Sunday, April 4, 2010

I'm Against Ari Ne'eman Serving on the National Council on Disability

As I said a week ago, I am against Ari Ne'eman being serving on the National Council on Disability.  Mr. Ne'eman's views on autism preclude him from being able to properly represent the overwhelming majority of people who suffer from autism.

The problems with Ari Ne'eman, as I see them, are as follows

1. Mr. Ne'eman is against curing autism.

2. Mr. Ne'eman is against researching the genetics of autism.  Yet without an understanding of the genetic basis of autism, it will be almost impossible to find effective treatments or a cure.

3. Mr. Ne'eman is against mainstream autism treatments like ABA yet sanctions thoroughly debunked quackery like Facilitated Communication.

4. Mr. Ne'eman ignores the needs of the silent majority of people who suffer from autism.  He ignores those who are most disabled by autism and instead focuses almost exclusively on those who are barely impaired by their condition

If you feel the same way, I would ask you sign the online petition opposing his appointment here.

Alternatively, if you are uncomfortable with the petition or if your representative in the US Senate happens to be on the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) committee, you can contact your representative directly and let them know you are opposed to Mr. Ne'eman serving.

You can track the status of the nomination from this page, just type "PN1303-111" into the search box and click the search button.  From what I gather from the status page, Mr. Ne'eman was asked on March 10th to testify in front of the senate committee but I haven't found any record of him doing so.

Lets stop this appointment from happening.


  1. "Floor Action: March 10, 2010 - Placed on Senate Executive Calendar. Calendar No. 747. Subject to nominee's commitment to respond to requests to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of the Senate. "

    MJ, I am no expert on US Senate committee procedures but as I read the above statement from the page you linked it appears that on March 10 President Obama's anti-autism cure disability nominee was only required by the March 10 action to COMMIT to testifying before a duly constituted committee IF required.
    Unfortunately for children and adults with Autistic Disorders Mr. Ne'eman's nomination looks to me like it will go ahead.

    But I admit my total lack of expertise as a Canadian observer.
    I don't know if my interpretation of the US Senate procedures as stated is correct?

  2. amen, MJ! I signed the petition and added a link on my blog. I wish i had been as clever as you in finding the page for the u.s. senate. I have not checked it out yet, but i am going to. Do you know when the senate recesses next? If it is soon, I guess Obama could make Ne'eman a recess appointment? If not, maybe we can at least hold up this appointment indefinitely.

    In your reasons you forgot to mention the most obvious, that Ne'eman seeks to serve on a disabilities council though he has stated in the past he does not believe autism and asperger's are disabilities as I have meticulously documented on my blog, autism's gadfly.

  3. Harold, you may be (and probably are) right and I am not that familiar with how the US Senate works. But, I am guessing that Mr. Ne'eman has to appear at his nomination hearing and if you look at the other nomination hearings that the committee has held - - it seems that the nominated person sometimes appears before the committee.

    I am hopeful that he will be asked to testify and his views on autism will be on the record. If the nomination can't be blocked, that would probably be the next best outcome.

    Jonathan, I think the Senate will is not currently in session but will come back on April 12th and stay until the end of May. But those dates are subject to change.

    I don't know if President Obama would do a recess appointment for an appointment as relatively trivial as this, but it is certainly possible. My guess would be that he wouldn't do that - although the ND group certainly likes to hope that he would.

  4. You do realize that the US National Council on Disability has nothing to do with curing disability, right? That sort of position seems perfect for someone like Ari, who is more interested in social services and such.

    "The purpose of NCD is to promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, and that empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society."

    Tell me. What good would it do to have a person focused on curing disability there?

  5. Joseph,

    It would help if the person serving felt that autism was in fact a disability. Mr. Ne'eman is on the record (many times) as saying that he think that autism is social disability, if one at all.

    Members on the council are "are appointed to represent people with disabilities, national organizations concerned with people with disabilities, providers and administrators of services to people with disabilities, people engaged in conducting medical or scientific research relating to people with disabilities, business concerns, and labor organizations"

    Mr. Ne'eman fails this test. He does not represent the majority of people who suffer from autism, just the needs of the extremely high functioning. If everyone with autism was like Mr Ne'eman we wouldn't be having this discussion.

    More importantly, he is against proven treatments like ABA and other ways of treating autism. This position is directly harmful to the majority of children with autism who need access to these sorts of services if they hope to be able to function in society.

  6. It would help if the person serving felt that autism was in fact a disability. Mr. Ne'eman is on the record (many times) as saying that he think that autism is social disability, if one at all.

    NCD's goals are entirely consistent with the social model of disability. I don't think you've even read the NCD website's main page. Tell me it doesn't read just like a neurodiversity website.

  7. No, I don't think it looks like an ND site.

    After all, there isn't anything about Facilitated Communication on there. Nor do I see any language telling parents that they are out of line for helping their children. And I certainly don't see anything that says that autism isn't the fastest growing developmental disorder.