Sunday, March 18, 2018
He extols the autistic self-advocacy network as an exemplary organization that has effected change in government and other areas. He feels the parents and grandparents who run the show at autism speaks are wrong to speak for autistics who don't like autism speaks.
Yet he feels fine with an organization consisting predominantly of extremely high-functioning women, including a college professor and a Harvard law graduate who is married, despite the fact there is purportedly a 6:1 ratio or more of high functioning male autistics to females speaking for the bottom 99% of autistics, myself included.
This is not to mention the fact that ASAN has encouraged self diagnosis in their members, so we don't even know if a good number of them are genuine autistic persons or not.
They reserve the right to use "the royal we" for autistic people by saying "we" don't want to be cured "we" don't like autism speaks, and "we" believe in neurodiversity.
ASAN also purports to speak for the lower functioning children and not even give the parents a voice as far as their own child is concerned.
It's interesting that autism speaks also has two autistics on their board of directors. Both of them oppose a cure, both of them are or have been married, one never attended a special ed school as I did for eight years, I doubt the other one did. One has stated that autism is a superpower. The other stated that autism isn't a disability but a strength. One was not diagnosed until they were 40 years old years after their own son was diagnosed and years after they offered their services as an autism consultant for hire. Interesting someone expert enough to charge money as an autism consultant would miss the possibility of autism in themselves for years.
I'm still waiting for ASAN to put a male pro-cure, anti-neurodiversity autistic on their board of directors as well as a pro-cure parent or two.
The double standards of John Robison never cease to amaze me.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
They recently did this with Judith Newman's "To Siri with Love" when the author expressed the idea she might want to obtain a conservatorship of her son, so she could have him undergo a vasectomy because she did not feel he could be a good father to children. People wrote to her publisher protesting the book, she received abuse and fuck yous on twitter and she alleges she even received a death threat. A few ND's even started a petition to have her son taken away from her, but then backed down.
There's a new book slated for publication "Autism Uncensored" by author Whitney Ellenby who depicts the angst of raising a severely autistic child. Several ND's apparently wrote John Koehler, the publisher, urging him not to publish the book, apparently they also threatened him with some sort of legal action, but the details are unclear. He has responded to the ND bullies.
I was every bit as offended by Steve Silberman and "Neurotribes" as these people are about Ms. Ellenby and "autism uncensored", but I did not threaten Silberman. I did not write to his publisher urging them not to publish or recall the book. I read the book cover to cover before judging it and then giving it the one star review it deserved on Amazon.
The ND's have taken umbrage to Koehler's statement that their actions make them appear less than intelligent and Silberman (him again) has been a provocateur on twitter, trying to incite the ND's, and we're sure to see fireworks:
What on God's earth? This is an official statement from a publisher? Oy gevalt! https://t.co/MdEoec1aFq pic.twitter.com/pbitO9HAcB— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) March 13, 2018
Gadfly commends Mr. Koehler for his decision not to back down and to respond to the ND bullies the way he did.
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Some people, John Elder Robison, most prominent among them, have criticized my anger and my negativity, stating I should devote more time to positive pursuits rather than spreading negativity. I've recently taken their advice and I'm now pursuing a new hobby, stand-up comedy. I've been taking a class in standup and two nights ago I reached a milestone at age 62 of performing my first open mike at a club. I was nervous and pretty sure I'd bomb before I went on. However, the performance went a lot better than I thought and I got some laughs and positive feedback from the small audience. I hope to do more open mikes in the future and I might publicize where i'm appearing on Facebook and Twitter.
I realize I'm not unique in being an autistic standup comedian. On perusal of the internet, I've discovered Byron Filler, Scott Vasquez, and Kevin Lucas. Better known than they are is the infamous Noah Britton and his Troupe Asperger's 'R' us. My short act includes humor about celibacy, The Good Doctor, celebrity diagnosis, my lack of success in writing, and that sick joke in the autism world, Autism Speaks. I haven't come up with any really good barbs about the neurodiversity movement, but I hope to do so someday as I still feel they are another joke in the autism world that's in poor taste.
My disability has made my life difficult. Humor can ease the pain of adversity, and might be useful as a Freudian-style defense mechanism. It's no coincidence that many comics have suffered from depression, Robin Williams probably the most well known of those. In my life, I may have made the mistake of taking a lot of my issues too seriously. I'm still not happy about autism or being autistic. However, I'm stuck with it and nothing I can do about it. Very late in life, I realize that sometimes you have to have a sense of humor about things.
I've had a multitude of interests: Poker, computers, writing, brain science, and, of course, autism. I tried to become a brain scientist or experimental psychologist many years ago, but failed to do well enough in college to get into graduate school. I took courses in computer programming, but was never good enough to do it professionally, and lost interest after a while. I've written some articles and books, both fiction and nonfiction, but was never able to get anywhere with my writing and have not been doing as much lately. I've lost a fair amount of money at poker, but it helped inspire my self-published novel, "The Mu Rhythm Bluff." Therefore, this standup thing may turn out to be another lark, and I may soon lose interest in it. However, it's good to have new hobbies and pursue shit and not put all your eggs in one basket.
Some people have asked me about videos or seeing a performance. I hope to eventually have some videos up someplace. I also may publicize where I perform at some point and people who are in the Los Angeles area or close by might get to see me live. We'll see what happens with this new endeavor and I may or may not keep people posted about it on this blog and social media.
Sunday, January 21, 2018
I’m an individual with an autism spectrum disorder that wishes to bring to your attention, problems with governmental autism policy, specifically with the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. This committee conducts policy recommendations for the federal government. The CARES act mandates that at least two individuals purporting to be on the autism spectrum are appointed as public members. So far, seven individuals who are opposed to curing and treating autism have been appointed, who believe in a philosophy called neurodiversity which purports that autism is not a medical condition, but an alternative form of brain wiring. Zero pro-cure, anti-neurodiversity autistics have been appointed as public committee members, though two have been nominated and turned down. I think this is totally unfair and it is not within the spirit of the law as the CARES act states that the viewpoints of committee members should be fair and balanced.
Furthermore, the two current autistic committee members, John Elder Robison, and Samantha Crane are very functional people who appear to have no overt disability. In fact, John Elder Robison has stated he has no disability. Samantha Crane is a very successful Harvard trained attorney.
Apparently, a person who purports to be autistic who wants to serve on this committee only has to self-identify and not provide any proof of a professionally obtained diagnosis. I asked them about this on social media and John Robison claimed that I was insulting him. Samantha Crane stated that there was no reason she should have prove her autism and made the false statement that she was not appointed to the committee because of her autism. Though Ms. Crane said she’d release her medical records to the IACC upon request, but not to the general public.
I write you this letter, urging you to introduce legislation to amend the CARES act to require public members of the IACC with an alleged autism diagnosis produce proof of professional diagnosis to the committee and the general public, and explain to the stakeholders in the autism community how autism has impacted their life and disabled them.
I wrote to the IACC via their invited public commentary that I felt the autistic public members should provide proof of a professional diagnosis and explain how in spite of their apparent functionality, how autism is impacted their life and how they are the least bit similar to the 99.9% of autistic individuals they serve and state they represent.
Afterwards, Ms. Crane, on social media, made the false statement that I was “told to mind my own business” and that “I was harassing the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee” for writing polite and invited public commentary that she did not happen to agree with.
I don’t believe that people who are stakeholders in the interest of a public committee should be spoken to this way, on social media, or anywhere else. I’m hoping you can write the acting Secretary of HHS, and the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and deal with Ms. Crane’s absolutely unprofessional behavior. I also feel the house and the senate should investigate the IACC and how the Department of Health and Human Services is vetting public members of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee and also introduce legislation to change the law, requiring autistic committee members to provide proof of a professional diagnosis and explain to stakeholders how their autism handicaps them. Your help in this matter is appreciated
Here's Ms. Crane's tweet:
Moreover, you've already complained to IACC and been told to mind your own business. You are free to keep harassing them if you want, since that is your First Amendment right. But you're not going to get anywhere bothering me on Twitter about this. No means no.— (((Sam Crane))) (@Samanticka) January 18, 2018
For those who feel as I do, I urge you to write the congress, the department of HHS and the president, and send comments to the IACC about this and maybe we can do something about this.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
I posted my second entry on January 20, 2008, where I discussed whether or not being opposed to neurodiversity meant being opposed to human rights.
Ten years seems an appropriate milestone to celebrate an anniversary, but to discuss the issue more thoroughly, some backstory is needed.
In 2002, I was on the national radio show Studio 360, plugging my first (and failed and unpublished) novel, The School of Hard Knocks about an 8-year-old autistic boy’s experiences in an abusive special education school, as well as a satirical take on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. An individual named Tim Boucher was so impressed with my interview, he built me a website which became Jonathans-stories.com, where I published some of my short stories and non-fiction writings. It also had a journal section powered by blogger, that I wrote in sparingly.
Some years later, I wrote my initial critique of the movement I loathe so much: Neurodiversity: Just Say No. Harold Doherty read my article and publicized it on his blog. This initiated some controversy among ND proponents who were not happy with my essay. This included the famous autistic autism researcher Michelle Dawson. She stated that she wanted to comment on my article, but that my Jonathan’s Journal did not have commenting and that Doherty would not allow her to comment on his blog. Others wanted to comment. I decided to start a more traditional blog that allowed commenting and I moderated comments.
Michelle Dawson engaged in an online temper tantrum, stating that because I moderated comments, she would not comment on my blog and that I was an opponent to human rights, though she acknowledged she did not know what rights I specifically opposed. I turned off moderation and invited her to comment on my blog, but she still declined.
After some of the nastier ND’s began to be extremely abusive to me, I turned comment moderation back on.
It’s been an interesting decade. I’ve discussed a variety of topics in my blog posts, but the majority of posts dealt with taking on the neurodiversity movement. I began to grow a small following and started receiving several comments on various blog posts.
A variety of coups took place. I found out from Steve Shore that Ari Ne’eman would be in Newsweek. I wrote about this asking for equal time. After Barack Obama appointed Ne’eman to the National Council on Disabilities, he denied that he’d ever said autism was not a disability while the senate decided whether or not to confirm him. I exposed statements where in fact Ne’eman did say that autism and Asperger’s were not disabilities. After publishing them on Gadfly, Ne’eman attempted to re-write history by editing one of the essays where he said autism was not a disability. Left Brain/Right Brain’s Matt Carey publicized the edited version, denying Ne’eman ever stated autism was not a disability Ne’eman, while denying he’d said autism was not a disability, acknowledged he’d made a mistake in the words he used in his essay, admitting that he could have been construed as implying it. He further stated that if that was the worst mistake he’d ever made in print, he’d consider himself lucky.
When someone was using Wrongplanet.net to threaten to carry out a mass shooting, I publicized this in my blog and reported the individual to the FBI. They apparently contacted the Swiss authorities where he lived and he was dealt with.
I’ve received a lot of flack from various people due to my blog posts. I’ve tried to keep a cool head, though sometimes I failed and I regret that. This happened when I was being mocked and insulted on the Whose Planet is it Anyway blog run by “The Autistic Bitch from Hell”. I didn’t turn the other cheek and wrote angry and inflammatory things back. I won’t offer apologies for my behavior, but I will offer regrets.
The media also took an interest in my blogs and writings. Andrew Solomon in his New York Magazine article on Neurodiversity gave me token mention to provide faux balance. He also mentioned me in his book, Far From The Tree. Benjamin Wallace also mentioned me and what I’d written about Simon Baron-Cohen in another New York Magazine article. A journalist in Australia also mentioned me on the website of a public television station article. A British journalist was going to interview me for the Sunday London Times, but that fell through. I published an article in Los Angeles Magazine. I was also on the NPR show, morning edition talking about donating my brain to science (regrettably Autism Speaks). Robia Rasheed used this to inspire the first scene of the first episode of her Netflix show Atypical. My desire for equal time in Newsweek was also granted some years later and the magazine did a profile about me, though they insulted me in the print edition with the title a hater’s guide to self-hating.
Though I can point to a few accomplishments, there are also the failures. For the past ten years, I’ve blogged against the neurodiversity movement, trying to show how flawed it is. Despite this fact, my pleadings seem to have fallen on deaf ears (though I may have figuratively preached to the choir who embraced some of my messages).
I never dreamed that the federal government would embrace neurodiversity and appoint several ND proponents to government posts relating to autism and appoint zero pro-treatment, pro-cure advocates. I never dreamed they would rename the Combating Autism Act to the CARES act because the term ‘combating’ offended neurodiversity proponents.
I never dreamed that the Autism Society of America would have people like Alex Plank and Steve Silberman as keynote speakers at their conferences.
I never dreamed that Autism Speaks would give up the search for a cure and prevention and change their mission statement, and appoint Nds to their board of directors However, given their half million dollar grant to Laurent Mottron, their putting John Robison on a science advistory board, and their funding of Alex Plank’s inane Autism Talk TV, I guess it should not have come as a shock.
Last but not least, I never dreamed the media would fete Steve Silberman and his book Neurotribes, enabling it to become a New York Times best seller.
I suppose nobody ever said that life was supposed to be fair.
Another interesting event happened yesterday which appropriately gives good culmination to my tenth anniversary. At yesterday’s meeting of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, John Robison mentioned comments I’d written to the agency, where I said the U.S. government should concentrate on doing science research that will lead to treatments and cures for autistic individuals and not concentrate on neurodiversity and accommodations. He also noted the comments I made that he and fellow IACC member Samantha Crane should provide proof of a professional diagnosis of autism or forfeit their seats on the committee. Ms. Crane also mentioned the fact I’d written to Dr. Joshua Gordon about her and JER’s attitude, and that she should release her medical records to Dr. Gordon, showing a professional dx as a condition of her serving on the IACC. She stated she would not release her medical records. In some subsequent interactions on twitter she stated that she was not appointed due to her autism, so her diagnosis had no relevance.
The reason I was nominated want my diagnosis, that's why they didn't ask for it— (((Sam Crane))) (@Samanticka) January 17, 2018
It's because I'm a representative from ASAN, a national autistic self advocacy organization, where I am director of public policy.
I am not there to talk about my own personal life.
This is outright dishonesty on Ms. Crane’s part, as the law specifically states that autistic persons are to be appointed to the IACC, ergo a large part of the reason she and Mr. Robison are there is because of their alleged diagnoses of autism.
I don’t understand how two such functional individuals, one a graduate of Harvard Law school, merit a diagnosis of autism, and I feel they should explain it to the public they serve as well as provide the IACC with documentation from a clinician they’ve been diagnosed. I don’t believe this is asking for too much. However, Robison and Crane think so, though Crane stated she'd release her medical records to the IACC if asked, but not the general public. In addition, my emails to Joshua Gordon, the acting secretary of HHS, and president Trump asking them to do something about this remain unanswered. This is the way it goes.
Ms. Crane and JER are not the only individuals whose autism I’ve expressed skepticism over. My detractors have occasionally turned this on me, saying that people could express skepticism toward my alleged disability and say Jonathan Mitchell can’t be autistic for xx reasons. I should provide some sort of proof of my diagnosis.
Though, unlike Crane, Robison, and others, I’ve never used a dime of taxpayer money to promote my agenda, my critics are absolutely right. It was a mistake for me to question others’ dx without providing some evidence of my own. Therefore I’ve rectified the situation and uploaded some paperwork from the Courchesne research group of my diagnosis that I used in my Disability case several years ago. I welcome anyone whose autism I’ve expressed skepticism of to do the same.
John Robison has repeatedly criticized me for only writing negative things about the neurodiversity movement on my blog and not trying to do something positive for the autism community. I’d much rather be a brain researcher, geneticist, or a wealthy philanthropist and do research to find answers for developmentally disabled people, or fund the research or fund jobs programs and housing for autistic people than engage in angry tirades against the neurodiversity movement. However, I don’t have the millions of dollars of autism speaks. Unlike James Simons, I’m not a multibillionaire, and I sure don’t have the resources of the federal government.
My ambitions to go to graduate school and become a brain researcher, experimental psychologist, or what not, didn’t pan out, so I can’t do research that might help ASD people at some point in time.
However, I do feel my work in exposing the nastiness and dishonesty of the ND movement is important and I feel it does good to point out all the harm they’ve caused and how their influence in both the private and public sector are impeding research into autism that could lead to scientific advances that can help those of us affected and their families.
Contrary to what some of the nastier Nds have asked me and/or written about me, I’m not a parent disguised as an autistic person writing these things. I don’t forge positive comments on my blog. I’m not paid to write these posts by Autism Speaks, Generation Rescue, Age of Autism, or Jill Escher or anyone else ND’s have accused me of accepting money from.
So, though I’m not blogging as much anymore, I will continue to speak out against ND from time to time, and maybe, on occasion, write blog posts on other topics also. Anyway, happy tenth anniversary to Autism’s Gadfly and We don’t need no stinking neurodiversity.
Addendum: Now Ms. Samantha Crane is stating that I'm harassing the IACC by writing invited public commentary which is polite albeit critical of some of its members and the organization's procedures:
Moreover, you've already complained to IACC and been told to mind your own business. You are free to keep harassing them if you want, since that is your First Amendment right. But you're not going to get anywhere bothering me on Twitter about this. No means no.— (((Sam Crane))) (@Samanticka) January 18, 2018
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Mr. Walker has also complained about Temple Grandin and John Elder Robison, referring to them as "tame autistics". Apparently, they are not strident enough in promoting the neurodiversity movement or adopting a bellicose enough attitude to suit Saint Nick. Based on some of my behavior on the internet over the years, I don't think he could say that about me. Though our ideologies are diametrically opposed, I think Walker or anyone else would have a hard time calling me a tame autistic. If anything, I've been a pretty controversial and wild autistic.
I recently renewed my interest in Walker as some months ago (though I was not aware of this until recently) he was claiming Autism in a Different Key authors John Donvan and Caren Zucker were in the process of making an anti-neurodiversity documentary. This was something I'd be interested in seeing. He warned neurodiversity proponents about this, urging they not consent to be interviewed by the authors as they would present any pro ND in the most unflattering manner possible. He correctly states that Donvan and Zucker presented Ari Ne'eman in an unfavorable manner in their book. It could be argued it was well-deserved, and if anything they were being charitable to Ne'eman in not presenting to their readers how truly bad he's been over the years.
If they're making this documentary, I'm curious why they didn't contact me. After all, I've had a pretty high profile as an autistic anti ND activist. I've been profiled in Newsweek, I've been on public radio shows and the Autism Live podcast, presenting this. Or perhaps Donvan and Walker don't want to get my side of the story, assuming this statement is not a fabrication on Walker's point. I won't provide the link to it, but the interested reader can certainly find it on YouTube and other places. I'll be interested to see if this documentary Walker claims is in the works will ever be made. I guess I'll see it if it is and it's available to me.
My interest was particularly piqued by some of his writings in a piece titled "five steps toward autism acceptance." He states:
Individuals and organizations that speak of autism as a “disease” or “tragedy,” and that talk of “curing” it, should be prosecuted for hate speech and incitement to violence, just as if they were advocating a “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem"
I have repeatedly said that I believe autism is a disease, a tragedy, and I've brooked no quarters in stating that I want to cure it. According to Nick, I should be a criminal and I should be prosecuted and apparently imprisoned. Apparently, Walker has never heard of something the people who founded this nation more than two hundred years ago wrote called the constitution. The very first amendment to the constitution gives us the right to free speech. Apparently Walker would like us to live in stalinist Russia. As a Jew, I'm also offended that Walker would bring my ethnicity and the holocaust into this. I strongly suspect that Walker is not Jewish unlike myself.
Walker is certainly not on the fringe of the neurodiversity movement. His neurocosmopolitan website is frequently quoted by individuals as giving valid information as to what the neurodiversity movement itself is about. It appears high in the google search on neurodiversity.
I feel the same way about describing autism as an alternative way of being rather than a disorder or the statement that people who want to cure autism are advocating prenatal abortion and genocide. But I would never advocate denying an ND proponent their free speech, no matter how vehemently I disagree with them.
I wonder how long it will be before Walker is appointed as an autistic member of the IACC. How long will it be before Autism Speaks has some involvement with him or maybe appoints him to their Board of Directors? Will the Autism Society of America have him as a keynote speaker at one of their national conferences? I wonder when I'll be imprisoned for stating my beliefs about autism because it's hate speech and I'm inciting violence. The way things are going in the autism world, it might not be a long way off.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
I wanted to write another post because, while I may not have had a whole lot of accomplishments in the now relatively long life I've lived, this one, I feel, is significant and I have some pride in it.
As I wrote in my previous blog, for a typical person, receiving retirement social security is another milestone in life, although probably the last one before they die and not really a big deal for them and an everyday occurrence.
For most people diagnosed on the autism spectrum, this is not a typical milestone. Unemployment rates between 85 to 90% are reported. A number of individuals with autism that I've met in real life and have encountered on the internet have been on SSI and have never had "substantial and gainful" employment as defined by the social security administration. Others I know, have been turned down.
I was very lucky to have supportive parents over the years, but there was still a question of whether or not I would have to apply for SSI and have to live on $900 a month from the government and not be allowed to have support from my parents, be only allowed to have $2,000 in the bank, and have other problems involved with having to be on SSI.
Fortunately, as I've mentioned before, I was able to work sporadically from age 24 (when I completed college) to age 51(when I retired from my last paid employment). However, it was very tough and I was fired from more than twenty jobs and may be in the Guiness Book of World Records for most jobs fired from. Working was an incredible struggle for me and I really suffered psychologically from all my firings and the other problems I had in various workplaces over the years where things got so bad I was forced to quit.
During the last nine years or so that I worked, I did medical transcription working from home as an independent contractor. Therefore, I had to pay twice as much into social security as a statutory employee to get the same amount back as the statutory employee.
After I stopped working, I tried to get SSDI, which unlike SSI, has no means test and not the same rules as SSI does, except you're limited in how much income you make from working. After a four and a half year fight, I did not prevail.
However, though I'm not getting quite as much as an SSI recipient would, it's close. I'd be getting more than the SSI recipient had I waited until age 66 and 2 months to claim benefits, but chose not to do that.
One of the nastiest individuals in the neurodiversity movement and one of my greatest detractors claimed that I could easily do a menial job and keep it, but because I'd gone to college, I felt this was beneath me. This is absolutely untrue, as I worked in a warehouse loading merchandise onto industrial palates as my first job and I applied for a job as a delivery driver when I was having problems with transcription jobs before I got my last independent contract gig. I would have done a menial job if that would have been easier and one I'd be less likely to be fired from than a transcription job, but there is no way this would have happened contrary to what some people's personal opinion of me is.
Others have espoused nasty attitudes toward non-working autistics. When I described what my situation was on Facebook in one post, a nasty ND called me an enabler and a quitter. Blogger and Autistic Self-Advocacy Network supporter, The Autistic Bitch From Hell wrote a blog post stating the reason some pro cure autistics protest ASAN's actions is because they're lazy loafers who are worried about losing welfare benefits because they won't take responsibility for their lives if they're forced to work.
Some of my readers may remember the blog post I recently wrote about the article Ron Sandison wrote where he and Temple Grandin criticized autistics who weren't working and the insensitivity and callousness Autism Speaks displayed when they published the post on their blog.
I only wish the guy on Facebook, the autistic bitch from hell, Mr. Sandison, Temple Grandin, and the geniuses who run the show at Autism Speaks could have felt my pain and humiliation at being fired from so many jobs. I wish they could have felt my pain from the bad treatment from I received from the California Department of Rehabilitation when I was first trying to learn medical transcription. I wish they could feel my pain when I tried to learn computer programming and could not do it. I wish they could have felt my stress anytime a supervisor walked by me and I was scared they were going to call me into the office to fire me.
I'm proud that I tried my best to work and had some success. Whatever happens during the rest of my life I'm glad I had one accomplishment and can point to a positive resolution.