Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back to 'Reality'

It is Sunday evening, and the clock is ticking on what turned out to be a very heady week. Between one radio interview, one television interview, one interview for a documentary in progress, three presentations, and a panel discussion, this week turned out to be steeped in engaged and fascinating discussion and action. And now, after a weekend of hanging out with my boys, picking fresh fruit from the orchard, swimming, taking the dogs for long walks, blogging as a means of processing all that happened this week, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. I also feel encouraged by the response our actions garnered this week in the worldwide autism community - both online and in the live local community. I am encouraged by the communication I am having with other Hub bloggers who would like to see similar events take place in their locales.

But, as so often happens in life, I soon came across something that reminded me that there is a lot of work left to be done.
Harold Doherty is the father of an autistic boy named Connor. Anyone who has read Mr. Doherty's blog will recognize Connor as the vibrant, tall, active young guy in many photos and videos. Mr. Doherty is an involved, doting, loving father as is plain for anyone to see. He also is a hard-working advocate for autism services - in particular, Applied Behavioral Analysis - in Eastern Canada.
So what, then, would motivate Mr. Doherty to write the kind of offensive, utterly pointless blog post that appeared on Facing Autism In New Brunswick today?
In the post, he first takes some potshots at Dr. Roy Richard Grinker and Dr. Kristina Chew ("some professors of cultural anthropology and classical literature") by virtue of assigning to them a position that neither has taken. Mr. Doherty claims that they
"...believe ...[that]... there are no environmental causes of autism and there is no autism epidemic. ALL of the dramatic increases in the numbers of autistic children and adults are due ENTIRELY to the definition changes in the DSM and to diagnostic substitution."
This statement is patently and verifiably false. But not only does Mr. Doherty create a false position for Dr. Grinker and Dr. Chew, he also fails to even provide a decent summary of the evidence-based reasoning that they and so many others have used to determine that any comparison of today's autism prevalence figures to those in the not-too-distant past would be flawed and mostly useless. Even more egregious is Mr. Doherty's failure to point out why people such as Dr. Chew and Dr. Grinker - themselves parents of autistic children - choose to eschew terminology such as "epidemic". I can't speak for them, but I suspect it may be that they understand this type of rhetoric to be harmful to autistic people.

Having established in the first paragraph that this particular blog post will be yet another "hit piece" against 'neurodiversity' and anyone associated with it, Mr. Doherty goes on to underwhelm us with yet more evidence of his slippery slope into autism quackery. Let's select a few words he uses in his effort to convince the reader that epidemic-panic is justifiable:
"mercury", "lead", "pesticides", "exposed", "increasingly toxic bath", "triggers".
To state this another way, Mr. Doherty must convince you that there is an autism epidemic in order for you to buy his premise that an elusive "trigger" is causing all of this destruction. And, to establish this premise, he uses an ad hominem attack against people who disagree with him.

Dr. Grinker has applied his accumulated knowledge of autism study in numerous cultures and within a historical context as a means to help us understand some of the more vague and subtle factors that may be influencing prevalence figures. Mr. Doherty dismisses this body of evidence with the angry stroke of a key. Dr. Chew performs perhaps the most complete and thorough review to be found in the world today of day-to-day developments in autism media, research, and real life communities. Mr. Doherty huffs and puffs as a means of discrediting her careful, thoughtful commentary. Both Dr. Grinker and Dr. Chew are parents of autistic children, and have been so for longer than Mr. Doherty. Both have chosen to emphasize their child's strengths over deficits, and this is where they and Mr. Doherty diverge. That is where many of us and Mr. Doherty diverge.

Mr. Doherty goes on to summarize his rant by citing his pet term, the "Autism Knowledge Revolution". And yet he offers us no new knowledge, not even any original thought on the "epidemic". Perhaps he really means the "Autism Bluster Revolution", a battle front which he has engaged for quite some time now.

What amazes me sometimes, and was one reason for writing this post, is the ongoing spite in the autism community online. I was first "singled out" by Mr. Doherty one year ago, after I attended and blogged about my first University of San Diego conference. At that time, I was attacked for discussing the difference between "deficit model" and "dynamic systems model". I still recall being stunned by someone taking a negative view of what I considered to be a very appropriate and complex approach to understanding and supporting autistic people - especially those who have serious communication impairments. (Link -read the comments) Now it is a year later, and nothing has changed.

I also realize that I, and the Autism Hub in general, probably gained more than a few readers due to the exposure that was generated last week. It is important that people understand the range of mentalities that exist in relation to understanding autism, and people such as Mr. Doherty clearly approach the whole thing from an entirely different angle than I do.

So I will make the same offer again that I have numerous times in the past - to have Mr. Doherty engage in a calm, respectful discussion on any of the various points of disagreement. I'm not expecting a different result, but the offer is there for the taking, as always.

Aside from that, my return to "Reality" has been as discomforting as it has been ... expected.


Ms. Clark said...

Thank you, Steve D. I would like to make a small suggestion, just because I am pedantic...maybe you could replace "Mrs. Chew" with "Dr. Chew" or "Professor Chew."

I know that Kristina has invited people to call her by her first name, still, I think it would be good to address her formally, in this case, just because of the tone of dismissal that Doherty has taken.

Some times I get hung up on titles, so forgive me if I sound too bossy.

Harold is just beyond anything I could add. His "reality" is not about "knowledge" and all about "bluster" as you pointed out so politely.

My feeling is that if Michelle Dawson and Estee Klaar-Wolfond and the "ND" were anti-vaccine and pro-biomuddled experimentation on kids, then Harold would be 100% for all vaccines and against all "biomed".

littlebobleep said...

I encourage everyone to listen to the radio interview you linked in your second sentence. It's great to hear the Hub explained and explored in a positive, mainstream medium such as NPR. Happy families such as ours thank you for all of your efforts, Steve.

Alyric said...

I used to think that Doherty's tactic of assigning beliefs that the attacked person doesn't actually hold was a lawyerly gambit. Nope, here's Jonathon ( I want somebody to destroy and/or prevent me) Mitchell:

"Mike I thought you were a special education teacher I did not know you were an autism researcher, so you would not be my enemy, only people who try to get money from charitable organizations when they do everything they can to undermine the organizations intentions as do Michelle Dawson, Morton Gernsbacher and other anti-cure people who either are employed by labs who accept money from autism speaks, an organization plainly detected to curing and preventing autism."

You get this absolutely crude brutish caricature of a position. It's a shocker because of the breadth of the mismatch between what the person believes and what a Doherty or Mitchell says about them. Several steps beyond ad hominem, I'd say. What does this say about a person that they could begin to portray Dr Chew or Grinkler or Dawson or Gernsbacher in this way? Has Doherty or Mitchell ever read what they've written? Perhaps not because you need a certain kind of ignorance and perhaps a tendency towards lowness to be capable of it. I think of all the basic sanity, the humour the humanness of Kristina's blog and then there's Doherty. I think of "Reciprocity" and the basic perspicacity and humanness of Gernsbacher in being able to put those thoughts on paper for the rest of us to be enthralled by and then there's Mitchell.

Alyric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve D said...

@ Ms. Clark -
I agree completely, and have made the changes. I was unsure at the time of writing if Dr. Chew did, indeed, hold a Doctorate degree.

@ LBP -
Thanks for the nice compliment :)

@ Alyric -
I have often been left wondering about the assignation of beliefs as well.
Example - Mr. Doherty often claims that "ND" don't believe autism is a disability, and then he goes on to remind us how disabling it is to Connor. And yet just last week 2 Hub bloggers told 10's of thousands of people that we feel autism has many disabling aspects. Go figure.

jypsy said...

We really enjoyed your interview (linked above) and everyone's reports since. I'm quite green with envy that I couldn't be there to hang out with y'all and take it all in. Alex was thrilled to hear you mention him and his blog. Please allow me though to set the record straight on a couple of your points (being a stickler for accuracy and all....). These are just silly little points and take nothing away from what you said...

1) Alex is 20, he'll be 21 in December.

2) I used to keep a web page of his races & runs however, it seemed more reasonable to use a blog rather than my personal webspace to do it and so in March 2007 I switched to blogging and at that point I encouraged Alex to do the write-up rather than myself. I add the pictures and links to his writing and format it (he doesn't separate each sentence, I do that so his few words carry down farther on the page along the photos). I also add the media stories and write the odd post myself. Every post has Alex's or my name on it. Although I could encourage him to edit it to correct his grammar, his pronoun reversal, and occasionally his spelling, I don't. I leave it in his raw form. He speaks very much like he writes as far as sentence structure goes. He can edit it to be proper form (he did after all take academic English in High School) but that is not natural for him and I'd rather he enjoyed blogging in his natural language rather than bugging him to conform to proper form. (His written language is still much more universally understandable than his spoken language.)

3) Technically, Alex is not a "Marathoner" (yet), he's a distance runner. His longest race to date is 25Km. He just set a new Personal Best in the Half-Marathon on the weekend. Currently he is training to run his first Full Marathon, The PEI Marathon here in October. Then he can be called a "Marathon Runner".

Thanx again and thanx for this post. This is a topic that saddens me as it seems so totally unnecessary - there are enough beliefs we (individually and as a group) likely disagree on and could discuss. Assigning beliefs we (individually and as a group) don't have and then attacking us for it is frustrating (at the very least). At least to folks like me who are sticklers for truth and accuracy.

jypsy said...

And correcting my own mistake.... here's the correct link to Saturday's PB Half-Marathon

jonathan said...

Hi Steve, before you extend the invitation to Mr. Doherty to not engage in ad hominem attacks, perhaps all of the neurodiversity people could put their own house in order first. After all Jesus was quoted in the bible as saying "Before you take the speck out of your neighbors eye, take the log out of your own eye" Also remember the saying, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" Alyric's absolutely juvenile character assasination of me in the comments section of this blog proves my point. Why aren't you deleting her ad hominem attack on me if you expect Mr. Doherty to respond in kind? Seems to me far more ad hominem attacks come from neurodiversity people than from anyone else on earth. Something to think about.

jonathan said...

Hi Alyric, I thought I would make an attempt to be civil to you and perhaps you could try to do that yourself so I will answer one of your questions. Yes, I read Roy Grinker's book, I enjoyed it and I thought it made a lot of excellent points. Yes, I have read Michelle Dawson's TMOB essay and while I agree with some of what it says, I utterly disagree with others and think she is mistaken about somone wanting a cure for autism being an intolerant bigot.

I have read Morton Gernsbacher's essay Autistics need acceptance and not cure. A load of crap to put it politely, so yeah, I have read all of those things. Have you read Josh Greenfeld's book A child called Noah, showing how serious a problem autism can be in someone severely autistic and all the pain and misery it causes their families. I suspect not. Maybe it is you who is not reading everything and not seeing all sides to this story.

Steve D said...

@ Jypsy -
Thanks for the clarification on those points. And I'm glad you and Alex enjoyed hearing us on the radio. I'm a big supporter!

@ Jonathan -
Perhaps you could agree or disagree with the premise of my post. Your speculation that "ND" offer more ad hom attacks than others is noted, but I'll have to disagree at this time.
Please note that the first time I had ever encountered Mr. Doherty was the post I linked to in which he attacked me and the folks at USD for talking about the "deficit model".
Nor have I asked, ask you intimate, that Mr. Doherty delete his post. I respect yours and his and everyone else's right to speak their mind. I also reserve the right to speak my own, and in this case I feel the need to expose Mr. Doherty's bluster for what it is as a matter of defending people whom I respect and a worldview which I support.

jonathan said...

Hi Steve, I read mr. Doherty's recent post, the post in which he singles you out and re-read alyric's post.

I don't see anything in Mr. Doherty's posts that are the least bit offensive. I don't know if he is mischaracterizing Grinker's and Chew's positions or not but all he seems to be saying is that more research is needed to determine whether or not there has been an increase in autism prevalence due to environment.

In the other post all he is saying is that he does not agree with you and the rest of the neurodiversity people who don't believe that autism is a disorder but a difference and he is saying he believes it is a disorder. The only reason he named you and singled you at as you put it i would think that it is because you were the hub conference organizer.

I realize that offense is in the eye of the beholder, but it seems you are a bit too sensitive. Just like you seemed to think that Lisa was linking my essay in her sig line just to be divisive intentionally. I think you may be confused about some things.

Cleary Alyric's implying that I am crude and brutish and that I am a low person just because I don't believe that an organization who raises money with the intent of finding a cure for autism should be providing funding for people who don't want a cure for autism.

Clearly this is a personal attack and if you stand by what you say, alyric's post should be deleted.

I don't see anywhere in either of the posts where mr. doherty attacked you personally in any way, though I realize individual perceptions can differ. vicious attacks from people in the neurodiversity movement which you are a part of seem rampant to me. This is not to say that you as an individual are instigating these attacks, but there is an old saying about judging people by the company they keep, something to think about.

Michelle Dawson said...

For the record, the quote from TMoB Mr Mitchell refers to is:


A recent New Yorker article shows how it's done. It describes in depth one family's recent legal and logistical struggles to get ABA for their two autistic children. A purely behaviourist view of autism, adopted early by both the parents and the journalist, pervades this article. Dr Lovaas' autism work is described with uncritical reverence. The parents are poignantly described through their ordeals and suffering, their despair and determination. Their young non-autistic daughter is easily recognizable as a human being with character, needs, and rights. The two autistic children are either complying with their ABA program, or perceived, described, and treated as oblivious, insensate, monstrous collections of purposeless and repugnant behaviours. Neither the journalist nor the parents nor the behaviourist experts offer any other possibility.

In this context, the non-autistic daughter has a crisis. She is terrified she will "catch" autism. Immediately, she is whisked to a psychiatrist who exerts his expertise in reassuring her that autism cannot be caught. He in effect reassures her that she will never, ever be anything at all like her autistic brother or autistic sister. She then writes a letter to this psychiatrist begging him to "hurry up and cure autism before the sun goes down", demonstrating that while autism is not a contagion, intolerance is.


TMoB comes with notes, sources and references, which can be used to verify what I report in the text. A quick search of TMoB reveals no instance of the word "bigot."

But I have used this word (I'll leave Mr Mitchell to find it). I often look up words before using them in writing, so here's one definition of "bigot":

"One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ."

And here's another one:

"A bigot is a person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his own."

Autism Reality NB said...


Thank you for you fair and accurate reading of my comments about autism, environmental triggers and the current autism epidemic.

I did not make any ad hominem attacks on Ms Chew or Mr.Grinker. I did, obviously, question their expertise and source of knowledge for their positions. And I stand by my characterizations of their positions. Either of them are free to visit my blog and indicate what, if aything I might have gotten wrong.

Unfortunately neither Steve D, nor any of the neurodiversity bloggers who have commented here addresssed the substance of what I said preferring instead to engage in .... ad hominem attacks on me. But they may feel free to continue. Such attacks are of no weight or value.

For anyone, other than Autism Hub members, who might visit this sight they should be aware that many of the scientists and researchers involved with examining
the causes of autism disorders today recognize the likelihood of environmental triggers or contributors to the onset and development of pdd's. That being so, it is premature to attribute the startling increases in autism incidence to diagnostic definition change,diagnostic substitution and increased autism awareness.

Have a good day everyone.

Steve D said...

Mr. Doherty:
You said
"I did not make any ad hominem attacks on Ms Chew or Mr.Grinker. I did, obviously, question their expertise and source of knowledge for their positions. And I stand by my characterizations of their positions."
You leave me confused. You claim you did not make any Ad Hom attacks on either person. Did you not say this in your blog entry:
"We can all rest easy now that the rumor of an autism epidemic has been thoroughly discredited by these uh .... giants of science."
I read that as a sarcastic statement, but perhaps I was mistaken. I read that as an attempt to belittle their understanding of autism science and the years of hard work that went into developing that understanding. Am I wrong?

You went on to say:
"...we are in the midst of an Autism Knowledge Revolution in which science, not the ancient Greeks, or superficial and irrelevant cultural comparisons,..."
Again, is this not stated with sarcasm? Perhaps you could clarify the intent with which you wrote this, if indeed that intent was NOT to belittle those with whom you disagree.
Further, perhaps you could argue why cross-cultural comparisons are irrelevant in any discussion of autism.

Better yet, perhaps you could speak to why you feel their positions are mistaken as opposed to attacking their personal ability to formulate sound opinions (otherwise known as an ad hominem attack). Even before that, perhaps you could provide one iota of evidence that the position you have assigned to them is accurate in any way. There is plenty of written record to consider from both - I'm sure if the statements exist you could very easily produce them, Mr. Doherty.

Back to your comment:
"Either of them are free to visit my blog and indicate what, if aything I might have gotten wrong."
Coming from the author of the most-censored blog in the autism community, that offer is laughable.

"Unfortunately neither Steve D, nor any of the neurodiversity bloggers who have commented here addresssed the substance of what I said preferring instead to engage in .... ad hominem attacks on me. But they may feel free to continue. Such attacks are of no weight or value."
Exactly what "substance" did you offer? What I saw was an angry man attacking a strawman position. You provide an excerpt from two studies discussing the potential role of environmental factors in autism etiology. Is this news, Mr. Doherty? Has either person you singled out disputed the existence of an environmental factor in autism etiology?

Steve D said...

Jonathan -
I must say that we remain in disagreement.
You don't see anything in Mr. Doherty's posts that are offensive. Please read the comment I just made to him for a clarification of what is offensive.
In his post directed at me, it was a similar combination of sarcasm, assumption of stupidity, and assigning of false positions that caused offense. He knows exactly what he is doing with his snide tone and condescending attitude.
Also, you are mistaken on the timeline a bit. Mr. Doherty wrote his post directed at me last year. At that time, there was no Hub presentation - I was simply an attendee.
I'd like to comment on something else you said:
"In the other post all he is saying is that he does not agree with you and the rest of the neurodiversity people who don't believe that autism is a disorder but a difference and he is saying he believes it is a disorder."
If you listen to the link to the radio program I was involved in last week, you will note that I proclaimed that Autism is a disability to tens of thousands of listeners. Your premise is incorrect. I don't know how else to make you understand that. I encourage you to stop using that strawman argument, as it holds no water.
And please do judge me based on the company I keep, as I remain proud to consider them my friends. Jonathan, we spent a total of 8 hours presenting at the recent conference in various formats, and not once did we attack others' positions. What we did was stress presumption of competence, stress the need to use respectful language, stress that autistic people have every bit as much desire to be and feel loved and valued as NT's, stress that individual supports derived from appropriate and ethical scientific methodology are what can truly benefit autistic people. That's the message, at least from my perspective.

Steve D said...

Michelle, thank you for your clarification on that.
The dynamics occurring in that family, the stripping of humanity from the autistic children, is one thing I feel is worth speaking out against.

Alyric said...

I'll second that:

"What we did was stress presumption of competence, stress the need to use respectful language, stress that autistic people have every bit as much desire to be and feel loved and valued as NT's, stress that individual supports derived from appropriate and ethical scientific methodology are what can truly benefit autistic people. That's the message, at least from my perspective."

jonathan said...

Hi steve i listened to the radio show and you said autism was a disability, not a disorder. Mike Stanton, Joseph and others seem to believe disability and disorder mean two different things, they believe autism is a disability but not a disorder. I said disorder not disability. I do not know if you believe autism is a disorder or not. If you do, I am unaware of it and have never seen you say that.

Though I don't quote michelle dawson verbatim, such a quote does not seem necessary. She implies wanting to cure autism means intolerance, so even if she did not use the word bigot in her essay, the defintion she provides of bigot fits her description of persons who want a cure for autism to a tee

Steve D said...

Jonathan -
Autism constitutes a spectrum of disorders, and includes many disabling aspects.
Some autistic people have more challenges than others resulting from their autism. The type and range of challenges is not easily predictable by assigning functioning labels.
Autistics are people, and as such deserve the acceptance, respect, individualized support, presumption of competence, and protection from unethical practices that non-autistic people deserve.

That is my position, in the briefest possible format.

jypsy said...

"Though I don't quote michelle dawson verbatim"

Or Jesus it seems. I always thought a "quote", especially when it is called a "quote" and uses "" quotation marks, was verbatim, not a paraphrase. That may well be an incorrect assumption as the meanings I can find aren't clear. (FYI - my quotes are all verbatim)

jonathan said...

Oh my dear ms. Norman Baine, you never seem to want to miss an opportunity to beat up on me in cyberspace because you find any autistic who wants to be cured and believes neurodiversity is invalid so repugnant. Show me where I put anything in this comment section that michelle said in quotation marks. I put the quotes from the bible in the quotation marks about casting the first stone and the speck and the log. Not sure I got them exactly verbatim but i think it is very close. I did not attribute any direct quotes to michelle in this comment section on this post and you know it.

Again it saddens me that a middle aged women with four children has so much growing up to do.

jypsy said...

*my* comment was ALL about your Biblical "quote".

My only mention of Michelle was in quoting your words as a soliloquy to my own comment.

As I noted, I could be very wrong in equating "quotes" to "verbatim". It never occurred to me before that a "quote" could in fact be a paraphrase. I'm still not clear on the true meaning of "quotation", hoping someone more learned than I can set me straight.

jonathan said...

I really don't know what relevance your post has or your response to my response to any of the issues we are discussing in this comment section. Jypsy, I think in the future if you want to discuss something you should stick to the issues and not irrelevant red herrings.

jypsy said...

I am trying to understand the English language as well as your use of it. It will only help in understanding our communication. I have learned already that when you say "quote" you don't mean verbatim. I do. Now I'm curious to know what others mean and what the definition is so that when they "quote" someone or something I'll know whether it is verbatim or a paraphrase. Maybe the difference isn't important to you but it is to me.

Very often people interpret my words as something other than what I've actually said and meant. I think that ties into this topic, especially when it comes to "assigning to them a position that neither has taken." If someone calls their paraphrased interpretation of something I've said a "quote" I'd be unhappy - but it seems possible that they would be correct in the use of the word.

To my mind this is far more on-topic than my first comment here. Sorry that my efforts to learn are bothering you. Steve will let me know if I'm out of line or too far off topic (and might even offer up his own meaning when using the word ;) )

Do'C said...

That being so, it is premature to attribute the startling increases in autism incidence to diagnostic definition change,diagnostic substitution and increased autism awareness.

Evidence of the "startling increases in autism incidence" Harold?

It's a very simple request. Please respond with science.

Chuck said...

How can anyone respond with "Science" when it took the scientists [insert incredibly stupid amount of time here] to admit that changing the criteria changed the rate of newly diagnosed.

Anne said...

Steve, when Harold argues that environmental exposures either cause autism or are completely harmless, I conclude that a rational discussion is not in the cards.

Ms. Clark, it made me smile when Harold came by in the comments and referred to "Ms Chew" and "Mr. Grinker" after you made your comment. Some J.D.'s (or LLB's in Harold's case) resent the fact that Ph.D.'s are addressed as "Dr." but lawyers generally are not. (See Maher," Lawyers Are Doctors, Too," 92 ABAJ 24 (2006).) I think it's funny when a lawyer refuses to address a Ph.D. as "Dr." I have had a Juris Doctor degree for 25 years, but so far, they just call me late for dinner.

Of course, some lawyers really are doctors, too, like Anthony Casamassima, M.D., J.D., who filed a lawsuit against his clients' doctors for causing their child's ASD by allegedly failing to diagnose intrauterine growth restriction (Schectman v. Wilson, et al.) and also tried to help them get gender selection services to avoid having another autistic child. But I digress.

mike stanton said...

I see that a comment of mine about disability and disorder has been misstated here. In answer to a question from Jonathon I wrote

"Dyslexia is a disorder. But in a world where illiteracy is commonplace it is not disabling to be dyslexic. That is how I see it. A disorder is something pertaining to the individual. Disability pertains to a person's ability to meet society's demands and expectations."

I happen to think that autism can be both a disorder and a disability. I know that some advocates for neurodiversity will disagree with me that autism is a disorder in the terms that I describe, and some have done so on my blog and to my person. But it is my experience that very few people would ever deny that autism is a disability.

I think it is important to maintain the distinction between disorder and disability because it affects the balance between trying to change autistic people and trying to change society. I believe we need to do a bit of both with the emphasis on changing society at present.

Kev said...

Steve, you're wasting your time responding to and expecting a measured response from Harold.

He has a pattern of behaviour:

1) Post unsubstantiated rubbish on his own blog about 'the neurodiverse'

2) When others point out his errors on their own blogs, comment once and once only with yet more unsubstantiated rubbish.

3) Flee and ensure any and all comments from the people he's attacked or their friends are never approved on his own blog.

The last time he did this on my blog I once more - as I always do - asked him why and asked him why it was worth responding to someone who clearly doesn't want a debate but just wants to pick a fight and delights in insulting people and misrepresenting them.

Of course, he never answered.

Regan said...

Even as someone who might find some of Harold Doherty's objective points valid, I can't take, nor wish to be represented by, his message as delivered because I object to all the incidental straw men he raises to make his points, and the hit and run he uses to discuss them. The snide personal attacks are just that, snide and to a large extent tangential and unnecessary.

My daughter is probably more like Harold's son than not, but as an advocate he leaves a lot to be desired.

Anonymous said...

"My daughter is probably more like Harold's son than not, but as an advocate he leaves a lot to be desired."

Only Harold's son can determine if Harold's advocacy skills leave anything to be desired.

Regan said...

"Only Harold's son can determine if Harold's advocacy skills leave anything to be desired."
On an individual basis, you are correct. It is that extension as the mouthpiece for those he terms "low-functioning" that I find unsatisfactory because he seems to have a continuing need to straw men other people to bolster the points, even when it does not apply to the discussion at hand.

Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Thanks, Steve. Yes, Camille -- I agree with your point.

I thank you for raising what the issues are with Mr. Doherty so that individuals realize how he doesn't respect disabled people in the least.

Phil Schwarz said...

I still fail to understand what possible *gain* Doherty and Mitchell derive from the arguments they make. Do they make Conor's, or Jonathan's, quality of life any better?

Stephen said...


Just writing to invite you to join a new social support group for Autism @ Would love to hear your feedback and thoughts.



Ettina said...

"A load of crap to put it politely"

*That's* polite? I'd hate to see you being impolite!

"Have you read Josh Greenfeld's book A child called Noah, showing how serious a problem autism can be in someone severely autistic and all the pain and misery it causes their families."

I don't think I've read that particular book, but I have *personally met*:

* a 14 year old whose primary mode of communication is grunting, with prompted signing and some pointing at pictures, who loved campers and really wished I loved them as much as he did, and who was impatient sometimes but usually happy

* a 14 year old who used a wheelchair, couldn't speak and as far as I knew only understood the word 'splash', who banged her head and bit me when I took her in wrong change room, and who loved the pool and being splashed

* a 10 year old who signed when prompted, could say 'yes', 'no' and name the letters and numbers, got really upset and screamed, pulled hair and occasionally bit people when things were noisy or something he liked was ending, looked delighted when he greeted me, loved to watch fans and loved it even more when I flapped my hands behind the fan, and loved to watch moving water and would flap and trill with excitement before, during and after a swim

All of those kids are considered severely autistic. All of them have a lot of struggles in their lives, mostly because they have poor communication and are hard for others to understand. And all of them are wonderful, unique people who would not be the same wonderful people if they were cured.
Certainly, they need help. They need help to communicate better. They need less stress in their lives and better ways of coping with it. The youngest boy has needed (and received) a lot of medical care, and also needs help coping with loss because he is a foster child and clearly misses his birth mother. But none of that is synonymous with curing autism - with changing who they are.
Why is there this ridiculous stereotype that neurodiversity supporters are unaware that severely disabled people exist and need help? Even I need help most people don't need, and I'm mildly autistic.