Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Three generations of morons is sufficient"

The above quote is from a Supreme Court Opinion, 88 years ago, regarding the involuntary sterilization of people with developmental disabilities. How much better are things today? "Autism Steals." "Autism Leaves an Empty Shell." "Autism is No Hope, No Future."

This video was put together by Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Dan Marino Foundation, and Kent Creative. It was written and performed by individuals on the autism spectrum.




Have a few more minutes? Wonder what situation is behind this that would make these people think that a PSA is needed to advocate for basic human rights? aka: the inherent worth and dignity of all persons?

Ari Ne'eman is the President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. He refers to himself as an Asperger's Autistic, is the narrator of the above PSA, and speaks to this question in a Keynote address to ASAN in this video. It is housed at the Dan Marino's Childnett.tv and outlines the challenges and dangers that face people on the autism spectrum by well-meaning people under the names of "education" and "treatment."

If you choose not to watch the above video, let me simply tell you that the quotes above were taken from real live "autism advocates" --- that is, people who are not autistic who want to cure autism because "This is the special curse of autism. You have your child, and yet you don’t have him. You have a shell, a ghost of all the dreams and hopes you ever had." (from Autism Research: A Legacy of Neglect, an Opportunity for New Discovery by Jonathan Shestack, co-founder and president of Cure Autism Now.)

While there are no easy answers, and human life is infinitely complicated, I cannot help but think that people with autism ought be in the middle of the discussion, not the periphery. It seems that the philosophical difference between autism as illness and autism as natural neurological diversity is a pretty great distance. It seems that the difference between "curing" something and helping them live the best life they can, maximizing their skills and learning to live with the challenges is pretty great distance.

After all, we don't still try to cure glbt folk, do we?

1 comment:

shestack said...

Hey thanks for finding that old article. I had misplaced it. But I still agree with it. My son Dov who just turned
17 hates autism. He would be happy to be able to get dressed himself, speak and not have manic episodes that last for days or uncontrollable impulses to drink water or play with a thread when he would rather be hanging out with his family.

How to I know? He has told me so. Many times. Painstakingly, in writing, where a simple phrase may take an hour to write. So thanks for your one size fits all sanctimony, but until someone invents
telepathy, Dov would prefer a cure for autism.

Jon shestack