I'm trying to understand why people spend so much time, effort, and energy attacking my friend, Ari Ne'eman. Ari Ne’eman is a successful, intelligent, articulate, hard-working young adult who is Autistic. He has an Asperger's disorder diagnosis - NO functioning labels attached. Ari and I disagree on specific aspects of treatments, education, and intervention for individuals on the Autism Spectrum to improve his or her quality of life, other issues such as the research agenda, to cure or not cure, and other autism related issues. However, Ari's desire to create positive change that will support, educate, and accommodate individuals with Autism Spectrum disorders is genuine and well intentioned.
However, his detractors are making his agenda VERY difficult and STRESSFUL. They have created a very hostile environment in forums, chat rooms, list serves, and other online public places. These detractors use abusive language, threats including death, profanity, and other creative, disrespectful means to get their point across. Does the Autism Spectrum (Autistic) community need this? The obvious answer is “No.” However, some individuals specifically target certain individuals they presume as “dangerous.”
I am a strong supporter of respectful language. Terminology or phrases such as: disease, brain damage or dead, train wreck, dysfunctional, broken, not fully human or there, emotionless, vegetable, and other similar descriptions are not only offensive but also NOT accurate words to describe people with Autism Spectrum disorders. Autism forums, chat rooms, and similar places online are created for parents of children and adults with various Autism disorder diagnoses for support, suggestions, and similar reasons. Autism online places have been created for everyone - parents, adults on the Autism Spectrum, educators, friends, scientists, medical professionals, and other people in the Autism or Autistic community.
I do NOT have the right to speak on behalf of other people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. For example, I cannot tell Harold Doherty, a parent of an adolescent with an Autistic Disorder diagnosis, assessed with profound developmental delays, to stop supporting research for a cure. People who converse online in forums, chat rooms, et cetera are NOT qualified to diagnose anyone on the Autism Spectrum. Without certification in an educational background such as: Psychology, special education, or other related field, people are NOT qualified to even suspect neurological disabilities.
All people with Autism Spectrum disorder diagnoses are Autistic. That is NOT debatable. For example, Scott Robertson, John Elder-Robison, and Katie Miller have Asperger’s Disorder diagnoses (NO functioning labels attached). They are Autistic. Dora Raymaker, Michelle Dawson, Amanda Baggs, and Alex Bain have Autistic Disorder diagnoses (NO functioning labels attached). They are Autistic.
I have an Asperger’s Disorder diagnosis (NO functioning labels attached). I am Autistic. However, I do not smear feces. I have been mildly self-injurious before. I am not aggressive. I can read, write (with MAJOR exceptions), and type. I CANNOT write a lot neatly due to motor control, low muscle tone, and grip issues. In a literal sense, I am able to speak. I will not describe my challenges with speech production - mild Apraxia, stuttering, and related issues here. I will not detail my significant speech delays and difficulties during childhood here.
As adult Autistic, I can only speak for MYSELF. If a cure will be found in my lifetime, I would NOT take it. I (emphasize Katie) do not want to be cured. I have learned to accept and embrace (still working on) my Autism Disorder. I do not have a strong emotional viewpoint on being Autistic. I neither hate nor love my Autism. I do NOT celebrate the disabling traits of my Autism Spectrum diagnosis. I celebrate my talents, abilities, and strengths. I celebrate my hyperlexia that includes ability to read extremely rapidly, above grade level, and decipher most vocabulary from contextual clues. In addition, I celebrate my positive traits related to my personality, Autism Spectrum diagnosis, and other positive traits.