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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

Monday, October 15, 2007

 

Stand Tall

I have been away in Edmonton. I was a keynote speaker at AutCom. I will be making that paper available here later this week.

I have just learned that Kevin Leitch of the enormously important blog Left Brain/Right Brain has decided to shut it down due to John Best Jr.'s "Hating Autism" blog. John Best has written scathing, rude, inaccurate things about everyone he lists, including myself. I agree with Kristina Chew -- I just don't see how Mr. Best has done anything to advance the help autistic people need. In fact, he has done so much damage to their basic human rights.

That said, I used the title of journalist Patricia E. Bauer from her keynote speech on Down Syndrome. She wrote,

"a couple of years ago, a newspaper running a piece I'd written asked for a family photo, including Margaret. I gulped, feeling exposed, and called my husband to ask his thoughts. He said, 'Stand tall; run the picture.' We did.

That is my message. Stand tall; get out the message. People will listen. We can do it."


So many times, I've questioned using Adam's picture for fear he would be threatened or his photo would be abused -- much like what has been experienced by Kev. Not one of us can be intimidated by the likes of a man who hates autistic people as much as John Best has publically purported he does -- and as suggested by the title of his very blog. John Best, using pictures of children or writing dehumanizing articles about human beings who must struggle with the bias and discrimination in society MUST NOT BE EXCUSED BY ANY OF US. It is simply unethical to use anyone's picture, especially that of a child, and use it to target the parent with whom that person disagrees. It is the lowest anyone can go. (In the meantime, I heard that "Mr." Best has taken those photos down from his blog).

I fully understand Kev's decision. He has not "slithered away," as Mr. Best stated. He wishes to protect the dignity of his child. When a child's rights and dignity are violated, it's just plain crossing the line. It's not to say that name-calling autistic adults isn't, it's just that children simply don't have the resources to defend themselves. John Best violates the human dignity of every autistic person.

If Mr. Best was truly interested in a debate, then he would engage in one without resorting to name-calling and public dehumanizing. But let's lay down the rules: do not violate children. Do not threaten them. Are you even capable or accuracy and neutral language, Mr. Best? Or are your arguments so impotent that you have to resort to name-calling, and libel?

Friends, we have an obligation to protect our most vulnerable citizens, here.

So in the words of Particia E. Bauer, stand tall. We are proud of who we are, with our disabled/autistic or whatever "kind" of child we have. This mom, anyway, is interested in advancing a dignified discussion in the ways we can help autistic people throughout the course of their lives.

That said, here is the edited version I did of my video "Autism in the Media" which I understand people want a copy of. I do not charge for it. Just contact me for copy at estee@taaproject.com.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Maddy said...

"Stand Tall," works for me.[us]
Best wishes

9:40 AM  
Blogger Joseph said...

I agree. If John has an issue with something he saw on the Hub about thimerosal, he should make an argument. He has a blog. If a quote is taken out of context, demonstrate how it was taken out of context. Instead, the way he responds makes him come across as frustrated by the cognitive dissonance, and angered by the fact that Kev's daughter has made progress without chelation.

12:05 PM  
Blogger mumkeepingsane said...

Indeed.

12:12 PM  
Blogger isles said...

Marvelous video! I can think of a lot of people who need to see it.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Fore Sam said...

When you obfuscate the truth about autism, you (pl) are eligible for any and all abuse I choose to give you. I am far from done with you bunch of lowlifes.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Bev said...

Thank you, Estee.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Foresam,

Your respect for human dignity is noted.

8:48 PM  
Anonymous -Brian- said...

I wonder if autistic "haters", such as John Best, could not be prosecuted for spreading hate literature, at least in Canada. If others such as Zundel and Keigstra could be brought forward for spreading such messages (some of them on the Internet), I fail to see why people who spread hatred towards autistics should not be prosecuted as well.

Others, like Hilary or Jenny in the video, are, in many ways, just as guilty of harming autistics by calling autism a "devastating" condition, or by claiming that all autistics "need" treatments or a "cure".

I guess autistics are just too condescending to prosecute such individuals, with little support from the community against such attacks. Despite these attacks, the joy of autism is still there inside each autistic, like a small candle flame, with each candle being so unique.

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Estee--thank you so much. When you spoke of running the photo of your son because of your husband's words "stand tall," that was so right on, I nearly cried.

Operating out of love is so much better than out of hate, because it keeps our eyes open. Our kids, whether they are Downs kids, autistic kids, kids with brain injuries, any kind of kid--they all need to know how special they are, and as a population of adults we need to work to make sure that every child knows they are valuable and wanted and cared for.

Actually, let me amend that--every person.

Thank you--Metta, Rjaye.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

We will stand tall, and stand together against thuggery.
Thanks Estee.

4:55 AM  
Blogger TeresaJKP said...

WILL SHOWS A WAY THROUGH AUTISM
Revised Edition of Mother’s Memoir Rekindles the Potential for Hope

“I was beginning to take for granted the fact that we could move through a morning, an afternoon, perhaps even a whole day without a flip-out or a freak-out,” writes Kelly Harland, the mother of Will, a boy with autism. “Sometimes, in my indefatigable optimism, I get to a place where I really believe the whole nightmare is over. But something eventually comes up again, out of the blue, in a flash, an electrifying bolt.”
Seattle-based Harland, a teacher, singer, and writer, has masterfully captured these “flashes” in a compilation of evocative vignettes entitled A Will of His Own, Reflections on Parenting a Child with Autism [January 2008, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, $18.95, 978-1-84310-869-6].
Harland’s prose is vivid, her insight is razor sharp, and her story has merit for anyone who has ever experienced the utter vulnerabilities and joys, heartaches and little miracles which go along with raising a child not described as “typical.” Her chapters involve sometimes frustrating and heartrending depictions of life with a child who reacts fearfully to everyday events such as checking out at the grocery store. Yet, in the revised edition Harland adds glimpses of William in his teenage years that provide encouraging indications of hope, learning, and growth.
Harland writes, “Whatever has led us to this—years of speech therapy, hours upon hours of my own input based on instinct and a few educated guesses, his father’s incredible talent for showing him a way to walk through this world—William can see his dream, and it looks good. In fact, it looks perfect. And he’s telling me about it.”
Above all, it is the love for Will—for what he is, not for what he might have been—that shines through this book, and we get to know him as a charming, intriguing, and undeniably worthwhile human being. “Those with autism may have a very different way of looking at the world from the rest of us,” writes Jane Asher, President of the National Autistic Society, in the book’s foreword, “but if we can just step back occasionally and see life through the eyes of those like him, we might learn, not only something about their problems and what we can do to help, but also about ourselves.”

Kelly Harland is a Seattle vocalist, writer, and voice teacher. She is on the faculty of the music department at the Cornish College of the Arts. Her voice has been featured not only on radio and television, but also in backing vocals with Ray Charles and Etta James. She has written articles for the magazine Autism Advocate and contributed to the Cup of Comfort book series. She lives with her husband Chuck Deardorf, her mischievous cat Georgie, and her son William, who has autism.

###
For further information please contact:


Teresa Finnegan
Marketing Assistant
teresa.finnegan@jkp.com

Jessica Kingsley Publishers - 20 years of independent publishing 1987-2007
400 Market Street, Suite 400 • Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA
Tel.: (215) 922-1161 • Fax: (215) 922-1474
Visit our website: www.jkp.com

Van Tulleken Independent Publisher of the Year 2007
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1:38 PM  
Anonymous Elissa said...

We should all stand tall!!!

6:11 AM  
Blogger Autism Reality NB said...

Has John Best said that he hates autistic people?

5:58 AM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

Well AR,nb,

I think you could go and read the blog. But I foresee a problem in knowing how you "advcoate" for autism. You separate the autism from the intrinsic experience of the autistic individual. As autism is a disability, that is impossible. Experience and biology are entwined. While not determined; while all experiences vary for every autistic individual, every one of them talks/writes about their experiences of being an autistic person prolifically.

It would benefit every parent to attend the conferences where MANY autistic people (not just token autistics) go: TAAProject ones, AutCom, Autreat are only but three examples. It is extremely important that we as parents become sensitive to the experiences so that we can answer variable needs of autistic individuals.

When you say that neurodiversity doesn't believe that autism is a disability with many challenges, you are misrepresenting neurodiversity. Just read the blog of Joel Smith: "What Neurodiversity Ain't"

So, hating autism is hating autistic people. As much as you wish to try, Harold, you can't chelate or beat the autism out of the child. You can't "love the child but not the autism," as they go hand in hand.

While cancer is life-threatening, autism is life-long.

I am for a discussion that discusses the challenges that many autistic people face, celebrating the children we do have and the autistic adults we have come to know through their contributions, and discuss the varied ways we need to support this community -- of all ages.

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So, hating autism is hating autistic people."??

I thought the statement above was the stupidist thing I have ever seen in print until later in the same post it says, "You can't "love the child but not the autism," as they go hand in hand."

Do you think statements like that make you sound compassionate or what? You just sound like a cheap huckster. When's the part where you ask for money you clown.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Estee Klar-Wolfond said...

A definition of empathy is to also feel and understand what not only parents are going through, but the feelings of autistic people. We can't ignore either side, but the references ABOUT autistic people is directly effecting them AND the types of services our children receive.

In order to understand the logic (in the sense that hating autism is not the answer and that "hating autism" is perceived by autistic people as hating them because autism is part of who they are and how they experience the world), consider this statement from Malcom X from his speech The Last Message:

You have to realize that up until about 1959, Africa was dominated by the colonial powers. And by the colonial powers of Europe having complete control over Africa, they projected the image of Africa negatively. They projected Africa always in a negative light—jungles, savages, cannibals, nothing civilized. And, naturally it was so negative, it was negative to you and me. And you and I began to hate it. We didn't want anybody to tell us anything about Africa, and much less call us an African. And in hating Africa and hating the Africans, we end up hating ourselves, without even realizing it.

Because you can't hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can't hate Africa and not hate yourself. You show me one of those people over here who has been thoroughly brainwashed, who has a negative attitude toward Africa and I'll show you one who has a negative attitude toward himself. You can't have a positive attitude toward yourself and a negative attitude toward Africa at the same time.. To the same degree your understanding of and your attitude toward Africa becomes positive, you'll find that your understanding of and your attitude toward yourself will also become positive.

----

As far as disability, you can't separate autism or a disability from the disabled. It is part of the way they experience the world. It's not my sentiment. It's the sentiment of the disabled and the autistic community. I simply empathize with it. Fighting autism isn't a solution. It might be a FINAL SOLUTION, however.

It's simply getting us no where to use the type of referencing of autistic people and not recognize the damage that is being done.

You can think my statement is stupid, but it doesn't change the fact that there are millions of disabled people who feel this way.

4:38 PM  

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