Monday, April 20, 2009

Public Disservice Annoucement

I take a break from paying attention to the autism world to catch up on some needed sleep and to spend more time with the children and wouldn't you know it, I miss something like this video -

"No Myths" Public Service Announcement

Of course this was covered by the usual cheerleaders such as Steve D at "One Dad's Opinion" who thinks this is a good example of positive awareness. Then there is the usual neutral appearing yet highly slanted coverage at And of course the "Powerful Autism public service announcement" post at Left Brain Right Brian.

The list goes on and on but I think you get the idea. It might be simpler for the ND folk to put out a press release and be done with it.

There has not been much coverage of this by the "other" side. Harold Doherty had a quick mention of if but he is really just pointing out a post by Jonathan Mitchell at Autism's Gadfly debunking the video.

I can't speak to the specifics of the people involved the way that Jonathan did but I but I think that parents with children on the spectrum should watch the video and ask themselves a simple question.

Do the people in this video act or carry themselves like your children?

For me the answer is no. My daughters look like and act much more like Hannah Poling did in some of her public appearances.

I know it would the happiest day of my life if my daughters will be able to express themselves as well as the young boy when they are that age. At this point I would be happy if they could express themselves using more than one word at a time. They are making what is for them is rapid progress but they still have a very long way to go. And my children are on the less severe end of the spectrum.

So the question that comes to my mind is do these people fairly represent the needs and requirements of children on the spectrum?

When people like Ari Nee'man speak out against a cure for autism and say that I should not try to "cure" my children's autism. What gives him the right to make such a decision for my children?

When someone like Michelle Dawson attempts to convince parents not to treat their children with medically accepted and recommended treatments whose benefit is that for?

When Deena Gassner says in the video "Autism is an integral part of who I am and how I see the world. I've embraced it and it has made be stronger" who is she trying to kid? I would challenge her to point to the exact part of the DSM IV autism criteria that when "embraced" makes you stronger. Do you think it is the disrupted communication or social skills? Perhaps it is the stims or restricted or obsessive behaviors?

Oh wait, I know, it is the ability to have a complete and utter meltdown in public because you can't pick a flower - that makes your "stronger", by strengthening your vocal cords. (Twin B has a bad habit of doing this)

Give me a break. If you think autism makes you stronger then what you have isn't autism.

The title of the video is "No Myths" yet I think a better title would have been "Our Myths". These people would have you believe that autism is just a "difference" something that you can live with and work around, with the right supports. They may even be right, for a very small subset of people on spectrum who are able to work around the disorder and thrive in spite of it.

But for the rest of the adults with autism and for the vast majority of children on the spectrum what they are doing is a public disservice. They are attempting to create a false impression that autism is just a quirk and not the profound disorder that it is.

So let me offer my two cents worth of advice to the people in the video. You want a larger part in the "national discussion of autism" that is happening "without you" then you need to stop being part of the problem. Get down off of your ideological horse and start being part of the solution.

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