28 March, 2010

I support Ari Ne'eman, part two


I am an ASD person. But, something that I think is equally important, if not more so: for a few years I have volunteered with people who have mild, moderate, and severe developmental disabilities. I know a lot of DD people with different levels of impairment. I want to work with severely DD people after I graduate from college.

I care very much about people who are not "high-functioning," and I wouldn't support Ari if I didn't think he felt the same way. I used to not like him very much because I had gotten the impression that he was one of those "a dash of autism creates a genius" windbags. I later realized that this wasn't the case and was more a function of the way he was portrayed by popular news outlets, who were more interested in writing a gimmicky article about his disability than expressing what he actually believes and is actually doing. He has worked a lot on keeping people with disabilities from being abused in schools and institutions--an issue which generally affects people who are more severely disabled. He has also made comments that show he is not a Shiny Aspie, for example in this New York Times article from November:

“My identity is attached to being on the autism spectrum, not some superior Asperger’s identity...I think the consolidation to one category of autism spectrum diagnosis will lead to better services.”

The people who have campaigned against his nomination and confirmation are generally people who don't like the idea of ASD people expressing opinions--especially opinions that are anti-cure. They set up being anti-cure as being anti-severely disabled people. But I couldn't disagree more.

I've written several times about a school for ASD kids where I interned last summer. I have a lot of criticisms of the way this school is run, for example the fact that they are anti-stimming. However, because the school has a 1:1 teacher:student ratio and most of the teachers are really devoted to their jobs--plus the highly notable fact that every nonverbal kid gets an AAC device--kids with severe ASD are able to make a lot of progress. Every kid can communicate at least a little using their AAC device and understand schedules and instructions; and there are kids at the school who were nonverbal and have become highly verbal.

In Ohio, I know kids who have problems (including but not limited to ASD) that lead to them having trouble talking, looking at things, and paying attention. They generally don't have a person working with them 1:1 who is doing exactly what is necessary to help the kid pay attention and learn. So, they are way behind the ASD kids at the school where I interned.

The school where I interned is a charter school that kids with Autistic Disorder and PDD-NOS can get into by lottery, when there's a free space. It has the resources to serve 28 students. If you're a rich person with a severely ASD kid and you can't get them into that school, you can try to put them in a private school. If you're not rich, your kid can go to public school and be in a big special ed class where people will maybe sometimes pay attention to them, occasionally, and maybe that will or won't help your kid learn something or other.

The reason I'm anti-cure...well, I may not be anti-cure theoretically (I don't know if I am) but I am practically....and the reason I'm anti-cure is that there are lots of things you can do to help people with severe disabilities, but there isn't enough money. But there is a lot of money going to research. If everyone was anti-cure, the charter school could serve more than 28 kids.

But I do think ASD mice would be really cute.

No comments:

Post a Comment