That post had over 200 comments. I wasn't aware before then that Blogger starts to page comments at 200. The number of comments is surely the result of a fight that ensued with one troll in particular, but it was impressive nonetheless, considering this is not an active blog. (I've seen posts with more comments outside of Blogger, e.g. this one about Wakefield over at LB/RB, with 395 comments; Kev had to close the thread.)
Recently I went over to Jon Mitchell's blog to see what he's up to. In his post titled "Does neurodiversity help autistics with self-esteem?" we see that he's using exactly the "high functioning" argument I had discussed.
I pointed out to Jon Mitchell that he hasn't demonstrated the existence of the group differences between autistics who approve of and disapprove of neurodiversity which he believes exist. The group sizes make this difficult if not impossible.
What he did do is bring attention to a published report titled "Neurodiversity in higher education: Insights from qualitative research by the BRAINHE project." There are many findings of interest in this report, to be sure, but there's one paragraph in particular that I wanted my readers to be aware of. I would like parents of autistic children, specially, to read this paragraph and understand its implications.
13 of the participants viewed their neurodiversity as an entirely negative matter. These participants frequently used negative or medical terminology when talking about their labels which indicated that they felt in some way broken or damaged. Of the 13 students who had this view, 8 indicated low academic self-esteem and expressed confusion and uncertainty about their future plans. Participants who viewed their neurodiversity as a difference which included strengths were more likely to have higher academic self-esteem, to have experienced unpleasant epithets from teachers and to have a clear ambitious view of their future.
Jon Mitchell, as you might expect, argues that it's not the participants' worldview which causes them to have self-esteem, but something outside of that; more specifically he argues that those with low self-esteem are lower functioning than those with high self-esteem, and that functioning level is also what causes them to either accept or reject the ideals of neurodiversity.
To be sure, the report is not terribly scientific, and there's no discussion of control for confounding. Yes, the report is lacking in that regard. We can't completely reject Jon Mitchell's speculation about a possible confound.
Let me ask the following, however. Which is more plausible? Is worldview more likely to affect self-esteem, or is functioning level more likely to affect self-esteem? Do bright people always have high self-esteem, whereas not so bright people always have low self-esteem?
There is a lot of research on cultural influence in self-esteem, which I'm not really familiar with, but you can search for it. Leaving that aside, does it seem plausible that someone with the views of Jon Mitchell could ever have high self-esteem regardless of their personal situation, and still be autistic?
So yes, I think there are probably group differences between those autistics who favor and those who oppose neurodiversity. I haven't seen convincing evidence that functioning level is one of those differences. Self-esteem most likely is a difference. To some extent it's possible that self-esteem affects functioning level and achievement too.