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neurodiversity: We don't want to change but we want your Tax $$$

Posted Apr 09 2009 7:16pm
The neurodiversity movement has consistently voiced their opposition to a cure for autism. One of the arguments that adults with autism or the parents of autistic children who believe in neurodiversity can make is that it is none of my business or anyone else's if they don't want to accept a cure. Or even though (and I concede the point) it is improbable a cure will be found in our lifetime, that anyone should want to change them or wish a desire to change them. Or an organization like autism speaks would just be a front for coming up for a way to find a test in order to deliberately abort autistic fetuses. Autism speaks is not really interested in funding work not related to finding a way to abort autistic fetuses such as the work of people like Jaime Pineda or Lindsay Oberman to study neurofeedback or mu wave suppression, that is only a front to cover up their desire and "ultimate goal" (ABFH's words) to find a way to abort those fetuses. They can argue "It is our own body, it is our children's body it is our own life, our their lives what right do you have to tell us we need to change ourselves or our children?"

The problem with this logic is they are affecting other people. They are not only affecting autistic people, such as myself, who wish for a cure for autism or parents of autistic children who would like to change their children by curing them if possible, they are also affecting persons who are not autistic nor have autistic family members. How can that be? you ask. Well the answer is in tax dollars for autism services. No one can deny that autism imposes a heavy burden on the taxpayers, though this is something that the neurodiversity people do not like hearing, but it is an indisputable fact.

Most germane of all, these examples apply to some of the proponents of the ND movement. One of the most well known examples of this is Amanda Baggs who has constantly advocated for neurodiversity, saying she does not wish a cure for her condition. Yet Ms. Baggs feels it is just fine to ask the taxpayers to subsidize her SSI checks and the section 8 public housing she receives in a subsidized apartment in Burlington, Vermont. Also, one must remember Frank Klein, whose website has been taken down. Klein would promote the idea that Einstein was autistic and claim that autism equaled genius and greatness. Yet he himself was not enough of a genius to be capable of maintaining any substantial and gainful employment and was living (and probably still is) on the dole.

Another example, besides SSI and section 8 housing is adult medicaid waivers for autistic persons. Ari Neeman, president of autism self-advocacy Network, has become a very public figure in the autism self-advocacy movement in this past year. He has preached that autistics should not be cured, yet this involvement of his organization and obtaining these medicaid waivers for autistic people is one accomplishment he seems proud of. Never mind the cost to the taxpayers. When asked what should be done about autistic people who can't speak, self-mutilate themselves, smear feces on walls, etc, Neeman responded with the copout, being anti-cure does not mean being anti-progress.

One of the most costly programs for autistic children is the IDEA which guarantees "a free and appropriate education" at taxpayer expense. We see that one parent of a moderate to severely autistic child, Kristina Chew has given this program a shout out. When the law was first enacted the federal government made a provision that they would pay a maximum of 40% of the costs to the local school districts. They have never paid nearly this amount. Ms. Chew states that she advocates the full 40% funding in the article to which I have linked. This would involve billions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Yet, Ms. Chew appeared on national television stating that she had no desire to change her autistic child. I remember reading that she drugs her son with dangerous anti-psychotic medications but still does not want to change him and feels that the taxpayers should pick up the tab at the cost of billions to society for the IDEA.

The neurodiversity movement might argue in response to this, that because of societal attitudes and prejudice these taxpayers subsidies are necessary. That they would not be necessary if society would change and autistics could function at a level that would not require them to need excess tax supports. However, what is society to do about the nontalking, self-injurious behavior, meltdowns, lack of social relationships, motor coordination problems, and impaired ability to concentrate and to engage in goal related activity due to problems in executive functioning. These have nothing to do with society. The only thing they can come up with is Nee'man's copout. This was their response to millions of television viewers.

So, I say, this is not moral this is not right. I do not believe that Baggs, Klein, Ne'eman and Chew have a right to these attitudes and to pontificate them while advocating, and in the case of the medicare waivers, bringing about, taxpayer provided services for people for being on the spectrum. They are certainly hurting others with this attitude. Persons who subsidize these programs certainly have a right to say they want cures for autism to be found. I believe if these people really practice what they preach, they should stop asking for government handouts.
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