Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Real Autism Questions for the Good Professor Baron-Cohen

Professor Baron-Cohen, purported autism expert, has been imbibing the Neurodiversity Kool-Aid.

At the British Association Festival of Science he professed his faith in the Neurodiversity cult which views Autism as simply another variation of the human condition, not one that should be cured. The good professor posits that a cure for autism is a long way off but even if we could cure autism he asks whether we should. Should we cure autism asks the learned Professor? To answer that question I have some questions, as the father of a severely autistic child with actual Autism Disorder and limited communication abilities, for the good and learned professor of nonsense and neurodiversity.

1. Will you Professor Baron-Cohen, care for my profoundly autistic son, who will not be able to live independently, after I die? If you answer that question YES then perhaps I can say yes to your silly question.

2. Will you Professor Baron-Cohen, ensure that my son will no longer bite his hands and wrists in frustration, bang his head against a wall, smash his hands through windows, or grab the steering wheel as the family car proceeds along the highway? If you answer that question YES then perhaps I can say yes to your silly question.

3. Can you Professor Baron-Cohen, ensure that my son, living in institutional care after I am deceased , will be cared for, and loved by other persons, and not abused as was the non-communicative, middle aged autistic woman living in a New York residential "care" facility?

4. Will you good Professor ensure that my son enjoys any of the ordinary pleasures of life that you take for granted day in and day out? A solitary walk in the park without becoming irretrievably lost? A personal, intimate, relationship with another consenting adult?

If you can answer YES to these questions then I may answer YES to your "should we cure autism query" but I know you can not answer these questions in the affirmative good Professor. I know that you are just a misguided academic with a less than firm grip on the realities of families struggling to deal with actual, honest to goodness, Autism Disorder.

I ask you in all seriousness though to put aside your flask of Neurodiversity Kool-Aid and take a swig of Autism Reality Brew. Live with, or at least walk with a family caring for one or more severely autistic children before you ask your next brilliant question at some future gathering of some distinguished learned society.

By the way, I took your on line Autism Quotient test, good Professor. I scored 32 out of 50. Not that I would put much stock on the validity of your Autism Quotient test, or your grasp of Autism Realities.


Maya M said...

I suppose that Prof. Baron-Cohen had some sort of pro-neurodiversity views long before he started his research on autism, as a result of having a sister disabled by severe and irreversible brain damage.
Surely, he doesn't care for her, she lives in an institution where he cannot protect her if she is abused, but I guess that for him the quest to cure a mental disability would imply cancelling his sister.

Unknown said...

Or would it mean enhancing her life by giving her a greater ability to understand and function independently in the world?

Anonymous said...

I understand where the neurodiversity folks are coming from; they want to ensure that those with autism aren't stigmatized by the fact of labelling autism as a "disease". For those high functioning autistics I understand why it would be difficult to accept that they, who have PhDs, hold down regular jobs, and even have meaningful intimate relationships would be considered "diseased". The problem is, the autism spectrum is vast and there are those with ASD who ARE NOT HIGH FUNCTIONING (unlike Michelle Dawson, and others affiliated with neurodiversity). Any parent of a severely affected child with ASD is well aware that autism is IN FACT a neurologic disorder that would be best cured (or at least more adequately treated) rather than merely "accepted" as the way nature made their child. I find the neurodiversity group's insistence that autism is some sort of figment of anal retentive parents' imaginations absolutely infuriating. When the causes and treatments for this very real neurologic disorder is found these people are going to be very embarassed.