Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Media's Interest in the Neurodiversity Movement

Over at the Natural Variation blog, Joseph has a post up where he is trying to say that the "anti-vax" movement is losing steam. Ignoring for a moment the pejorative label "anti-vax", the idea behind the post is that media is losing interest in stories about a possible connection between vaccines and autism and the number of submissions to VAERS claiming autism is falling.

I think both measures are of questionable value, to say the least. Google news archive only includes selected sources while ignoring others, such as blogs or sites behind paywalls, so it can hardly be though of as an accurate measure of interest. As for VAERS, it wasn't meant to do this sort of tracking nor is it an accurate measure of all children who had a reaction to a vaccine - especially for controversial relationships like autism.

Or in other words, Joseph's charts don't show anything meaningful.

But, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. I decided to do my own version of Joseph's analysis, this time on the media's interest in the neurodiversity movement. So without further ado, here are two pretty charts for you to look at.

In the following charts, the "Neurodiversity" label refers to the number of stories returned by Google News Archive per year for the search term "neurodiversity and autism". The "Vaccine" labels refers to stores per year for the term "autism and vaccine". Finally, the "autism" label refers to stories per year for the term "autism".  Obviously, the data for 2010 is incomplete as it is only April.

The first chart is absolute number of stories per year in each of the three categories. See if you can find the "neurodiversity" point (hint, it hit its high point in 2008 with 35 stories).

This second chart is the number of stories for neurodiversity and vacancies, represented as the number of stories per 100 (or basically percent of stories per topic). To make it easier to find the neurodiversity line I made it extra bold in this chart.

I think the conclusion is clear.  While it is possible that the "anti-vax" movement is losing steam, the neurodiversity movement isn't even on the radar.


  1. The neurodiversity movement should be happy that they get such low media exposure. If people with an interest in autism knew what they were really like, with the hatred, dishonesty and propaganda that is spewed out over the internet by them all the time was well known, the u.s. senate would unanimously black bell Ne'eman's appointment to the NDC and autism speaks would receive so much pressure from their donors and potential donors that they would be forced to stop funding Laurent Mottron, Michelle Dawson and their colleagues and Morton Gernsbacher would no longer get funding from the government or be allowed to review scientific articles for peer review.

    I only hope they get more media coverage in the future as I am sure it will hurt them far more than it will help their cause.

  2. I was actually surprised at how little coverage there was. The ND movement likes to talk a good game, but they really are ignored for the most part by the mainstream media.

  3. Neurodiversity is dying? Crap! People, we've got to do what we can to keep it alive. Let people know what neurodiversity is, which is a term for people who have disabilities ARE special and different, are not sick with a disease psychologically and mentally. AND they don't need a cure. That sums up neurodiversity. We need to form our family and friends and peacefully strike places like "Autism Speaks" who spread misinformation and lies about autism. Support "Autism Society Of America", which embraces people with autism. My mom worked at "Autism Society of Michigan" before.

    1. The organized Neurodiversity movement did, in fact, collapse back in 2010 or so and that is a good thing. Neurodiversity is a lot like socialism - it sounds good on paper but in reality isn't and people do some pretty terrible things in its name.

      One of the biggest people problem with people who think that Neurodiversity is a good idea is that the actively discriminate against people who are disabled by their condition and do require substantial help to be able to function at all in the world.

      Another way of saying that is that neurodiversity ignores, minimizes the needs of, and discriminates against the majority of people with autism.

      As for Autism Speaks spreading "misinformation and lies about autism", you are very badly mistaken. Autism Speaks does have its problems but it does accurately represent what autism is like for the majority of people with autism.

      I would strongly recommend against trying to do anything like striking their walks because that shows an incredible disregard for the families who are participating. You would basically be saying "fuck you" to families, like mine, that live and breathe autism 24/7 and do everything in their power to help their children.

      I don't know where you are coming from but you might want to spend some time working with children who are actually disabled by their autism - they shouldn't be hard to find as they make up about 80% of the autism population.