Autistic pride

Be respectful towards people you’re talking about

This is one of more personal posts.

I like to talk about accessibility with other people so I joined a Twitter chat called #axschat which promised to talk about accessibility in general. For almost a year I enjoyed talking to people and tried my best to engage the conversation.

Unfortunately last weekend something awful happened. The hosts invited people who have no credibility whatsoever among the people they talk about. Those guest are authors of a book In a different key, John Donvan and Caren Zucker. Neither of them are Autistic themselves and they draw their authority to talk about Autistic individuals from having Autistic relatives.

When I asked why they were invited, Neil Milliken told me that there is a need to present different points of view into a discussion. My follow up question was about Neurotribe’s author Steve Silberman if he is going to be next week’s host. The answer was negative. This discrepancy at first made sick that I considered to avoid that particular #axschat after asking the hosts to reconsider.

After seeing that the hosts decided to go through with video chat despite acting as pro-Neurodiversity and pro-Autistic before.  I decided to comment on that video as I watched it. As John Donvan began talking about the early history he forgot, or knowingly decided not to, to mention that if Leo Kanner chose the same or similar approach as Hans Asperger in Vienna, the authors wouldn’t be able to write their book.

The book according to their authors is written from parents’ point of view. (I haven’t read it and I’ll write about why later.) How parents have fought the system which told them to abandon and forget their children in mental institutions. This point of view is not what people, especially Autistic people, need to hear right now. If they chose a point of view in which doctors caused more harm than good I think the Autistic community would be very happy. At least I would be because that would be a quite accurate description how it was.

After I was done with commentary both authors decided to withdraw from a discussion which follows the interview. This surprised me at first but then I reread Shannon Des Roches Rosa’s review of the book and saw that the authors go great lengths to deal with criticism. I don’t consider their withdrawal a win.

I would consider it a win if they rescheduled them to some other time of the year. Preferably week before or after Steve Silberman.

Scheduling allistic authors who talk and write about Autistic people and are rejected by us right before April is insulting. It’s disrespectful because of the long history of organizations who promise to help but spend majority of the money they receive on eugenics research, etc. (If I may ask you for something it would be wearing red on April 2 and not lighting it up blue.)

The reason why I haven’t read In a different key is because I see parallels with Janice Raymond’s Transsexual Empire. The only difference is that being a radical feminist implies hatred towards transgender people. If other trans people tell me not to read a book which they find hateful, why should I treat a book about Autism any different?

I should probably note one more thing. There is a small number of trans people who agree with Transsexual Empire, autogynephilia theory and/or support Ted Cruz but those belong to very small minorities and apart from Caitlyn Jenner are not very vocal. While I was trying to find a positive review by Autistic people of In a different key I found exactly TWO whole sentences by Temple Grandin and a lot of bad reviews by Autistic individuals. If this is not yet another parallel then I am Joanne Snow.

At the moment I am not going to engage with #axschat because it takes away my time which I feel can be used to help other persons with disabilities. Also late last year I saw quite a few posts about Neil Milliken’s employer ATOS in quite controversial decisions revolving around persons with disabilities and being fit for work. It should’ve been my warning that at least one of the hosts ethics isn’t probably as good as he makes others believe.

Disclaimer: I am not officially diagnosed because my mother decided that I don’t need an official diagnosis or help. At the moment I am searching for a diagnostician who is able to diagnose adults without parents’ help. It’s harder than it looks despite being more 50% of time non-verbal in a phone-centric world.