Docsplainin' -- it's what I do

Docsplainin'--it's what I do.
After all, I'm a doc, aren't I?



Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hoo, boy

John Best, over at Hating Autism, has started a bit of a blog war with his latest post, "Ask Newsweek to kill Ari Ne'eman." Called to task for the inflammatory title, he then commented:
I believe that everyone associated with Neurodiversity should be put to death for the propaganda they perpetrate against curing horribly disabled children. They are part of the lies told by vaccine makers and politicians who continue to cause autism intentionally.

I believe that autism is the greatest crime in the history of the planet and that anyone who has been involved with it in any way deserves to die, preferably slowly and with great pain. So, while I don't suggest that anyone should shoot Ari Ne'eman in the head, I do think he deserves a trial for his role in this atrocity. I hope the outcome of that trial would be death.
Hard to know where to start with this one. My heart goes out to Mr. Best (and Mrs. Best--I assume there is one) for the tragedy of their son's illness. I have no sympathy, however, for this kind of bitterness and hatred, never mind the irresponsible talk of killing people.

If Mr. Best wants to talk about atrocities, perhaps he should point his finger not at politicians and vaccine-makers, but at all those folks who won't vaccinate their children: The anti-vaccine movement in the long run has the potential to cause many more illnesses and deaths than autism ever did. Or at the health-care system that is going to make it impossible for his son to remain at home.

But I digress. It's a human trait to look for someone to blame. Accepting that stuff happens is hard. It's easier and more emotionally satisfying (in the short run) to be angry at God, the government, another person, or a minority group. But in the long run, all that rage isn't going to change our conditions one whit. And realistically speaking, it won't prevent another case of our disorder, either. Given that stuff happens, and we all have to deal with it when it happens to us, the best course is acceptance. That is the road to inner peace, in the long haul. It is what is is: Now what are we going to do with it?

If there is somebody to blame, then of course they should be held responsible. But Mr. Best is incorrect in his claim that vaccines cause autism, as has been scientifically demonstrated. He is also incorrect that Asperger's is not autism, or that persons (like Ne'eman) diagnosed at 12 can't possibly be autistic. Autism exists on a spectrum, with Asperger's at the high end. And people with high-end autism most certainly do go to college--and to grad school. High-end autism cases do go undiagnosed until people reach certain developmental stages and start hitting a wall. This is true of several disabilities which first manifest in childhood, such as Attention Deficit Disorder Without Hyperactivity.

Best is also wrong about the neurodiversity movement's goals. The movement isn't about not curing disorders. It's about not othering us.

7 comments:

Lindsay said...

Hey, thanks, Dr. Wood.

I'd like to add that it isn't like there's a cure and we're all standing between it and the people who want it.

There is no cure, and given the largely genetic nature of autism, any "cure" that is likely to come down the pike is likelier to be a form of prevention. Prenatal screening, genetic engineering, the like.

Those of us who are already here will still need supports.

Also, does the "we" in your post imply that you are an Aspie? Not that it really matters, since, whether you share any given patient's experiences or no, you seem open-minded and compassionate; I just think it would be really neat if some of us were practicing therapists.

(If you're interested, there's a fundraising drive for the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network inspired by this latest trollfest).

Virginia S. Wood, PsyD said...

The "we" in my blog refers to my own handicap(the word I prefer to use when I'm referring to my own situation). To say "you" or "they" was to imply that I am a TAB, and to that extent to disavow common cause with the neurodiversity folk. Perhaps I should have been more clear about my own status, but everything I considered inserting in order to clarify seemed like a self-indulgent tangent.

I was drawing on my own experience as well as clinical experience in dealing with a disability psychologically, and attempting to place myself in the context/company of disability rights issues/advocates in general. For I believe that,

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately" (Benjamin Franklin)

at the hands of folk like Mr. Best.

Foresam said...

I saved my comment so, if you don't publish it and reply, I'll just publish it on my blog and add you to the list of lying scoundrels who abuse disabled and poisoned children.

jonathan said...

Virginia: No one is trying to "other" autistic persons who are consenting adults and don't want to be cured. People just want a better life for themselves and their children.

While Best's statements may be very inflammatory, only out of anger of having a severely disabled son and then having people like you writing crap that trivializes it, he is completely accurate in his statements about what ND does.

Anonymous said...

I think everyone needs to calm the hell down about the Neurodiverse VS and Pro-cure movements.

I mean, why does there have to be such a verses mentality? How is that helping kids?

I'm neurodiverse and while I fear the outcome of science discovering ways to manipulate genes, I support the research and I cannot (because it is against my nature) deny someone their right to a cure.

It would be as absurd as me banning cosmetic surgery; just because I don't agree with it, it doesn't mean that I should have any power to deny anyone that right.

All I can do is live my life to the fullest and be an example of how people with mental disorders are worth something in this world. I will hold my head up high with pride, not out of arrogance but out of the fact that I worked hard to be who I am. Even in the darkest of times, I will not resort to a quick fix cure even if such a thing was availiabe because I have too much pride to bow down to a sociopathic world that bullies people into being a certain way. I have my pride and I will not allow myself to succumb to the pressures of society.

Nobody, not even you, John, can take that away from me. I worked too hard in my life to let morons tell me that my beliefs are a scam and that my life is a lie.

I support any scientific breakthrough that will improve people's lives (even if it does mean a cure), but I never ever want that to be an excuse to devalue someone's life.


I am against John, not because he supports a cure but because he thinks a cure exists and this so called cure can damage a child. Biomedical intervention is psuedoscience and is dangerous.

It's not neurodiversity's place to deny a cure, but it is our duty to preserve dignity in individuals with mental disorders and urge people to support people affected by them. It is our duty to prevent the families of these individuals from suffering as well as the individuals themselves. It is also our duty to spread neutral and balanced information (which means we should really cut out the whole "Autism Pride" thing for a while).

That;s what I think, anyway.

Great blog entry, btw :)

Foresam said...

Anon,
A cure does exist. Stating that it does not makes you an enemy of all autistic people who could benefit from the knowledge we already have. It is not the least bit dangerous.

People with mental disorders are worth a lot more to themselves and everyone else when they get rid of the disorder. Of course, curing you would prevent Dr Wood from being able to make money from you so we can see why she's opposed to it.

Virginia S. Wood, PsyD said...

Could somebody please tell me where, in my original post, I said was against a cure? I must have missed it.

The two anonymous folk who just submitted comments may wish to resubmit, removing the abusive language. Being respectful to other commenters makes it far more likely that you will make it through moderation.

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