John Elder Robison, for reasons that are unclear to me, is both an officer with Autism Speaks AND a critic of parents who seek cures for their children's autism disorders. Mr. Robison apparently has an Aspergers diagnosis. He is, according to a biography posted online at Red Room, an author, very successful businessman, and ... a former rock band member. He is not a researcher or health care professional and as far as I can tell he has absolutely no personal involvement with Autistic Disorder or those who are severely affected by their Autistic Disorder.
The life of John Elder Robison has no resemblance to my son's with Autistic Disorder and profound developmental delays or the lives of the 75-80 per cent of persons with Autistic Disorder. and Intellectual Disability. Like Alex Plank, Amanda Baggs, Michelle Dawson, Ari Ne'eman , and the entire corporate board of ASAN, JE Robison is a person with very High Functioning Autism or Aspergers who purports to tell parents of severely autistic children, and the world, what they need to know about all points on the autism "spectrum". John Elder Robison has been to IMFAR the annual mega autism research update and he is back to tell us that all is cool, all is geeky.
IMFAR has divulged, amongst other autism research breakthroughs that will help improve the lives of severely autistic children and their families, that having an autistic child does not increase the likelihood a couple will be divorced. Great stuff, there is hope indeed that autistic children will live better lives with that kind of groundbreaking scientific scrutiny taking place. Of course if we can improve the sensitivity and communication skills of PARENTS their autistic children will live better lives. No more talk of mercury, aluminum and other ingredients injected into children, or of the toxic materials that ooze from plastic toys and jewelry, or are inhaled from nearby smokestacks, or the ultrasound pounding of the brains of unborn children because environmental insults can not possibly cause neurological damage. And hey Andrew Wakefield was found to be unprofessional and therefore vaccines and toxic vaccine ingredients and vaccines contaminated with pig viruses should never, ever be questioned.
For Mr. Robison's part he informs us that IMFAR was a pretty cool place to be because, well, because there were lots of geeks there, and geeks are cool. They are "endearing and appealing" and of course there is the familiar JE Robison refrain that talk of curing autism is nonsense. You can help improve the debilitating aspects of autism disorders but you can not outright cure autism or autism(s):
"That summary pretty much describes all these folks on a professional level. These are not nine to five workers. There lives do indeed revolve around the unraveling of their individual bit of the autism puzzle. There is no talk of "cure" here. ... Many are married to geeks, or have kids on the spectrum, or seek to marry a geek or geekette. I have seen that particular scenario play itself out time and again these past few evenings in the after hours get-togethers. ... In closing, I will offer you this essential truth derived from my careful observation of my own Cubby, Alex Plank, and other young spectrumites in attendance here: If you are a female entering this world, be forewarned that it is a one-way trip. For once you Go Geek, there is no turning back. It only takes one date with an eccentric scientist or engineer – after that, an ordinary banker or business person will never do . . ."
John Elder Robison: A World of Geeks - IMFAR 2010
What is the difference between a treatment which ameliorates and a total cure other than the extent to which the autism disorder is "ameliorated"? John Elder Robison does not explain nor does he provide any basis for his declaration that autism disorders CAN NOT be CURED and WILL NOT be CURED. None at all. We, including those of us who have severely autistic children, are to take his word for it because, well because John Elder Robison is slightly autistic.
Although Robison is a very successful businessman, a father, a former rock band member, published author and a person who does not shun the media glare he knows better than me as a father who has cared for a severely autistic, intellectually disabled son for 14 years what it truly means for my son to be autistic.
For John Elder Robison autism is not about an inability to communicate, self injurious behavior or living your life in a residential care facility. And it is certainly not about the intellectual disability that is just coincidentally associated with 75-80 of those with Autistic Disorder. For John Elder Robison autism is about being a geek and not talking about finding cures for autism disorders.
Apparently IMFAR was a great place to be geeky and no one fouled the air with talk of curing autism
Hip, Hip, Hurrah.