Friday, July 09, 2010

Misrepresentation of Autism Disorders: Autism Reduced to a Trendy Label?

The DSM5 will formally recognize Autism Spectrum Disorder. This New Autism Spectrum Disorder has actually been used for a while in reference to the various Pervasive Developmental Disorders in the DSM-IV and has helped lead to the banishment from public consciousness of  those with Autistic Disorder and intellectual disabilities, the "full blown" autistics to borrow terms from both Steven Higgs on whom I commented recently and Michelle Dawson who appeared as an "autistic" before the Supreme Court of Canada in opposition to parents seeking government funded ABA treatment for ... Michelle Dawson ... sorry, my mistake ...  they weren't seeking ABA treatment for Michelle Dawson .... they just wanted to help their own children. 

Michelle's Dawson grandiose, and absurd, pretension of  knowing better than parents of autistic children what was needed for those children has been eclipsed since then only by her own rhetoric, the incredible, sad story of CNN's obsession with Amanda Baggs and of course, the New Yorker Magazine/Obama administration's  belief that the anti-autism cure,  autism is not really a disability,  barely autistic Ari Ne'eman should sit on important disability and autism committees.

The misnamed ASAN, Autism Self Advocacy Network,  founded by the ever skyward Ari Ne'eman (Can a position in the Obama cabinet be far away?) has also helped promote the Ari Career Movement.  Composed of lawyers, researchers, writers, professionals of various stripes it is anything but an Autistic Disorder movement. It  isn't even clear that the ASAN requires an actual PDD or ASD diagnosis for persons to consider themselves "on the spectrum". A more accurate name for ASAN by far would be BARN ... the Barely Autistic Rights Network.

BARN, Dawson, Alex Plank, Amanda Baggs replace actual Autistic Disorder with their own self images, the images of those who can function very well interacting with NY and Toronto  media and Washington  and Ottawa politicians.  "The full blown autistics" living in institutional care or otherwise living restricted lives are not in the minds of decision makers who determine whether funding will be made available for autism treatment, or what kinds of schools or residence accommodations should be available to those with actual Autistic Disorder.

"Stranded", author of the Stranded in Motherhood blog, in commenting on my post about Autism Myths, said it very well:

"urrrgh, make so angry. Khaled wants to be cured. He wants to do things the way he knows other people are doing it, he is frustrated with himself when he cannot focus and his body wont stop moving....he is trapped. We see it in everything he does. And he is only 4! What a load of rubbish about individuals not wanting to be cured. I don't want my child's disorder to be sidelined as just "a difference", he is smart, funny, loving, gentle and severely disabled by AUTISM.

The real autism. Not the "trendy label" shoved down our throats by the media, but the real thing."

1 comment:

Adrianna said...

I like the increased awareness of ASDs that has come about in recent years, as well as the increased awareness of all mental health issues. It has made help available to people who need it who may not have gotten it in years past. But, obviously, the danger is that the pendulum will swing too far to the other side in which people will be incorrectly diagnosed.

People who are just developing differently might be called autistic. Someone going through serious, but brief, bereavement might be called clinically depressed.

The whole trendy label phenomenon isn't restricted to ASDs. Lots of people are calling themselves ADD or OCD or some other label. The reality that these are mental illnesses is obscured and they really think they are just descriptors. Just a little too energetic, just a little to particular. So when someone says they have OCD, the usual response is, "Oh, I have a little of that. It's no big deal." God forbid you reveal you are in therapy for it!

I don't claim to know who is really autistic, bipolar, etc. and who isn't. I assume if you have to see a professional, then there is a reason, even if the particular diagnosis isn't accurate. If you obviously have some problem and you obviously didn't *shop* for a particular diagnosis, then I will probably believe you.

But anyone can see that most of the people labeling themselve Aspie, ODC, etc. haven't seen a professional and don't think they have a problem.