Saturday, January 12, 2008

"House Autistic" Or More Neurodiversity Trash Talk

One of the unspoken truths about the neurodiversity "movement" is the extent to which ND adherents engage in Trash Talk in the form of offensive terminology like "curebie" "idiot" and even "retard" when referring to people whose views challenge their ND ideology.

Yesterday I posted about an autistic blogger named Jonathan Mitchell who wrote an article on his site urging other autistic persons and persons with an interest in autism to reject ND ideology to Just Say No to neurodiversity. I received a heated, and somewhat confused, response from someone who identified himself as "Robert Montgomery" although he provided no email address, link or url to confirm that name and I learned for the first time that autistic persons who disagree with the ND ideology are dismissed by neurodiversity adherents as "house autistics". They are also, apparently, dismissed as being liars about their past.

This particular "Robert Montgomery" seemed very upset that I had posted a comment about an autistic individual, Jonathan Mitchell, who dared reject the neurodiversity ideology. In fact he was so upset he posted his comment in response to the wrong article, posting incorrectly under my CNTNAP2 Gene And The Unravelling Of Autism Spectrum Disorders article. This alleged Robert Montgomery accuses Mr Mitchell of being a "house" autistic and declares that "sadly, like most house autistics, they lie about their past."

Show Original Post Collapse comments

Anonymous Robert Montgomery said...

There's one serious flaw to Jonathan's argument. Not many special education opportunities were available in the 1960's. I think Jonathan needs to change his story. The majority of students with recognized disabilities, and I would presume feces smearing would have been considered a disability even in the 1960's, were in segregated institutions. The IDEA wasn't passed into law until Jonathan would have been 22 years of age. Nice try though Jonathan.

This is from the Georgetown University Press:

As the United States entered the 1960s, American public schools faced challenges in several areas. Discussions regarding social and economic inequality led to intense national soul-searching, with the sweeping implications of the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka decision affecting developments in law, politics, social policy, and certainly education. The federal government under President John F. Kennedy determined that much greater involvement on its part was necessary to stimulate action and ensure the enforcement of law, the protection of civil rights for all Americans, and the fulfillment of the promise of public schooling. Among educational professionals, questions about the rigor and direction of curriculum and instruction dominated educational discourse after the launch of the Sputnik satellite by the Soviet Union in 1957, leading to reform efforts in the teaching of most subject areas, science and mathematics. As deliberations about the appropriate purposes, character, and methodology of education intensified, special education found itself linked, directly and indirectly, to changes in the teaching of content and subject matter, the organization and structuring of schools, and the classification and categorization of students.

From 1960 through 1968, special education would continue its dramatic evolution, encountering significant challenges to its assumptions, structures, and operations. It maintained its remarkable expansion in terms of its number of programs offered and students served, even while special educators constantly maintained that an unacceptably low percentage of students who needed special education services were actually receiving them. The introduction and solidification of learning disabilities as a recognized category of disability rearranged and expanded the identified population of children with disabilities; the linking of disability with poverty, cultural deprivation, and minority status substantially altered views on the etiology and diagnosis of disability, especially in the area of mental retardation, shifting the ways in which discussions of special education services and purposes were framed. The number of people with disabilities housed in residential institutions kept increasing, leading to severely overcrowded conditions and serious charges that care and treatment of the residents all too frequently was cruel and inhumane. Such developments took place in the context of rapidly expanding federal involvement as well as heated debate about the propriety of segregated schools and settings, including those for students with disabilities.

Harold, really, a cursory knowledge of the disability movement in the US would have tipped you off that this man could have never spent 8 years in special education.

But like John Best, your not really interested in facts and I my guess would be that this comment too will never be posted on your website. That's ok, because I'm taking screen shots of them to show the world that your a dishonest person not interested in truth.

I'm sure you think your clever because you found a "house" autistic who supports your hatred of autism and autistic people who disagree with you. But sadly, like most house autistics, they lie about their past.

7:33 PM

I personally don't know what Mr. Mitchell meant by his reference to Special Education or whether, as Mr. Montgomery contends. no such "Special Education" could have existed at the time Mr. Mitchell would have attended school but I assume that Mr. Mitchell is telling the truth about a non-controversial matter of that nature. Obviously Mr. Montgomery, at least in whatever state of mind he was in at the time he posted the above note, is very quick to jump to conclusions about other peoples' honesty and character.

I have long known of, and been on the receiving end of, the heated nature of many internet autism debates. Mr. Montgomery's post though seems beyond the pale even by those standards. Hopefully his views of Mr. Mitchell and any other autistic person who presume to disagree with Neurodiversity doctrine are not shared by other Neurodiversity adherents.


jonathan said...

Hi Mr. Doherty Jon Mitchell here. Whether Mr. Montgomery wishes to believe it or not. I was a special education student throughout the 1960s during my childhood. Though there was no IDEA in the United States, i.e., no taxpayer subsidized special education, they did have private special education schools which my parents paid for out of their own pocket which I did attend.

Was he ever in special school? Or are these comments typical of people preaching neurodiversity claiming to know so much about special education when they themselves were never in it, do not have autism that is of a severe magnitude as mine is and claim to speak for all autistics but just engage in ad hominem attacks rather than presenting any facts. I am not sure dubnoff school, frostig school (where i went for after school tutoring have websites, but he might try looking at the websites and he will see those schools started in 1948, well before i was born.

Most "autistics" who preach neurodiversity really have not had experiences that are in any way similar to typical autistics and I suspect Montgomery is in this category, though I really don't understand what the basis of his argument was that I could not have been special education student.

jypsy said...

Although I belive you have me firmly placed in what you call "the Neurodiversity movement" (please correct me if I'm wrong), I do not use the words "curebie" "idiot" or "retard" to refer to *anyone*. (Countless other qualities you attribute to "the ND movement" also do not apply to me)

I support autistics speaking on autism, whatever their view (and object only when they claim to speak for all autistics). The Autistic Adult Picture Project is part of how I do that. Jonathan Mitchell has a page there, as do over 100 other autistic adults. Some, like Jonathan, link to their own webpages and/or blogs from their A2P2 page. Some others have no webpages or blogs, they do not write/type, they do not speak (their info was submitted by their parents and/or guardians).

I believe Jonathan is wrong when he says "A number of high functioning autistics claim that there is a consensus among all autistic persons that finding a cure for autism would be a horrible thing." I have never heard anyone claim any consensus among *all* autistic persons about *anything*. Anyone who does make such a claim, as Jonathan proves, is obviously wrong.

Anonymous said...


If Harold bothered to post my follow up from yesterday, you would have the answer to this question.

Most "autistics" who preach neurodiversity really have not had experiences that are in any way similar to typical autistics and I suspect Montgomery is in this category, though I really don't understand what the basis of his argument was that I could not have been special education student."

In the early 1960's, the only special education schools available were institutions and schools for the deaf and blind. (See Lovaas 1964 Harold for a reference). There weren't any "schools" for the developmentally disabled that wouldn't be classified as institutions today. So, yes, unless you can point me to the school, I claim you are lying. But, I would be prepared and would accept a correction.

However, he never bothered. I spent 10 years in special education, the first 3 of which were in an institution. I'm even willing to give you the name of the school "The Orthogenics School". Now, you can call and verify it as well as you have my name. Unlike you perhaps, I did not graduate with a diploma, but a certificate of completion.

Robert Montgomery

Autism Reality NB said...

Mr Montgomery

You sent two comments to this site and BOTH have been posted even though the first was posted to the wrong comment section.

jonathan said...

hi Montgomery, go to click on about us and then click on history it will show that this school existed in 1948. i was a student there from 1961 to 1964 If you really went to the orthogenic school which i doubt you really did, then you would know that it was also in existence in the 1960's as was reported in Bettleheim's The empty fotress which was published in 1967. This suggests to me that you are the one who is lying and I challenge you to go to dubnoff's web page and do what i instructed and tell me it was not in existence in 1948. To be blunt, Montgomery, you should either put up or shut up. If you have evidence If was a never a special ed student then prove it. I have shown pretty compelling evidence, though I will admit not unequivocable proof that it is unlikely you really went to the orthogenic school as this would be inconsistent with your claim that there was no special ed schools prior to enactment of IDEA.

Anonymous said...


I'll send you a picture of me and Dr. B. Will you post it? I'll also send you a picture of my certificate of completion. I want Jonathan to send you a picture of his diploma. As long as we are battling who is gimpier, let's have at it.

Jonathan, you have my name, call the school. I stand corrected as I said I would be willing. I don't doubt you now. But, you should extend to me the same consideration. You don't speak for me so stop pretending that you do.

Robert Montgomery

Anonymous said...

Well special education in the UK existed since the 60's as I recall.

I have known people who have gone through segregated schools, and those who have gone through mainstream schools, not a lot of difference in the end, none of them had satisfactory experiences.

It's the system not the condition that causes the discontent.

I wonder if Jonathon were in better circumstances in his present life, he would still want a cure, what he needs is a cure from the social stigma he has wholeheartedly imported into his self conception.

It's "poor bugger me" syndrome not autism that is the problem

Maya M said...

Frankly, I don't understand the point of this discussion, as well as the claim of Jonathan Mitchell that those who haven't been in special education (the sort he has been in) have no right to say they like themselves as they are.
If disabled students are placed in educational institutions that violate their rights, this is a reason to attack the institutions, not the disability. The same situation can occur in a context unrelated to disability. Many people have experiences similar to Mr. Mitchell's, or worse, as a result of being Jewish, black or female.

Maya M said...

Excuse me for another comment - I wanted to post it on Mr. Mitchell's blog but I don't see there the necessary buttons. Of course it is his business whether to allow comments on his own blog.
He seems unhappy for receiving personal attacks. I wish to offer him a tip to minimize such attacks in the future: Avoid making personal attacks yourself.
In his "Just say no" post, he attacks some people personally. They include two individuals whose writings have been of much help to me and my child. For this, I am thankful to these neurodiversity bloggers, I see greatness in them and I don't care whether they have a genuis of any kind and whether they are able to hold paid jobs. (I don't associate greatness with the ability to earn money.)
I admit that I also sometimes feel like a little cyberwar and make personal attacks. And I have mentioned that in these cases, the people attacked tend to strike back.

Autism Reality NB said...

Maya M

Do you agree with Mr Mitchell that some high functioning autistics would like to be cured or treated for their autism symptoms?

And what do you think of Mr Montgomery's personal attacks against Mr Mitchell? Do you condone those?

Maya M said...

(1) Yes, I know that such autistics exist. I've mentioned Sue Rubin. There is a talented young musician named Kat Wyand who wants to be cured of her Asperger's syndrome. And I know an autistic young man who clearly wants a cure but I am not sure about his functioning level (check to see what I mean).
(2) I do not condone Mr. Montgomery's personal attacks against Mr. Mitchell... unless they are a deliberate attampt to show Mr. Mitchell how one feels when a stranger without knowing a thing about him calls him a liar.
Because Mr. Mitchell arbitratily accuses his opponents of inventing their autism, or at least in having a negligibly mild autism, if it has developed differently from his own autism, or if they are female. How much I love when men dismiss women's suffering, calling "light" the pain accompanying the first sexual intercourse, demanding us not to complain during pregnancy or even to be silent during childbirth! Here, you have the autism variety of this phenomenon.
There are men with mild autism and women with severe one. In fact, one of the women attacked by Mr. Mitchell has Rett syndrom, an ASD type considered by experts more severe than autism proper. As for Ms. Baggs' multiple and late regressions, they are rare but not unheard-of among autistics. I've read a therapist's remark about her client, an 8-year-old autistic boy, that he had regressed many times and nobody knew when he would regress again. I hope this wouln't happen to my son, but if it does, the last thing I want is strangers accusing him of inventing a disability to make himself interesting.

jonathan said...

maya your cleary not thinking straight. Whom did I claim in my post invented their autism? How did I attack the Rett's girl? If you believe that I am attacking her by taking umbrage at the fact that she is claiming the fact that there are people like Mr. Doherty and myself that want a cure are responsible for the murder of katie mccarron and small autistic children then that is your problem, not mine. I have no regrets that I took her to task in my article for her behavior which was way far over the line of decency. If she really does have Rett's her Rett's is not anything like the vast majority of persons who have Rett's who are usually severe retarded as this individual claims that she has a genius IQ, so your statements comparing her to typical persons who have Rett's has no factual basis. I think you are quite confused about my piece.

Ettina said...

Kassiane does indeed have atypical Rett's. If I understand, she now is 'high functioning' but used to be much more severely affected.
I suspect calling her 'angry' is part of the personal attack maya is describing.
Personally, I do not think you are responsible in any way for Katie's death. Karen is. However, part of what motivated Karen to kill her daughter is the pervasive negative view of autism that is so commonly accepted, and therefore encouraging that view is increasing the probability of parents deciding to kill their autistic children. You may be offended by the idea that your viewpoint contributes to the death of autistics, but unfortunately, it's true. People are frequently offended by the suggestion that their prejudice is causing problems (and being autistic doesn't mean you can't be prejudiced against autistics, either by distancing yourself or denigrating yourself as well).
Personally, I think all this debate about whether you were in special ed or not is irrelevant and hypocritical, considering how common it is for neurodiversity advocates to object to similar treatment themselves (for example, I was pretty upset when I was told by Ron Leaf that if I had normal speech without having received ABA treatment, I was clearly not autistic).
Lastly, pro-neurodiversity and anti-neurodiversity advocates have both had the full range of the kind of experiences autistics tend to have. The only difference I've noticed is a possible correlation between how their parents viewed them and their own view. If you go on the FC listservs on yahoo, which are mostly populated by severely autistic people, a large proportion are opposed to curing autism.

Ettina said...

Personally, I think 'house autistic', 'token autistic' and 'shiny autistic' are generally used to refer to famous openly autistic people who are commonly invited to conferences and either have mainstream views about autism, portray their views as more mainstream than they are, or are simply ignored when they express non-mainstream views (this last group is not usually called 'house autistic', more often the other less derogatory terms). Examples include Temple Grandin, Donna Williams, Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadyay, Sue Rubin, etc. I frequent a number of autism-related lists which are primarily populated by autistics and aren't specifically neurodiversity-supporting, and I can attest that those of the 'shiny autistics' who wouldn't be in the minority viewpoint on those lists are of the third, selectively ignored, type (for example, Tito, who has expressly advocated for greater acceptance of autistic people in his book The Mind Tree and elsewhere).

Autism Reality NB said...

Ettina I have never seen the expression "house autistic" used in the manner you suggest. In fact I had not seen it used at all until the post from Robert Montgomery.

And it certainly is not the way in which Mr. Montgomery used it. Mr. Montgomery's usage was a clear reference to the derogatory term used to describe African Americans who resided in the slave owners home or house during the slavery era in the US.

Karen A. Scofield said...

I think it prudent and wise to point out that the differences between the concept of neurodiversity spread across many academic and other disciplines/interests and ND ideology popularized in any false dilemma ND vs. curbie fashion are huge differences.

The concept of neurodiversity, of course, extends past the bounds of autism and PDD and acknowledges that autism and PDD will be further differentiated and reconfigured multiple times within the contexts of further discovery.