I have repeatedly tried to point out to Harold Doherty that far from protecting autistic people, his views of us actually endanger a good many of us. In the service of his cause (silencing the voices of autistic self-advocates, as far as I can tell), he has trotted out the old and dangerous myth that anyone capable of communicating a desire to remain autistic is, in fact, oblivious to the realities of self-injury, institutionalization, running into the street, and so forth.
In response to his post about the supposed “siren call” of neurodiversity advocates, I wrote a reply that among other things acknowledged the reality of autistic people who are considered severely disabled (that’s a classification I officially belong to), and the experiences we go through, but proposed another way of looking at this.
In addition to failing to post my comment, he has written a further response that went:
The reality which you are unable to acknowledge is that a great number of autistic persons ARE severely disabled. The existence of some highly skilled, high functioning autistic persons does not in any way change the fact that many autistic persons are severely disabled. The neurodiversity movement does not acknowledge or even admit that reality.
So, I acknowledge that some autistic people are severely disabled, he fails to acknowledge that comment by deleting it, posts something as if that comment never existed, and then tells the world that neurodiversity advocates are the ones failing to acknowledge something?
I know what he is failing to acknowledge:
One side-effect of the myth that only autistic people who cannot currently discuss being autistic in English are severely disabled, is that autistic people who can discuss being autistic in English die. There is no nice way of describing that. Policy ends up being made by people who listen to people like him. People judge our ability to do other things by our ability to talk or write, sometimes without even bothering to determine what those other things are. People who can talk or write or hold jobs or whatever are turned down for assistance that would allow them to survive. The lucky ones find that assistance in some other way. The unlucky ones go through things like starvation, homelessness, institutionalization, and death.
I wrote To the Kit Weintraubs of the World a couple of years ago, in response to Kit Weintraub spreading similar stereotypes. I don’t need the exact same assistance now as I did then (in part because I live in a more autistic-accessible environment at the moment), but the point still stands, and the Kit Weintraubs and the Harold Dohertys of the world would do well to actually listen to this rather than find some way to dismiss it, ignore it, fail to print it, and fail to acknowledge it.
Or maybe, to them, the lives of autistic people who can oppose their viewpoints in a way they can’t deny are less valuable. I can’t discount the possibility. Maybe if we all just starved to death without any services because we couldn’t possibly be severely disabled enough to need any, we could stop doing things like trying to affect policy and ethics surrounding autistic and other disabled people. Maybe we’re just too inconvenient for anyone to acknowledge — and maybe the fact that we are committed to building a world in which people of all disability classifications are able to live full lives regardless of what classification they happen to fall into, will get swept under the rug so long as they keep claiming that we don’t live the lives we lead or hold the views we hold. Whatever it is, they sure don’t want to listen to us.
For more on this topic, read Autism Advocates Do Not Take Autism Seriously. One has to wonder, at any rate, why so many so-called “autism advocates” are so dedicated to trampling on the autistic self-advocacy movement.