Monday, December 26, 2011

Autism Fluffy and Lite With Amy Harmon and The New York Times

Amy Harmon and the New York Times like their autism fluffy and lite, 
none of that yucky severe autistic disorder stuff 

You wouldn't know it from reading NY Times columnist Amy Harmon, or from reading the NYT generally, but 70% of persons with Autistic Disorder suffer from intellectual disability. Approximately 30% of persons with Autistic disorder also suffer from epilepsy.  There are regular reports, in non NYT papers anyways, about autistic children and adults going missing, sometimes never to safely return. Self injury is a serious problem for many. For many others lives spent in institutional care is the reality they endure or face in the near future.  As an autism advocate in New Brunswick Canada I have seen these realities for myself.  But I am not a columnist for the New York Times which has never had a good record on dealing straight up and honestly with autism disorders.  

As with the current series run by Amy Harmon (1, 2) the New York Times prefers to report on and portray autism as high functioning autism and Aspergers. They prefer stories about autistic artists and John Elder Robison's son Jack and his difficulties with personal intimacy, difficulties faced by most adolescents, whether they are autistic, or whether they are neurotypical, to use the Neurodiversity terminology that dominates NYT autism articles.  

Amy Harmon and the NYT discriminate by omission against the original, severely autistic "autistics". They like their autism sweet, fluffy and lite.  No severe autism reality at the NYT thank you.


Bullet said...

Would you honestly say that Justin in link 2, at the age of 20, comes across as nigh on typical? Because I wouldn't. He seems a lot younger than his actual age, for a start.

Cameron said...

You gotta be kidding me.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. My son is non verbal, has self injurious behavior, PICA, ADHD and severe intellectual disability. He is very destructive He's not just "different" or slightly affected, as in being younger than his age by a few years. I have yet to read anything about this type of autism in the NYT. From my perspective consisting of what I have read and people I have known or talked to, autism like my childs is extremely rare and should not be talked about because it makes light fluffy autism seem just that. People have gone as far as telling me my child doesn't have autism, but may have a different DX unknown to Dr's. LOL