A Touch of Alyricism

Dedicated to the equally fascinating topics of autistic advocacy and the 'sisterly sophistries' of radical gender feminism. Other topics may occasionally crop up. Contactable at alyric@gmail.com


Polemicist since Grade 8

Friday, August 01, 2008

Queer Goings on at Queens. Supporting the FAAAS agenda?

25 July 2008

Dr D Walker
Faculty of Health Sciences
Queen's University,
18 Barrie Street,
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6

Dear Dr Walker

Researchers pulling back the veil on adult autism is the remarkably misleading title of an article published in the Vancouver Sun on July 20 and prominently featuring Dr Deborah Elliot of Queens University. I attach a copy of the article's text for your reference.

This article purports to be all about research outcomes in adult autism. In reality it is a series of unsupported ugly statements promoting the worst stereotypes of autism to be found anywhere. Some were contributed by Dr Elliot herself, among which:

“They may be able to get an advanced degree, but once employed they can't interact with their co-workers in a normal way. There's no normal coffee chit-chat, Elliott explains. They sometimes ask embarrassing questions and easily lose their tempers.”

The sheer superficiality of this statement leaves me breathless. However, my real concern is that future employers and others who may relate to my offspring will have read this unbalanced piece and her life will be that much harder. For the record, lots of people make embarrassing statements and lose their temper. They have no label. Further, there is a good case to be made about the abnormalities of 'normal coffee chit chat' given the frequency of backbiting, character assassination and any number of pathological outcomes

“But they often don't come to the attention of mental health experts until they're reprimanded at work for making an inappropriate comment, or charged with harassing or stalking.”.

Dr Elliot is claiming a serious confound for adult autism, namely harassing and stalking behaviours, which has no research support anywhere. Again, my chief concern is for the future of my offspring who will have to deal with these manufactured prejudices. It appears that the author of this piece has used Dr Elliot and by extension Queens University to give credence to the most sensationalist and thoroughly unsupported statements. It does not appear that Dr Elliot read the finished article. Otherwise, how could an academic with any reputation condone the following glib offering?

“Or the office clerk who beat up a woman on his way to the bus stop one morning for the simple reason she was in his way. He was obsessed with not walking on the cracks between the tiles on the sidewalk. “

This suggests rather strongly that adult autistics are likely to beat up any mere stranger for no apparent reason. Simply to leave such a statement in an article is to peddle prejudice. How does anyone know the reliability of this account? The journalist is no guide. She has taken as her source, Karen Rodman of FAAAS (original title: Families of Adults Afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome). FAAAS is simply a hate site, replete with innuendo, anecdote from dubious sources, liberally mixed with the glue of garden variety spite. Dr Elliot could have taken some care not to be seen in the same article or at least, not to endorse some of their more extreme positions. This article likes to portray violence as a feature of the autistic profile and it is a common enough gambit among budding but unscrupulous researchers and journalists. I refer you to some real research on the subject - Murrie, Warren, Kristiansson, & Dietz, 2002 and Barry-Walsh & Mullen, 2004. There is no connection whatsoever between violence and autism above what is to be found in the general population.
Imagine my surprise to see the following profile of Dr Elliot as a research participant for The South Eastern Ontario Community – University Research Alliance in Intellectual Disabilities.
“Her interests include advocacy for vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities, the homeless and people with severe and persistent mental illnesses “
The hypocrisy is self evident.
I and my autistic offspring, indeed the entire autistic community would take it as a great favour if Queen's University and the research consortium would withdraw its support for this article's gross mischaracterisation of a very complex condition and notify the paper of such. The editor's details are as follows:
Patricia Graham
Editor in Chief, Vancouver Sun
Address: #1 - 200 Granville Street, Vancouver BC V6C 3N3, Canada
Phone: 604-605-2318
Fax: 604-605-2668

This article and Dr Elliot's participation in it are in direct violation of Queen's University's own policy statement on harassment and discrimination, a fine irony given Dr Elliot's assertion that harassment is such a feature of autism.
Yours sincerely


Blogger abfh said...

A fine irony indeed.

Thanks Alyric.

12:00 PM  

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