Monday, May 10, 2010

Discussing Intellectual Disability and Autism Invokes Hostility: The Laurence Arnold Example

"The difference with us and Harold Doherty for instance, is that do not draw a line above a notional IQ of 70, or a given level of functional speech and say, I don't care about the rest of you. We care about everybody."

Laurence Arnold,  In Regione Caecorum Rex Est Luscus, May 10 2010 

  I don't know what facts, if any, that Larry Arnold bases his conclusions on. I don't know how he has concluded that I do not care about high functioning persons with autism spectrum disorders.   For the record though he is wrong.   

As a member of the Autism Society of New Brunswick I  worked with a gentleman with Aspergers who was a major contributor to our organization and to the Canadian Senate committee that examined a number of autism issues in Canada.   I consider him a friend, from whom I learned much and have great respect for what he has accomplished. As a lawyer I have provided legal services to some persons with autism disorders, including Aspergers,    on a pro bono basis.  Since Laurentius Rex is fascinated with Latin he will know that pro bono is derived from the Latin "for the public good" and means in everyday language without compensation or free of charge.

I am not offended by Mr. Arnold's comment even though it is wrong.  It will be accepted without questioning by other members of the Neurodiversity  ideological segment of the  autism community.  Others will not even notice it.    I have had many nastier comments made about me than that by members of  the  "Neuordiversity" community.   

I include Mr Arnold's comment for two reasons. The first is  the relatively civil  language used. The second, but more important reason, I highlight Mr. Arnold's comment  is that it illustrates the anger felt by many persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnoses and  high functioning abilities toward any mention of Intellectual Disability in connection with autism.   I write often about the very clear association between Autistic Disorder and Intellectual Disability.   That is enough to invite  personal attacks and   has invited some angry responses in much less civil language.

To me it is obviously more than just co-morbidity, more than just  mere coincidence, when 75-80% of persons with Autistic Disorder also have Intellectual Disabilities. Simply pointing that out is enough to invoke hostility, even gently expressed hostility, from members of  the Neurodiversity community. Laurence Arnold doesn't approve of my discussion of Autism, specifically Autistic Disorder, and Intellectual Disability.  He is not alone in his disapproval.   

Mr. Arnold is free to react with hostility to my discussion of these related conditions.   He will be joined by others less civil in language than he but I will not be dissuaded.  I will continue to talk openly and honestly about Autistic Disorder and Intellectual Disability. 


Stephanie Lynn Keil said...

I definitely think you should talk about autism and intellectual disability because so few do!

Do you think that autism and intellectual disability are inherent or do you think they are separate disorders?

You hear a lot from the "Neurodiverse" about how they don't want to cure autism and I understand this. But I also understand wanting to cure someone who is profoundly disabled. But are they profoundly disabled because of autism or because of an intellectual disability?

Do you think that autism alone is sufficient to cause a person to be LFA? If that was the case I think that Temple Grandin and I would both be LFA but we are not.

Or do you believe that intellectual disability is what makes a person LFA rather than autism alone?

I would like your honest opinion on this.

In fact, this should be one of the main things you do discuss, in my opinion. I do kind of wish you would stop with the writings about ASAN, Ari Ne'eman and etc. because I honestly don't see what the purpose of those are (but this post about Larry Arnold was pretty spot on, for me).

Ari Ne'eman has been wrong about plenty of things (as have you), I don't agree with him about everything and sometimes I want to virtually punch him in the face, but, believe it or not, he does has good intentions.

I know it is hard for you to believe that but he does.

Adrianna said...

I never got the impression that you didn't care about those who are high-functioning. Naturally, though, since your son is low-functioning, you would focus on LFA issues. Since intellectual disability is not often talked about in autism discourse these days, and since your son is ID too, again, I expect that you would want to shed light on this.

Despite their claims to the contrary, most members of ND focus primarily on the high-functioning. And there is nothing wrong with this. HFAs have their own issues that they need help with. They just need to be honest about it, rather than claim that their advocacy applies to all autistics when it clearly doesn't.

But somehow, that's okay. And it's not okay for you to focus on LFA and other taboo topics such as ID.

Don't let it get to you (not that it would.)

The author said...

If I am wrong about your involvement with people on the other side of the IQ 70 divide

then I am wrong, and withdraw the comment with due civility.

As has been pointed out on both sides, it is not possible to gain a complete idea of

what a person does merely from there internet presence.

With regard to other matters regarding the prevalence of more severe intellectual impairment in autism, I think it is a case where you are in the minority with regard to current scientific opinion.

One reason as I am sure you are aware is the shifting descriptions of autistic

spectrum disorders as a whole, and changing diagnostic practice. However if you do go

back to Kanner you will see that he certainly did not believe, nor did his patients

evidence what you believe to be the case.

Thats not the point at all either, numbers and proportions are not the point. Autism

with a lower intellectual capacity does bring additional problems of it's own, just as

autism at the "shiny aspie" end does because the performance in one sphere is more

incongruous with the performance in another. I was critical of Ari Neeman's public information broadcast on the grounds that he significantly failed to represent the existence of the entire spectrum of autism as it happens.

Where we fundamentally differ is in that I do not believe that intellectual

retardation is a core deficit of autism, any more than it is of any other condition

such as epilepsy or cerebral palsy, it is an additional complication, in the same way

that tourettes or OCD might be with "high funtioning" autism.

You are a splitter, I am a lumper, but I do think that you will eventually be left

behind as research and revelation proceeds apace.

There is no need to be nasty to each other over such a difference of opinion is there?

I have had enough of that.

In this instance I was mistaken about you, but I can assure you, you have more often been mistaken about me.

Charlotte said...

Harold: I have known you personally for years and you have advocated for ALL children on the spectrum (regardless of functionality or age)... for anyone to suggest you have a narrow view of the autism situation is repugnant in my book: you have always been fair and well-researched in all your comments and opinions. I personally think it is extremely important that you continute to raise awareness of the other end of the spectrum because it IS a spectrum and too often (like you said) the public's perception is of 'shiny aspies' only -- life with an autistic child is damn hard, especially when the child is not high functioning. I consider your blog and your FB postings to be fundamental in raising awareness of the full spectrum. I will continue to support you in all that you do.

Autism Reality NB said...

Stephanie and Adrianna thank you and thank you for your comments Laurence.

Charlotte if I was preparing a list of people that a person would be lucky to have guarding their back ... you would be on that list.

Thank you all, including you Laurence.