Autistic Presidential Appointee compares autism with homosexuality

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by barkomatic, Oct 6, 2010.

  1. barkomatic macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Manhattan
    #1
    Ari Ne'eman is the first autistic appointee to the National Council on Disability. He is high functioning and from the linked interview with Wired he seems indistinguishable from someone without autism.

    In a nutshell, his appointment is controversial for a few reasons. The first is the belief that autistic people are incapable of effectively serving on this Council because of their condition. The second is that he believes that too much focus has been on research into the area of autism to find a cure and figure out what causes it. Rather, he believes that more effort should be made to providing services and acceptance of autistic people in society. He seems to be suggesting that autism and related conditions are just another genetic variance and that acceptance of autism and the behaviors and preferences of autistic people should be somewhat of a social justice issue. In other words, accepting autistic people for who they are and not worrying so much about a cure. In fact, the comparison is made in the article between trying to find a cure for autism and finding a cure for homosexuality. There are also meetings of autistic people called "autreats" where those afflicted enjoy the company of others with a similar condition but don't face the social pressures that they do when socializing with normal people who expect things like small talk and eye contact.

    People who have normal neural development are called "neurotypicals" which is a term coined by the "neurodiversity" movement. This is new to me. I've seen plenty of autism walks/races that are labeled "Walk for the Cure" or "Race for the Cure" etc so I have always thought of autism as a disease that needs a cure.

    After consideration, I don't think autism should be completely accepted as a mere genetic variance--although it does seem obvious that there should be services and programs to help autistic people already born integrate into larger society, be less lonely, and lead successful lives. Also, the comparison between autism and homosexuality is a bad one in my opinion and does not serve either group well.

    What do you think? Here is the link.

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/10/exclusive-ari-neeman-qa/
     
  2. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    FL
    #2
    While both are present from birth, autism is a condition that impairs function. Homosexuals are not impaired in functioning, but rather but societal intolerance. Autism should be identified, treated, and...hopefully with time and with the root cause(s) identified, eliminated. Homosexuality...um, no.

    An unfortunate analogy. To make the point, parallels with the deaf would be more accurate. While I agree more should be done to treat those afflicted with autism and improve societal acceptance, I'm not sure an autistic "culture", as the one that has arisen among the deaf, should be promoted.
     
  3. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #3

    I don't know much about autism, but I really like the effort you've put into starting a decent PRSI thread. Good summary, not something plucked from a partisan outfit littered with dog whistles, not bashing anyone, your own counter-views, a link at the end. :)

    Having worked with fundraising teams on campaigns, the 'Walk/Race for the Cure' language is marketing-speak to provide clear motivational goals. Not much room for ambiguity or equivocating.
     
  4. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #4
    If we look back to the relatively recent past, homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. Society has since—at least more so than in the past—come to understand homosexuality more as a state of being than a disorder. In this way I don't think the analogy is entirely faulty—perhaps in 50 years we will come to see those with high-functioning autism/asperger's as being more of a variation and less of a victim.
     
  5. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    It's a strange one, I certainly wouldn't be in favour of a blanket cure of autism, high-functioning autistic people generally wouldn't change the way they are for the world, on the other hand the suffering of low functioning autistic people is very real.


    Tbh I see the issue as moot anyhow given how likely the condition is down to how one's mind is wired rather than a simple chemical imbalance that can be "treated", if any "treatment" is offered I can only imagine it's partial and transient, not the type of permanent transformation into neurotypical mediocrity that this guy fears.
     
  6. remmy macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2007
    #6
    From my very limited experience as a volunteer with young who people have communication disabilities suffer more because of how the general public treats them. For example train stations staff being aggressive to someone who does not instantly understand the ticket system.

    What has given the greatest results appears to of been educating the young people on how to deal with this world, mostly giving them confidence and experience so they can live how they choose.
     
  7. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816

    digitalnicotine

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #7
    I'm high functioning autistic, often referred to as Aspergers Syndrome. I don't really understand his comparison between Autists and homosexuals. I do agree that there is a need for advocacy for both groups.

    The diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome didn't exist when I was a child, and I was diagnosed as several things, from deaf to mentally retarded. I think most of the research that exists today is aimed at child-aged autists, and even that is, in my opinion, lacking in depth and study.

    The average neurotypical adult has very little knowledge of autism, because they often haven't knowingly encountered autistic people in their everyday lives. There are also a lot of generalizations and misconceptions. For example, many think an adult autist is much like what was portrayed in the movie Rainman. In reality, he was an autistic savant.

    I am glad my parents didn't treat me as a mentally disabled person as I was growing up. I have never considered myself as such, although the degree of severity in autism varies vastly between individuals.

    I do struggle with social interaction, but don't really understand the concept of loneliness. I can recite the definition, but that's the extent of my grasp. :eek:

    I am on my second career, the first being an enlisted soldier in the US Army. I found that to be a very helpful means of transforming from teenager to adult, and met several other aspie's while serving. I now work as an illustrator for a local design firm, of which I am part owner. I love it. :D

    Just thought I'd share another perspective. :)
     
  8. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    I imagine the comparison was only made to illustrate that he thinks the condition can not be cured and that it's just how people are, aka if you were to cure someone with aspergers syndrome it would be akin to destroying who they are.

    Another thing that rattles me somewhat is the concept of people kicking up a fuss about someone with ASD holding such a position, if he's capable of performing in the role what the hell does his condition have to do with anything, especially if as the article says he comes across like a regular guy. Plenty of autistic people hold important jobs, some I know work on things like writing safety critical software that runs nuclear power plants.

    It's also worth bearing in mind that plenty such people don't necessarily like to reveal their condition and consider it a relatively minor facet of who they are, this guy just happens to be open about it.
     
  9. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816

    digitalnicotine

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #9
    Thanks, Mord! I understand now. I also agree with all the points you've made. :)
     
  10. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    CA
    #10
    I certainly understand the idea that an atmosphere of acceptance will help autistic individuals gain more acceptance as people rather than efforts to cure their afflictions. However, I do think that there is a fine line between accepting genetic variants into our society and disregarding our genetic health for the sake of acceptance. I do not mean that we should regard people that are not "normal" as inferior or less deserving of respect than any other individual. What I mean by this is that if you look at autistic births, they are more likely to parents of scientists/engineers than the rest of society. This would seem to indicate that our relatively recent emphasis on individuals with higher thinking capacity may also be causing us as a people to have a weaker sense of attachment to their peers and larger groups of people. I am not necessarily saying that this lack of emotional interdependence is a bad thing. I'm merely stating that we should be cognizant of the path we travel both genetically and culturally, as they definitely influence one another.
     
  11. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Always a day away
    #11
    Do we know that autism is genetic?

    Not disputing that you're born with it, mind you - I mean, is there a gene for it, is it passed on to children, is it dominant or recessive, that whole thing.
     
  12. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    FL
    #12
    Twin and family studies indicate a genetic predisposition. It does not follow simple Mendelian genetics, indicating that multiple genes, interacting with environmental factors, are likely involved.
     
  13. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Location:
    On tenterhooks
    #13
    I blame heavy metals. They are to blame for many things, IMO.
     
  14. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    CA
    #14
    Iron Maiden never did anything but good for anyone.
     
  15. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Always a day away
    #15
    Right. It was Judas Priest that caused those kids to commit suicide all those years ago. :rolleyes:

    [/sarcasm]
     
  16. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    CA
    #16
    Well, they do have that singer promoting the gay lifestyle!

    [/sarcasm]
     
  17. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #17
    We know less than we really should, much like other childhood-onset problems inc type 1 diabetes.
     
  18. CaoCao macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    #18
    Autism is not a mental illness, their brain is simply wired differently.
     
  19. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Always a day away
    #19
    Ooooh, well played!!
     
  20. Queso macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #20
    It isn't the heavy metals themselves, but the love of heavy metals. 'Tis the root of all evils.

    As for Autism vs. Gay stuff, yeah I understand that. Stop looking for a cure and just accept people as people you FASCISTS!!!
     
  21. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #21
    Well it is more we know that there are genetic factors that increase the likely hood that someone is going to be Autistic. Just like the same with people who are gay. It is a mixture of environment and genetics.

    Also their are a huge number of over laps with high functioning Autistic and other things like Dyslexia. They have a lot of similar symptoms but do need different treatments.

    Add in you have other common things that go hand in hand with dyslexia and Aspergers like ADHD, depression, and anxiety it makes it even harder.

    So many over laps and things that go hand and hand makes treatment harder and makes it important to get it right because the treatment is very different between the two. The treatments for each are teaching the person how to adapt to respective disabilities.
     
  22. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #22
    All things I've been told I have and I know plenty who are similar.

    It's interesting what other seemingly unrelated conditions are typically co-morbid, for example severe migraine and/or cluster headaches, I know three others that suffer from these and they're all ASD, I could name a few other things too, there's definitely some correlation to a whole bunch of other mental variance.
     
  23. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #23
    Very true. And what is worse is if the wrong one is treated it just makes it worse.
    Classic example is anxiety and depression. They are 2 sides of the same coin. One will feed the other and then cover up the real cause. A treatment for depression will be done because it appears worse but it really was anxiety causing it. Well the problem is not solved at all. Anxiety is still there and many of the antidepressants out there will often increase anxiety not reduce it. Same goes for the other way.
     
  24. Jr1985 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    #24
    Einstein was supposed to have autistic-like behaviours. Also Alan Turning, who invented the first computer and helped solved the enigma code during WWII, was autistic and gay.

    So without autism our chances of winning WWII and inventing PC's would have been impaired.

    'Who do you think made the first stone spear?" . "That wasn't the yakkity yaks sitting around the campfire. It was some Asperger sitting in the back of a cave figuring out how to chip rocks into spearheads. Without some autistic traits you wouldn't even have a recording device to record this conversation on." - Temple Grandin, autistic and PhD.

    Another thing is that autistic people tend to have good attention to detail, ability to focus on thier interests for long periods of time (which can be forged into a career in science, for example), are honest, loyal, don't usually back-stab and are generally more accepting of other people's differences. Also, people with ASD's are more likely to see the world as it is, rather than making up fairytales to explain why things are "It was meant to be" "God made it happen", etc. http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=people-with-aspergers-less-likely-t-2010-05-29

    There's an IT company in Denmark, called Specialistern, which only employes people with Asperger's. I myself have AS and I think it would be wonderful to work there as you would generally be accepted and there's no office politics. "According to Sonne, one client found that the Specialistern contractors were five to 10 times more accurate than other contractors." - http://www.wellspringautismnetwork.com/blog/2009/11

    I'm convinced that most of the problems experienced by people with AS would be solved if people were more accepting. In fact, when i met a group of people with AS I didn't feel like I had any communication/social difficulties, because we were all on the same wave-length. So I'm all for making the lives of autistic people easier, but to eliminate it would be detrimental to humanity. You can keep you cure thanks, I'd rather care about things that matter than about who the latest pop star is or what fashion my peers are into, etc.
     
  25. niuniu macrumors 68020

    niuniu

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Location:
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
    #25
    Love what he's saying. Love his attitude to accepting and being himself, really amazing.
     

Share This Page