My Photo
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Viva La Difference!

It's perhaps slowly becoming known that there is an alternative view that autistics are different, not aberrant. It is more than apparent, after meeting any autistic person, no matter how "profoundly disabled or autistic" one person subjectively decides them to be are, well, just human. Difference does not define who we are and how we should be treated (often as ill or deficient), but rather, differences might be viewed as what makes up humanity. Valuing difference can also lay a path in providing the services required to also equalize the "human field" while respecting and protecting the difference, the heritage, the being. The pitfall of social stigma of human difference -- race, gender, sexual orientation and disability -- might be eradicated with this emerging awareness of the over-homogenization of human appearance and behaviour.

In this Association for Psychological Science Presidential Symposium, Dr. Morton Ann Gernsbacher chairs, "Stigma from Science: Group Differences, Not Group Deficits" Viva La Difference, (not La Deficit). Joining her on the discussion of stigma in science, are Susan T. Fiske, APS Fellow Douglas L. Medin, APS Fellow James Jones and APS Fellow and Charter Member Gregory M. Herek:

"I'm not saying that people are politically biased and that their science is suspect," Fiske explained. "I'm saying that people pursue what they find interesting, and what people find interesting is informed by their values and their identities." Group differences, when used unjudiciously, "have the tendency to divide us and oversimplify," Fiske said. For one thing, differences assumed to exist between groups can become self-fulfilling (as in the phenomenon of "stereotype threat") and prescriptive. Even positive attributes can be damaging when assigned to a whole group._ -- Fiske.

"A big problem in research is you start with what you know, in your own culture." As a result, he said, it is easy to export our own presumptions to other cultures and other ethnicities and to minimize the differences within cultural/ethnic groups." -- Medin.

"If you allege that groups are inferior, and then you develop opportunities for them consistent with that inferiority, then of course they behave in ways you predict so you have a sort of scientific self-fulfilling prophecy." --Jones.

"On the subject of homosexuality, Sigmund Freud was ahead of his time, Herek said. Although he maintained that homosexuality reflected a less-than-optimal object choice, he did not consider it a sickness. But despite following the psychoanalytic paradigm through the first half of the century, the American psychiatric establishment departed from Freud on this matter and classified homosexuality as an illness. It was a classification based on assumptions and not on sound empirical data.

"The logical response was to cure it," Herek said, and numerous techniques were tried to alter people's sexual orientation -- all unsuccessful, some tragic." -- Herek.

Thanks to APS for putting on this presentation and The Autism Acceptance Project hopes to follow suit in 2008.


Blogger abfh said...

Yes, another presentation in 2008 would be good; after all, it's a point that can't be made too many times.

11:13 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home