's a good thing that she feels happy with herself and I don't want to imply otherwise. But it's also an experience contrary to that of other autistics, who say that when they stopped trying to fit in and started to accept what they were and no longer saw autism as a horrible thing, they became less depressed and anxious and so on.

Finally, while I disagree with Mary Grace, I just want to say that some of the responses she got, questioning her diagnosis, are out of line. This was debated already in Who can call themselves autistic? over at Ballastexistenz.

33 comments:

  1. Good points here. Feeling compelled to pass for a non-autistic can also entail horrible disadvantages, as illustrated by the essay Let's Pretend.

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  2. That's a good one. There's another one at the Autism Information Library on the same subject: Faking NT vs. Being Yourself.

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  3. The Welsh too are clearly a differnet kind of minority, they did not have to cling to there language, it would have gone so much nicer for many of them if they had have lernt proper English instead.

    I dunno that there is any difference between an autistic minority and any other misunderstood and mistreated minority. That writer wants to get immersed in disability culture and history to see what a vacuos argument she is putting forth.

    I no more want to be cured than a pig wants to be butchered and hung up to dry for bacon.

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  4. The Welsh too are clearly a differnet kind of minority, they did not have to cling to there language...

    Their Lord they shall praise,
    Their speech they shall keep,
    Their land they shall lose,
    Except wild Wales.

    (Said to be a prophecy of Merlin's)

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  5. Speaking as an aspgers teenager that is anti-cure, I'd just like to say

    First that (obviously) not all AS teens want to be NT.

    Second my social skill vastly improven after I redfined myself and became more comforatable with being autistic.

    Thirdly I did become happier once I'd discovered who I really was. (I spent a year refusing to accept it and avoiding getting diagnoised)

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  6. Joseph, just seen your responses on JBJr's blog... man, I hate to see you being treated like rubbish there, but JBJr's talking to himself on there (now seemingly, he has three different IDs there...) and making you look like a serious minority. Sad, but he can't think of any other way to try to discredit you than to try to use numbers and false IDs (can't be KC and SueM... even their styles of ranting are not that obviously deficient in ... well, style, I suppose).

    Can I make a recommendation?

    It's best these days not to bother with him: he's not amenable to learning anything, and he doesn't care who he offends, or who he abuses in order to make himself look big.

    Sad narcisists are like that. And the best treatment for them is to ignore them.

    David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending; until Dec 2006, after which it's MEd)

    Kotka, Finland

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  7. You think so? I think that guy sounded different to John, but I wouldn't put it past him. Sue did show up later, and I'm pretty sure that's her.

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  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. Sorry, had to delete that. Too much cusing.

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  10. Hiya Joseph...

    Yeh, I'm sure...

    Discourse analysis goes a long way in courts these days... Common-Sense-Needed has a profile and a blog with no entries.... it's JBJr. And kevin_1000 or whatever the number is.... JBJr... even Kevin Champagne can marshall a better argument that kevin_whatever-the-number is....


    It's a sign that JBJr has finally gone psychotic... you see, he really believes that it IS other people, but the discourse show that it's clearly him....


    Shhhhh! DOn't say you were told ;)

    David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending) and very soon to be MEd....
    Kotka, Finland

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  11. QUOTE:
    Fore Sam said...
    Herald;
    If your kid was bit by a rattlesnake, would you hold him and tell him he wasn't poisoned? Wake the fuck up and get the mercury out of his brain!
    ENDQUOTE.

    I rest my case......

    David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending) and MEd in December 2006
    Kotka, Finland

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  12. Well, I don't think John can pull off something believable like that. You'll note Kevin_1000 is not nearly as clueless as John and does not sound like a broken record. But it is possible Kevin_1000 is someone else's sockpuppet.

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  13. has anyone ever proven John exists?

    is there an avalible regisrater of Rescue angels that we can find his name in?

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  14. John is quite real I'm afraid, believe it or not. I understand he speaks at rallies and stuff.

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  15. Heh, Joseph...

    See this?

    QUOTE-
    My background in analytical chemistry plus common sense tells me that DMSA to remove mercury from the blood stream and ALA to remove it from sites in the brain, makes the decision not to treat our son tantamout to abuse.
    ENDQUOTE

    Analytical chemistry? Anal, more like... that is JBJr trying to look sane... failing miserably.

    What d'you reckon he's been taking in those suppositories? ;)

    David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending; to be subsumed into MEd award in Dec 2006)
    Kotka, Finland

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  16. Joseph...

    He probably had help from someone with a little nouse, but essentially, it's another facet of of JBJr's constant narcissism.

    Time for bed.... lovely reading tonight: yeh, one of my library of research methods texts... literature review... :/

    David N. Andrews MEd-ish (all bar thesis)
    Kotka, Finland

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  17. "Parents of autistic children will be mortified, as I was, when they read this article. It is also insulting autistics that loved their mum. You cold hearted shit."

    Yes.

    JBJr wrote that, as in fore_sam. It's JBJr all over it... but the name is kevin_1000. However... in addition to k_1000, and camille_1000, and c_s_n, he has yet another couple of aliases.... joseph_1000 and anonymous_1000!

    The dozy twunt is actually talking to himself and patting himself on the back! He has six different identities, allegedly distinct ones, and they all use English in exactly the same way!

    Talk about mercury poisoned....!!!!

    He's gone over the edge.

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  18. The way he's talking to himself now (in the long thread) is really kind of creepy, isn't it?

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  19. "The way he's talking to himself now (in the long thread) is really kind of creepy, isn't it?"

    Absolutely.

    I think that jonsmum may actually be him too. Something not quite adding up in that man's head, I think.

    And he says our brains don't work properly.

    But yes, it is creepy, and it's also a very disturbed thing to do... he knows we're onto him and he still carries on....

    There's something going wrong in that man's head.

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  20. He went to the dentist and they put mercury in him...

    "Yes, yes John more tinfoil, there you go"

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  21. I think that jonsmum may actually be him too.

    Yeah, that one is pretty easy. The comment about SIB seems thought out, but maybe he copied that off of a webpage. You'll note that jonsmum greets John as follows once:

    Fore sam,

    Kevin_1000 does the same thing in several comments. Later on, however, John gets careless and writes jonsmum greeting as follows:

    John;

    Which is John's standard way of greeting.

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  22. Joseph...

    "Then should we expect your friend Kevin_1000 to be a frequent poster of other blogs or just this one?"

    See what he does when people do to him what he does to them?

    I fucks off home and takes his ball with him.

    I'd say that, socio-emotionally, JBJr is about 6 years old.

    Which is why he hates his son.

    And us.

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  23. Fore Sam said...
    Joe;
    You'll have to ask him.

    4:40 PM


    Joseph said...
    I just did :)

    4:43 PM

    -----
    And just how much of a twunt does that tell us that JBJr actually is????

    Sacré cul!

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  24. "Fore Sam said...
    Read the post, Joe. Read her post and comments. See if you can think straight enough to come to the right conclusion."

    Looks like you fucked JBJr right off there :)

    Keep up the good work, Joseph....


    You're not Frank, right?

    ;)

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  25. You're not Frank, right?

    In the interest of keeping JBJr. confused, I will neither confirm nor deny that I am Frank ;-)

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  26. "Frank Klein is a persnickety, perseverative droid who will never accept the fact that he's not the most intelligent person on the planet and that he would be a lot happier with himself if he didn't have to deal with being autistic. You and he are twins, Joe. Frank likes to use aliases and play childish games just like you. Who else would notice whether I used a comma or a semi colon? You know me pretty well Frank/Joe, and likewise.
    But, you're playing poker against the wrong guy."

    Holy shitting jesus, Joseph!

    LoL

    You've sent an inadequate imbecile totally paranoid! Well done!

    :)

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  27. Okay... here we go...

    ----------------------------------
    Fore Sam said...
    Kevin 1000;
    Send an email to this address. ascaris1@att.net
    I won't say whose address it is because it would be unethical. This guy will trace it and they'll know it isn't me.

    5:43 PM


    Kevin_1000 said...
    John,

    OK.

    e-mail content will be blank and subject will be kevin_1000.

    6:48 PM


    Kevin_1000 said...
    John,

    Done.

    Sent: Aug 26th 2006 2:58am.

    Subject: kevin_1000.

    e-mail content: blank.

    7:07 PM


    Fore Sam said...
    Kevin;
    Thanks, not sure it will help shut them up but it's worth a try. They'll try any nonsense they can dream up to distract a topic for which they have no sane argument.

    ------------------------------

    Joseph, did you get an e-mail?

    Doubt it.

    You're not Frank. But JBJr thinks you are. He's losing it, man, and you're helping him to.

    I like that :)

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  28. JBJr: "I think you should shove your Autism speaks petition up David(ba pending)Andrews arse. He seems to have a fixsation with the arse anyway!"

    Last I knew, the guy had BA-status and was awaiting the award of his MEd degree (apparently he's completing his thesis).

    I've looked at those little game-player IDs there - all the so-and-so_1000 stuff... that's one person talking on every one of them!

    And last I heard of JBJr, the fixations were all on the part of John Best Jr, and were all about David's genitals.

    Can anyone tell me what JBJr really is all about? He seems a twisted and very bitter man.

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  29. "Truth be told, I don't think that it was Sue M. who pointed that out :) I'm pretty sure that Sue M only thought of Bartholomew Cubbins as a guy with a sick fascination with Dr. Seus and the guy who makes really strange and not at all funny or interesting mini videos."

    That was common_sense_needed, who we are supposed to believe is SueM...

    That's fucked up!!!!

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  30. Isn't it hylarious how he's trying to prove to himself that his sockpuppet is a real person?

    I don't think he intended to be logged in as jonsmum when he posted this:


    Jonsmum said...
    Kevin Leitch - User Gravatar:

    On your own site, Jim summed you and your supporters up perfectly.

    "You poor sickening "smackdown" loving cynics. You froth at the mouth at the legal kicking this man got and you don't see your awful selves in the light of history. When they "do find" the source(s) of autism as a combination of genetic predisposition and environment, and it just so happens to be ethyl mercury, you will find yourselves feeling a little ashamed. Don't worry though, you'll get over it! Oh but those poor injected blank staring autistics won't know how you put your own petty superiority complexes at the forefront of their health.
    Stick your thimerosal where the sun doesn't shine!"

    You didn't have much to say to Jim, did you?

    Your'e a coward hiding behind a vitriolic cult, who "froth at the mouth" for the want of the humiliation of others, indulging yourselves with self satisfying one-upmanship and stroking each others egos.

    Jim stepped on you like the piece of shit that you are.

    Get yourself over to Kassiane's site where you belong. I think she needs some serious ego stroking.

    6:57 AM

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  31. "Could use common sense" is certainly Sue M, but likes to pretend to be someone else.

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  32. LoL

    Someone's gone over to JBJr's shite-site as fore_sam_1000:

    QUOTE
    fore sam 1000 said...
    Mr. Best? Are you ready to come out of the closet now? You just tried to join a Yahoo! group using your bettwice33 email address. You wrote:

    "I'm not sure if I'm on the spectrum but some people think I am. I'm so confused I don't know what to do. Can you help?"

    Get help, Mr. Best. You need to learn to accept your autistic traits and not hate them.
    ENDQUOTE

    Any ideas? I'm sure that must piss him off... actually, his reply to it suggests that it does!

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  33. Nathzn, you can find John Best listed as a Rescue Angel on the Generation Rescue website here.

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