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

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My Not Too Terribly Polite Response to UMC

Kathleen is unfailingly polite. I'm half Irish.

Dear Ms Taylor

I note your response to Ms Kathleen Seidel's letter "A Plaintiff in the Pulpit", which now appears on the Neurodiversity weblog, with a combination of incredulity mixed with misgivings over the future of a sizeable number of autistic children. I did not receive any response to my letter of 2 March 2007, which predates Kathleen's (attached for reference) and didn't really expect one since this is not my country, though my argument is basically that Christianity is universal and any action on the part of a recognisably Christian organisation that is fundamentally anti-Christian ought to be confronted.

Your response to Kathleen avoided addressing any of the real concerns that this "Truth is coming to light" event raises. Since you appear to have an aversion to meticulously researched facts, perhaps a more down to earth approach would be better.

You state that the Women's Division is guided by the United Methodist Book of Discipline quoting

"We encourage wise policies relating to the availability of ….drugs."

Wise policies are usually based on something other than the junk science your Lisa Sykes is aiding and abetting. You should try reading the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report of 2004. Contrary to the conspiracy theorists, the IOM is the expert panel of the American Academy of Sciences and quite independent of the CDC and FDA.

Your ignorance of this issue is very evident in the following:

"When pharmaceutical products and vaccines can be produced without mercury, we question why even trace amounts of this known neurotoxin are used."

The neurotoxin is there as a preservative - and so much for your vaunted 'support' for global vaccination. No preservative equals no vaccine in places like sub-Saharan Africa or anywhere else with a lack of reliable refrigeration. So which preservative has the endorsement of the Women's Division? Why not try thimerosal. It's proven to be a very safe preservative at the dosage used with no known side effects including neurological defects. Toxicity is a matter of dosage. We live in a world full of toxins including neurotoxins. Practically anything including water and salt can be toxic if the dose is right. Mercury is ubiquitous. Does the Women's Division have a plan to rid the planet of volcanic eruptions so we can avoid one of the main sources of Mercury? We actually are equipped by our Maker to deal with a whole host of nasties both animate and inanimate. Sure, we shouldn't overdo that. But tell me where in anybody's Science it is proven that the mere presence of small amounts of thimerosal is overdoing it?

"What is wrong with asking for clean healthy drugs for our children" you ask. I presume that this is an endorsement by the United Methodist Women 's Division for clean but not very healthy Lupron for children. When you dreamed up this idea that there is such a thing as 'mercury poisoning' of children diagnosed with autism, you also tacitly endorsed Rev Sykes lunatic treatment option – the chemical castration of small children so that all the fictitious excess mercury can be removed by the favourite method of quacks and charlatans - chelation. Do you have any idea what you are lending support to here? "Let the children come to me and do not stop them" in your concordance seems to be a recipe for the following.

First we inject a depot shot of Lupron every two weeks. It is a painful shot apparently but we'll give it twice as often as the manufacturer recommends because that seems to work better. Let's also give the child an injection of Lupron every day, not recommended by anybody, but who needs a paediatrician? We've got this fake Institutional Review Board, which Rev Sykes is a member of and they rubber stamp every step we make. Every few days we give the child some DSMA (chelator). This makes them feel ill and upsets their tummies but they'll get used to it.

So here we have a child both terrorised and made miserable based on no science whatsoever and you say that your mission is to protect children? The long-term effects of both the castration and the chelation are unknown by the way.

The horrible awful irony of this event you're organising is the spectacle of an expensive conference to render a phantom issue mute while simultaneously supporting real child abuse, which is what chelation and castration amount to.

Yours sincerely

Sunday, May 13, 2007

DAN! Down Under

14 May 2007

Dr Morton Rawlin

Director of Education

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

1 Palmerston Crescent


Dear Dr Rawlin

The Sydney Morning Herald of 3 May published an article titled ‘A Fresh Approach’ describing the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) biomedical protocols for treating autism. The article also served as an infomercial for a conference on DAN! Protocols organized by the Mindd International Forum on Children’s Health (Mindd) to be held in Sydney on 18-21 May 2007. The registration form for the conference prominently displays that attendance counts towards the QA&CPD points Program of RACGP. I would ask that RACGP reconsider that position. Perusing the program and the speakers, the thrust of this conference is a focus on marginal theories of autism causation combined with treatment strategies, for which there is little to no evidence and where the treatment could be said to have unacceptable risks associated with it. Chelation for metal toxicity in the absence of a diagnosis of metal toxicity based on usual criteria and mega-dosing of nutrients to correct for deficiencies identified by highly questionable means come to mind as high risk procedures of unsubstantiated benefit.

I would like to expand briefly on the practices and beliefs of three of the international presenters at this conference, Dr David Quig, Dr Richard Lord and Dr Anju Usman. I am not familiar with the other presenters, but these three should suffice to illustrate why a reputable organization might wish to distance itself from even the appearance of endorsing the activities of the Mindd.

Dr Quig is Vice President, Scientific Support of Doctor’s Data a mail order laboratory in St Charles Illinois. (USA). To plausibly demonstrate a need for detoxification, a lab like Doctor’s Data is necessary. I refer you to the urine toxic metals screen and the sample lab report on the Doctor’s Data website. [1] It has a few interesting quirks. Notably, the reference ranges are one standard deviation, not two. The reference range for mercury is about a third of that cited by other laboratories such as Labcorp, using the same equipment and method. Putting these together the probability of getting an ‘elevated’ result from a healthy individual is over 50% with just two tests. Naturally, the testing is a panel for multiple metals. Two other factors conspire to practically guarantee an elevated result from the target population, autistic children. Doctor’s Data accept single urine samples and quantify the results as per gram creatinine. A recent study in Paediatrics International states “a significant decrease in urinary creatinine was found in the PDD group compared to controls” and recommends “to use other internal or external standards for the quantification of urinary compounds in PDD research.” [2] This phenomenon is fairly widely known. It is also a common practice to use a ‘challenge’ test to demonstrate metal toxicity. A succimer chelation agent is administered several hours before the urine is collected. The reference ranges, however, are for unprovoked samples.

Dr Richard Lord is the expert on nutriceuticals. His lab tests for organic acids on the principle that autism is a collection of inborn errors of metabolism that are just short of producing a full-blown syndrome. Though he uses phenylketonuria as an example, the implication is that there are deficiencies to be corrected rather than absences and this can be done through nutritional means, though this is clothed in impressive biochemical language, co-factors and the like. I refer you to his article on the subject, which is informative [3]. This may be the Science of the future, where everybody’s metabolic fingerprint can be identified and drugs, diet or whatever can be tailored to the individual. It is not the Science of the present and is decidedly experimental when used to dose or overdose autistic children with a variety of vitamins, enzyme cofactors etc. As with the testing of toxic metals, the reference ranges do not accommodate the low creatinine levels seen in autistic children. Therefore they are at high risk of receiving megadoses of nutrients based on lab results that are erroneously inflated. Interestingly, Doctor’s Data warns against using urine samples to test for nutritional metabolites so there’s not a lot of consistency in this field.

Dr Anju Usman is rather well known among DAN practitioners as a firm believer in the benefits of chelation. I refer you to a presentation she gave on the subject that was recorded on Autism One Radio. [4]. For Dr Usman, apparently the behaviours associated with autism are either symptomatic of mercury or lead toxicity, with the occasional dose of hyperactivity from aluminium toxicity. Autism presents simply as a challenge to find the best means of ‘safe’ chelation. There is no such thing as safe chelation. The risks of organ damage and the effect on bone mineral density are generally weighed against the real need to lower toxic metal levels and with no expectation that lowering those levels will have any positive effect on the neurological function of the child, since it never has in cases of real metal toxicity. But this is not the way it happens with these practitioners. Dr Usman was the DAN practitioner who, according to the Pennsylvania State Medical Board enquiry, was responsible for recommending EDTA chelation of five-year old Abu Bakar Tariq Nadama for alleged high aluminium levels.[5] She referred him to Dr Roy Kerry, who gave Tariq IV Na-EDTA instead of Ca-EDTA and the boy died of sudden cardiac arrest.

Lately, there’s been a new spin put on the dubious hypothesis that autism is a species of metal toxicity. A father/son team, Dr Mark and Mr David Geier came up with the bright idea that autistic kids cannot excrete mercury because they have excess testosterone, which binds the mercury in the body. So, they developed and patented the ‘Lupron Protocol’, whereby autistic children, girls as well as boys, some as young as four and five are chemically castrated with leuprolide (Lupron) and then chelated. The biochemical justification for this is bizarre to say the least. Dr Usman has had at least four patients go through this protocol. [4] according to the proprietor of Autism Media and a client of hers.

I have every faith in the skepticism of the average Australian GP and perhaps these conferences serve to keep our GPs abreast of what’s new in fringe Medicine this year. There is a crying need for education of primary physicians about autism for many reasons. Autistic children need protection from indiscriminate experimentation under the guise of novel treatment. There are issues of diet with many of these children due to sensory hypersensitivities. Whether these children are more prone to Coeliac than the general population is suspected but to my knowledge, not confirmed, but I could be wrong about that. There are known problems with autistic children being essentially denied medical treatment because of a combination of communication problems on the part of the child and false beliefs about autistic behaviours on the part of the physician. Perhaps RACGP would consider liaising with Professor Bruce Tonge of Monash University, an expert on Autism, to develop a real course for primary care physicians.

I have copied this letter to Australian Doctor in the fond hope that the journal could do a piece of investigative journalism that counterbalances the uncritical and frankly credulous efforts of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Yours sincerely

Cc: Professor Bruce Tonge

Professor Peter Mudge

Dr Lynn Buglar, Australian Doctor


1. http://www.doctorsdata.com

2. Spot urinary creatinine excretion in pervasive developmental disorders
Source: Pediatrics International, Volume 48, Number 3, June 2006, pp. 292-297(6)


3. Autistic therapies focused by laboratory data. Part I: Organic acids Richard S. Lord, PhD


4. Dr Anju Usman


5. http://www.circare.org/pd/kerry_ordertoshowcause_20060908.pdf

6. http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/tddmps/message/1038?threaded=1&p=8

With many thanks to Mike Stanton, Kathleen Seidel, the Diva, Prometheus and anyone else I've missed who had all the very best information and/or analysis right there on their blogs.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Fine Art of Representation

What does it mean to be a representative of the autistic spectrum and who qualifies seem to be some of the perennial questions in autism advocacy. When someone speaks from the perspective of a spectrumite, should we take note and if so how much? The issue has moved further into the orbit of my conscious focus since the Canadian Senate hearings but it was always lurking somewhat in the background. Thomas McKean has some fairly definite views on the subject and I’d like to borrow one of his lines because this I can agree with:

“There needs to be accountability…., because representing the autism community as a person with autism is one serious responsibility.” [1]

Just so. The person who raises their hand and waves the diagnostic banner is by implication, a representative of the spectrum, and like other ‘representatives’ is subject to a largely unwritten code of conduct. If, by analogy, an elite athlete is representing their country at an international venue, their actions are not judged solely on their sporting prowess. Should they find themselves in an acrimonious exchange with the local citizenry at the pub or in the parking lot, they may well find themselves on the first available plane home because they are not representing merely themselves, they are also acting as representatives of their country. Similarly, I think we have the right to expect that those with ‘credentials’ who speak on autism issues will not bring the spectrum into disrepute. They should have a care, because they are in effect representing more than themselves.

Disrepute is rather broad and practically anything can be made to fit, but there are some situations where it could be said that the transgression is clear. I should add that in re-reading the material on this, I found it quite reassuring to find that spectrumites are just as muddle-headed, irrational, driven by agendas and prone to having their intellect trumped by their emotions as any other specimen of the human race. [2] Heading the list of the irrational is this blog commentary following the publication of Amy Harmon’s article, “How About Not 'Curing' Us, Some Autistics Are Pleading”, which caused something of a ruckus, particularly among some parents of the autism community.[3] The blogger made quite a few opening remarks about Michelle Dawson: [4]

  1. She claims to speak for autistic people across the spectrum
  2. Even if she has Aspergers , this doesn’t qualify her equate all forms of autism with her own life experience.
  3. She claims most cases of autism resolve into unique quirkiness that should trouble no one.
  4. She has no concern for parents facing the possibility of having a 40 year old toddler.
  5. She speaks as if she knows more than they do about their children.

Those opinions were then followed by the fiction that Ms Dawson’s comments in the article painted a rosier picture than the reality and the usual response from some sections of the autism community like ASAT, that is, appeals to every emotional red herring in the book.

Assertions1 to 4 are not backed by anything the author read in either Amy Harmon’s article or any other of Ms Dawson’s articles including the Misbehaviour of Behaviourists. Assertion 5 is merely illogical and the comment is as I said, a fiction. Michelle’s contribution to the article were miniscule really and insufficient to paint any kind of picture, rosy or otherwise. So, how could the author get this so wrong and she a card carrying member of the spectrum? I suspect that she hadn’t read the article or any other of Ms Dawson’s articles and was relying on the testimony of the folks at the Wampum blog. This seems reasonable as she calmed down quite a bit after she had done some reading and became quite conciliatory though this was marred somewhat by her final offering – some of the finest social reasoning I’ve ever read. The folks at Wampum should be proud. [5]

“When it comes to framing a message that wins the support and cooperation of others, anything that doesn’t have that as its foundation [the goal of self sufficiency] won’t register with people.”

She’s probably right about that but Lord, it was just as much dancing around the issues that had been raised by introducing others that hadn’t, which is not a tactic that I usually associate with the spectrum, but there it was. The important thing here – she made a host of unsupported and unjustified assertions – not a representative to be proud of.

The first point that she made - that Ms Dawson claims to speak for autistic people across the spectrum needs addressing. Many people have made that assertion about ‘autistics’ usually when said autistics are spouting words they do not like. For Thomas McKean, the point is central. Only those with the proper diagnosis at the proper age can speak for the spectrum. As far as I know, Michelle has never claimed to be speaking for anyone but herself and as far as I can work out, Mr McKean is wrong. It simply isn’t possible for anyone, spectrumite or not, to be able to make a valid claim to speak for the spectrum. In an interview I saw recently with Roy Richard Grinker, author of Unstrange Minds, he made the point that there is not ‘Autism’ but ‘Autisms’.[6] Therefore, Thomas or Michelle or anybody really can speak only for their bit of the spectrum and their own experience of it. That doesn’t mean that their view is unimportant, but as happens with similar issues, there are limits and these limits are well understood. Going back to our representation analogy, if the Prime Minister gives a rousing speech on this wide brown land of ours, he speaks as a citizen and would be expected to know far more about it, on many levels that a visitor. He speaks with authority. If Thomas McKean gives a rousing speech on autism, he speaks with authority also, but not with absolute authority. It is well understood that there are limits because the group just like the citizens of a country are heterogeneous. No one expects the Prime Minister or Thomas McKean to be representative on all points or to speak for all parties, unless you have a grievance and then you get the specious argument that Michelle or someone else cannot speak for the spectrum. Well duh! is appropriate here.

Why have autistics speak at all? I think it’s important, crucial even. There is apparently an autism conference circuit, which promotes autistic speaking though as some have pointed out – this can degenerate to the level of ‘self-narrating zoo exhibits’ to quote Jim Sinclair. Obviously there are a lot of people who want to hear the story from the inside track but the frame for that story and its overall message may not be what spectrum residents wish it were.

There are roughly two ways of looking at autism, which dictate what kind of message is delivered from the autism pulpit. The first is that autism is a devastating disease, just like cancer for which a cure must be found. Any condition that takes such a toll on everyone involved in terms of finances, health and happiness should be prevented at all costs. Naturally the proponents of the ‘Cure for Autism” want to hear a message that supports their endeavours. Enter Marty Murphy. She’s your gal. Her “My Name is Autism” piece is a kind of free form poetry version of the Autism Speaks video ‘Autism Every Day’ and makes the same points – all in support of the basic thesis that autism is so terrible that eradication would be a mercy for all concerned. [7] The interesting point about Marty’s forays into public speaking is her representation of herself. Her co-author of ‘My Name is Autism’ is an Omri Fiman, a young non verbal autistic male. But not really, because Omri Fiman is really Marty Murphy, a middle-aged verbal autistic female. Stranger still, ‘My Name is Autism’ is practically a verbatim plagiarisation of a piece written years earlier by a non-autistic mother. [8] As far as I know, Ms Murphy is still a highly regarded speaker on the autism circuit in the wilds of Illinois and neighbouring states and an upstanding member of her local autism chapter. What is bothersome is the uneasy feeling that here might be an extreme example of an Uncle Tom Autie (UTA). There is always a proportion of any population for whom self-immolation is attractive and just as Uncle Tom made the perfect apologist for the natural order of things pre-civil war, that is, slaves good when subservient, Marty Murphy apparently enjoys portraying herself as a festering ‘thief in the night’ and a whole lot besides. There could well be shades of S & M in the mix but I don’t understand this very well. I do know that I find people who are into advanced masochism, complemented by the quite amateurish subterfuges of Ms Murphy, embarrassing. I also dislike laying the blame for this fiasco on the local autism chapter for deliberately selecting the most suggestible and gullible autistic they could find and using that person as a public relations device. That would suggest that autistics are dumb little innocents who cannot take responsibility for their own actions, not a position that I am keen to champion. But then, I’m not in the pro-cure crowd.

The thing with remaining at arms length with the cure factions of autism advocacy is for me a conviction that autism is not a defective but otherwise normal person wearing autism like a medieval chastity belt while the parents search frantically for the key. Autism is a different way of being if recent studies in perception and neurological configuration are anything to go by. That does not mean that autism cannot be disabling and terribly disabling. Many conditions that are not autism can be equally disabling. However, no one uses the worst manifestations of those non-autistic conditions to say that this is the reality for people, all the people, who are not autistic. And no one asserts that the disability is all that there is to the person either. Somehow the likes of Autism Speaks manage this without a hitch for autistic folks. God knows why. There are it seems quite a few autistic self-advocates who buy into the rhetoric. Thomas Mc Kean comes to mind. [1] He is very much pro cure according to his private email to 67 luminaries of the autism conference circuit even though that position is somewhat qualified by being targeted to the ‘more severely affected’. The first point for Mr McKean and others of that ilk to consider is that primarily, if autism is a defective state of normal, then they have nothing to say that is of value. Far better to have a non -defective speak on their behalf. It would be ethical to consult with them on treatment options but that would be a form of noblesse oblige and other than that, what they would have to say would be pretty meaningless.

The second point to consider is that buying into the rhetoric is neither here nor there, if you are merely a parent, but if you are speaking as a representative of the spectrum, you had better be able to support that rhetoric no matter where you found it or from whom you heard it. To illustrate, Mr McKean’s private email to the 67 autism circuit luminaries contained a number of sweeping statements concerning those who say ‘ABA is wrong’ and those who apparently don’t want to see autistic children medicated, using the line that anti-epileptics are necessary and that clonidine is useful. There are no references for what exactly was written or said or the people involved and that is certainly transgressing the boundaries of proper representation. [9] It is not therefore possible to judge the veracity or otherwise of Mr McKean’s assertions. The reference to anti-epileptics doesn’t inspire confidence. Those opposing medication of autistics are generally talking about anti-psychotics. Perhaps Mr McKean has never heard of APANA and is unaware of permanent side effects of anti-psychotics such as tardive dyskinesia. [10] He may not be aware that the usefulness of clonidine is limited by its side effects, which include sedation and fatigue.

In a similar fashion, Jason Oldford appeared before the Canadian Senate. [11] Part of his testimony included this line: “ Just think of how many children will not be in group homes or institutions. Think of how many children will be able to contribute to society if they get this treatment.”. He, himself, did not get this treatment and he’s not in an institution and as far as I know not even Gina Green has gone so far as to claim that ABA is sufficiently miraculous to keep autistics out of group homes and institutions. It is necessary to have a care and a little more scepticism in some of these advocates wouldn’t come amiss. I know, or think I know what drives some of this advocacy – a desire to do anything at all to mitigate the distress of parents, even as Brigitte Harrison noted in her testimony to the Canadian Senate, conducting sessions on “mourning, on post-diagnosis shock”. [11] Has the Federation quebecoise de l’autisme considered that they’re essentially asking a person to mourn her own existence? And they say that autistics have a problem with empathy. Thomas McKean, Jason Oldford, Brigitte Harrisson and Natasha from the Wampum blog would run rings around the great majority of socially wired folks in the empathy stakes.

Their empathetic abilities, however, do not give them carte blanche to spout nonsense, even when that comes from a seemingly respectable source. Seemingly respectable sources may not always be truthful. Kit Weintraub was ‘the voice from the trenches’ following the publication of the ‘Misbehaviour of Behaviourists’. [12] She was very ready to tell the world how effective ABA was for her two children. Though more successful with her son than her daughter, she still reported that her daughter was a ‘happy ten year old’. Fast forward 2.5 years and the story has changed. [13]

I have two kids with autism, one, a girl, twelve, who is extremely self-injurious. We have run a very high quality ABA program for her for years, but could never get rid of the self-injurious behaviors. Only on risperdal are they reduced, and we have seen her gain close to 100 lbs on the medication. We have had all sorts of behavioral experts come in and try to extinguish the behavior with positive behavioral interventions, unfortunately, they did not work.”

Harold Doherty sees himself as a proper sort of autism advocate, but even he is not always reliable and in this instance downright misleading. Listening to Harold, one would think that Laurent Mottron was a pychiatrist dabbler around the fringes of autism research, since this is how he refers to him: [14]

“Psychiatrist Laurent Mottron an alleged autism expert who publishes reports on dozens of autism cases a year, almost all involving high functioning autistics and Asperger's Persons, almost none involving the low functioning autistic persons who require such expensive intensive residential care and treatment as adults.”

Note the ‘publishes reports’ rather than the peer reviewed research that it really is and I’d love to know how he assessed the function level of the research participants or how that stacks up against other researchers. Knowing Harold, I doubt that he did any assessment at all, which rather nicely illustrates the necessity for paying attention to how arguments are framed and what supports them.

We need representatives from the autistic community speaking out quite desperately. There aren’t nearly enough out there to put the lie to the epidemic of mad stereotyping so de rigeur these days. There is an equal need for responsibility and accountability as Thomas McKean rightly points out. Second-rate or unverified second-hand is not nearly good enough.

1. Thomas McKean’s notorious email to autism conference folk may be found here: http://www.thomasamckean.com/articles/speaking.htm

2. It is just as dangerous to advocacy to assume that logic and rationality are hallmarks of the spectrum. That stereotyping is reminiscent of the ‘noble savage’ view of primitive peoples circa 1900s and we all know what happened to them.

3. Amy Harmon, How About Not 'Curing' Us, Some Autistics Are Pleading, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/20/health/20autism.html?ex=1178769600&en=8fa333dbfe94b9ef&ei=5070

4. Kathy Cramer, Blog Commentary from Natasha: http://www.kathryncramer.com/kathryn_cramer/2005/01/a_response_to_m.html

5. Wampum blog


6. Roy Richard Grinker NPR interview: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7496704&ft=1&f=1033

7. Marty Murphy, My Name is Autism: http://www.asohalton.org/My%20Name%20is%20Autism.pdf

8. Anne Watson, I am Autism, 1978: http://www.mima8.com/Autism.htm

9. Mr McKean made an additional point, again without attribution, that the folks who were writing editorials against his email were the ‘self diagnosed’. [http://thomasamckean.com/blogs///index.php/general/2006/07/24/autism_liberation] He doesn’t reference it, bur if what he is referring to is the editorial on autistics.org [http://www.autistics.org/library/whoisautistic.html] then this statement is frankly dishonest. The authors are all diagnosed autistics. It’s this kind of carelessness that eventually earns one a reputation for being at best unreliable.

10. APANA: http://www.dinahm.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/

11. Senate Hearing Transcript: http://www.parl.gc.ca/39/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/Com-e/soci-e/12cv-e.htm?Language=E&Parl=39&Ses=1&comm_id=47

12. Kit Weintraub, A Mother’s Perspective on the ASAT website at: http://web.archive.org/web/20051216174906/http://asatonline.org/resources/library/moms_perspective.html

13. Kit Weintraub, Comments submitted to JRC on Friends of JRC website at: http://judgerotenbergcenter.blogspot.com/2006/04/comments-submitted-to-jrc-from-mother.html

14. Harold Doherty on Laurent Mottron:


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Blogging against disablism

On this May 1 2007 it behooves (word of the week) us to think about disablism and its converse ableism and what that means in the real world.

My view on this is very similar to abfh - every person on the planet is abled or disabled but some are more aesthetically abled or disabled than others. That is, the concept is heavily conflated with the fact that humans are not simply social but they're heirarchical with it, which leads to a pecking order mentality when it comes to ability and/or disability. This is the linear view of humanity and one I think is terribly truncated. The correct representation of humanity is as a multi-faceted gem (1). The more facets there are, the more it sparkles, which is what evolutionary theory concludes also.

Unfortunately, the holders of the keys to representation, psychologists and others of their ilk are probably more heirarchical than most. It is no accident that these folks are heavily invested in 'normal' and providing therapies to assist the afflicted in attaining the nearest approximation to normal that they can in the fond belief that therein lies the road to happiness. Alas, in purposefully dimming large swathes of those facets the whole gem shines less brightly, gathering the dullness of a synthetic conformity.

Anyone who has anything much to do with under-appreciated elements of society know this rather well because one of the unexpected bonuses of this position is a restored vision of the true sparkling nature of humanity. Some people call it joy.

1. This concept is a Phil Swartz original, though he applies it to religion.