Monday, April 28, 2008

Autism As Disability and Disorder - NOT Deviance

Leave it to Estee Klar-Wolfond host of "The Joy of Autism" to get it wrong again. This self appointed expert on autism actually celebrates autism - a disorder which impairs and restricts the lives of many with Autistic Disorder. And her absurd views of autism are reflected in her response to the speech by Reverend Jeremiah Wright to the NAACP.

In my son's case he can not be left unattended at any time. He can not be left to wander to the end of our neighborhood street unaccompanied without risking his life. Yet this person lectures parents like me that we should find joy in our children's disability. I can not hide my lack of respect for her point of view. It is sheer and utter nonsense and I will not pretend otherwise. Whenever I read of an autistic child gone missing, sometimes thankfully returned to safety, sometimes not, I think of this person's perverse ideology which celebrates disability as something joyful. I am not surprised Estee Klar-Wolfond would seize on Rev. Wright's remarks as she has in her comment titled "Difference Is Not Deviance". Here is a big tip for Ms Klar-Wolfond. I know of no single person who accuses autistic people of being deviants. Not one.

Ms Klar-Wolfond takes issue with other parents who describe their children as ill. Like many who subscribe to the Neurodiversity Ideology that worships autism as a culture or way of life Ms Klar-Wolfond takes exception to those who describe autistic disorder as a ... disorder, a disability, or a disease. What Ms Klar-Wolfond and other ND adherents ignore are the hard realities of autistic children, like my son, who can not walk to the end of our neighborhood street alone for fear of serious injury or death. Nor do they talk much about the autistic persons who hurt themselves even causing brain injury or starve themselves. It is easy to see autism as a joy as Ms Klar-Wolfond does when you simply ignore the unpleasant realities lived by some persons with autism and hang out on the internet with some high functioning persons who write great essays and appear before courts and parliamentary bodies.

Here is another little tip for Ms K-W and the rest of the ND ideologues. If someone is called autistic it is because they have received a medical diagnosis that they have one of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders. They would not have acquired such a diagnosis if everything was joy and bliss in their lives. They acquire such diagnoses, most often as children, because of serious language delay and other serious developmental and behavioral problems. Joy? Not at all. Deviance? No, not that either. Autism is a disorder and a disability and it is also called a disease by medical professionals whose opinions were sought by parents in respect of their children.

Ms Klar-Wolfond is "happy to announce" that she is "a new graduate student of Critical Disability Studies at York University". Congratulations to Ms Klar-Wolfond on acquiring entrance to another university degree granting program. Hopefully the learned professors who mentor Ms Klar-Wolfond will understand that race and religion may not be the most apt comparisons for disorders and disabilities. People of different races and religions suffer when people create obstacles and hardships for them because of their differences. Their races and religions impose no restrictions or impairments on their lives.

People with disabilities and disorders suffer when the physical world, genetic and environmental, create obstacles and hardships for them. Their own disorders and disabilities do in fact impose restrictions and impairments on their lives. Therein lie the "differences" between race and religion on the one hand and disability and disorder on the other. Hopefully the professors and mentors at the York University Critical Disabilities graduate studies program understand these distinctions even if Ms Klar-Wolfond does not.

My son is diagnosed as having Autistic Disorder, assessed with profound developmental delays. He has a disorder, a disability. He is not thereby deviant. And it is silly to suggest that anyone in the real world equates autism with deviance.


Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Beg to differ, there HD -- autism is referred to as illness, abnormal, impairment and yes, deviant. Glad to hear that you agree that autistic people are not deviant.

Unknown said...

I have never referred to an autistic person as deviant. Nor have have I ever seen anyone else make that comparison until I read your comment.

Autism is referred to as an impairment. I say it myself because it is true. There is no debate about that when your son can not be left unattended, even to walk the neighborhood street. Even in the front yard.

Judith U. said...

Thank you Harold for continuing to divide the definition of who our kids are and their diagnosis.

My son Jack is an amazing person who has a complex disability called autism. It's not warm and fuzzy by any stretch of the imagination.

Jack is beautiful. His impairments are anything but.

Anonymous said...

What Estee claims she believes is probably very different from what she actually experiences in real life with her child. She'll just never admit that life is anything less than perfect with her disabled child because that would ruin her image, which appears to be her top priority.

Lisa Jo Rudy said...

IMHO, the reason we disagree at all on this issue is that the "autism spectrum" is defined FAR too broadly to make any sense. As a result, we're comparing apples and oranges, and we're surprised when we have different opinions about them.

Of course, a person who is non-verbal, physically ill, self-abusive, and so forth, is profoundly disabled and in pain. And of course, any sane parent would seek a cure for that child's condition.

By the same token, a person who is verbally capable, physically well, engaged in passionate interests, but socially different is NOT profoundly disabled. Parents in this case may have a very different take on the right course to take for that child.

As it happens, my son is closer to the second than to the first description - though he has a PDD-NOS diagnosis. And, while he has no peer buddies, and some frankly idiosyncratic behaviors, he's (touch wood) a healthy, happy, engaged guy with some real talents. As a result, I don't think of HIS autism as a severe impairment.

But that doesn't lessen the truth of Harold's statements relative to HIS son and thousands of other children like Connor.


Lisa (