Thanks to writer, autism Mom and my personal mentor Barbara Fischkin for alerting me to this great post about the insanity of Neurodiversity. Written by Jill Escher and posted on the Cortical Chauvinism blog, Escher sums up the extreme frustration that so many of us as feel as our children with true autism - the DSM-V diagnosable autism are being marginalized, wiped off the map and thus, so are their intense needs. On Saturday we posted an article about one family's 200+ hour wait in an ER following their autistic son's "psychotic break."
If you do one thing today, I implore you to read Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill's new book DENIAL - which shreds the myths that neurodiversity according to Simon Baron-Cohen and others are trying to spread. We are NOT against accommodations, acceptance, and general human kindness toward everyone with autism. But as with anything, ask yourself, "cui bono," WHO benefits if we convince the public that autism is just a difference that has always been here and as such requires no deep probing into cause or cure? CUI BONO. Hint, it ain't us. Thanks to Jill for this post.
by Jill Escher
I’m the mom of two kids with profound neurodevelopmental impairments, labeled by multiple esteemed practitioners as “autism.” At ages 18 and 11, they can’t read, write, or talk. They have never played with a toy or dressed themselves. They don’t know their birthdays, much less what “birthday” might mean. They are both gorgeous, healthy and utterly delightful, with smiles and personalities that light up the room, but because of their profound mental dysfunctions they will require one-to-one 24/7 assistance for the entirety of their lives, all at astronomical expense to us and society. In short, no reasonable person denies that they suffer walloping mental disorders of the most alarming magnitude.
So imagine my shock reading “Neurodiversity – a revolutionary concept for autism and psychiatry,” by Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology at University of Cambridge and the current president of the International Society for Autism Research. In it, he suggests that the field of psychiatry should perhaps view autism as a variant of normal along the lines of homosexuality or left-handedness, rather than as a mental disorder where brain and behavior involve some sort of impairment.
He argues autism may be neurodiversity rather than pathology because it is “associated with cognitive strengths” and is just a form of “diversity in the set of all possible brains.” In his view, the underlying cognition and neurobiology in autism cannot be said to be “dysfunctional,” just “different.” He contends “there is no single way for a brain to be normal, as there are many ways for the brain to be wired up and reach adulthood.”
Say what? How could anyone—much less a person seated atop one of the highest altars of authority and influence in the world of autism—so trivialize my children’s and others’ disabilities by likening them to traits like handedness which are irrelevant to basic mental functioning? Or shrug off the often drastic consequences of abnormal neurophysiology? Hey, my kids have certain strengths, too, like love for music, gentle empathy, and striking athleticism, but those hardly negate the fact my son might eat his shoe. Moreover, isn’t the very purpose of psychiatry to identify and address serious mental impairments that interfere with normal functioning rather than to offer feel-good kumbaya?