"Autism as an identity, not a disease" features very high functioning university English professor Melanie Yergeau who serves on the board of directors of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, an organization composed of very high people on the autistic spectrum who promote Neurodiversity perspectives which present autism as a variation not a disorder. Ms Xu does not meaningfully present the other side of the argument by referring to the great number of persons with autism disorders, most diagnosed as children (unlike either Ms Yergeau or her founding ASAN member Ari Ne'eman whose "autism" symptoms were so mild as to escape attention until their college or adult years) for whom the challenges of autism disorders are much more serious than those faced by Ms Yergeau.
Many children, like my son diagnosed 14 years ago at age 2, were diagnosed early because their symptoms were severe and obvious. Unlike Ms Yergeau or Mr. Ne'eman autism is very serious for most of these children and will include cognitive challenges, limited communication verbal or otherwise, self injurious behaviors and lives spent in residential care of one level or another. For Ms. Yergeau, Mr. Ne'eman and their fellow ASAN Board of Director members autism may be just an identity to be embraced. If it is not actually a disorder for them, if it does not actually limit their daily functioning or prevent them from becoming professors, corporate directors, media celebrities or otherwise impair their lives why then did they accept a medical disorder diagnosis of autism or Asperger's in the first place.
Parents fighting to help their severely autistic children face many obstacles. One of the most obnoxious of such obstacles is the harmful ideology of ASAN Directors and other very high functioning autistic persons who feel the need to own the medical label which they embrace while telling the world it is not in fact a medical disorder. Not content to seek awareness of their specific high functioning autism realities they pretend to speak on behalf of others, including other peoples children, who are much more severely affected than they. They make public efforts to interfere with the efforts of parents seeking cure and treatment for their own severely autistic children.
The Michigan Daily's benevolent portrayal of this harmful Neurodiversity ideology is shameful, irresponsible journalism.