Sunday, April 4, 2010

Response to Comment on Neurodiversity as Defense Mechanism?

Ginger Taylor commented to say:


So refreshing to see this perspective coming from someone with ASD. It is something that I have considered, but frankly, don't write about as I worry that it will come across as condescending and insulting to adults with autism who identify themselves as ND. But as it is a condition that results in impaired perception, might not the opinion that the dangers of autism are overblown and that is is an alternate cognition also be a result of impaired perception of the true realities?

I spent some time arguing with ND's on the Huffington Post this week, trying to get across the point that functioning level has absolutely ZERO to do with the value of a human being. One ASD/ND woman argued that she was her autism and hating autism was hating her. I argued that autism was a result of an organ dysfunction, that she was a soul whose brain was not serving her as well as it could, and that she was not her cognition any more than she was her sense of smell.

She just wasn't seeing it. Or chose not to.

This quote:

"I have long described myself as a whole soul imprisoned in a broken body."

...much more succinctly encapsulates the verbose argument I was trying to make. Thank you.

And it is truly a statement that is true of all of us. Our bodies are all broken in different ways, and all of us have brains that distort the truth in life in some way.

You are wise to see that an embrace it in the midst of this discussion about the value of people with autism.

As today is Easter, I will direct you to a series I wrote called Autism in God's Economy that speaks to the value of those with autism, and the fact that it has nothing to do with their functioning level. It is in the second installment. This is the link to the first:

I think that the causation issue is also something that should be completely dissociated with the value of those with autism. It doesn't matter if it is caused by genes or vaccines or medications or mercury or sharks with frickin' laser beams on their heads. People with autism are valuable. Period.

I have a sense that if these principles were embraced by those with autism, then defense mechanisms would fall away because they would realize that there is absolute nothing to defend!

People with autism have value because they are people, and people have value. And people are valuable regardless of what they can do. So what is there to defend? There is no need to justify ones self or talk people into seeing them as valuable for what they can do that is special.

I feel like those in the ND movement have fallen into a big trap of self-justification where none is needed.


Half truths are a dangerous things and you proffer one here. The truth is autists are as diverse in cognitive functioning as neurotypicals, who range from mental retardation to sheer genius. What is unique about autism is that genious can be shrouded in a cloak of retardation appearance wise. It is why Bill suggests to always presume intelligence despite outward appearances. One's cognition is only as good as sensory reality presents. Living in a funhouse of perceptual horrors would frighten even the most astute mind. To say it is my brain serving me less optimally that it could is a fair statement of sorts, so long as one understands it is the sensory component not the intellect perse that is dysfunctional.
The mind as soul is an interesting concept. Its separation is not understood by experts let along laymen. How you perceive it is your own truth. We each have value just as we are, NT and AS both. In that we both agree.
Do you celebrate your gifts and talents as gifts from God? If the answer is yes, why do you resent an ASND from doing the same. AS holds many secret gifts if one but looks for them. While they are unimportant side effects, they are nonetheless gifts. The ASND that does not see the value in a naked soul, may see it in his/her gifts. I do not know about you, but I will take anything that helps, self-love over self-hate. If the world did not revile the autist then I might agree with you about needing no defense. But our personhood is attacked as alterable from the moment of our identification at autistic. Instead of developing autists to their full potential as autistic people, society seeks to erase all trace of autistic character. To the extent we process differently, neurotypical learning techniques are misplaced with us. How much more easily could I have succeeded if someone early on worked to the special needs of my system in teaching me. You would not like being taught in Spanish if your only language was Chinese. I would argue that the impaired reality you refer to would be far less perceptible if you (as teacher) at least had a rudimentary understanding of Chinese at start of the process. From here to there is a matter of start point.
Thank you for your valuing me for my soul alone though. It is a bridge that bypasses the perceived need for genocide physical of the unborn anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment