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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

Friday, October 26, 2007


Stay Awhile

Stay awhile and listen. Lord knows we aren't doing much of it.

Henry T. Greenly, from "Knowing Sin: Making Sure Good Science Doesn't Go Bad," From Cerebrum, 2007:

" 'Despite the vision and the farseeing wisdom of our wartime heads of state, the physicists felt a peculiarly intimate responsibility for suggesting, for supporting, and in the end, in large measure, for achieving, the realization of atomic weapons. Nor can we forget that these weapons, as they were in fact used, dramatized so mercilessly the inhumanity and evil of modern war. In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.' -- J. Robert Oppenheimer (1947)

Like All Tools, scientific advances may be used for good or for ill. As our knowledge about the human brain increases, we will certainly use that knowledge to relieve human suffering in profound and wonderful ways. But the vast promise of the science should not blind us to the possibilities of its misuse. I believe those involved in human neuroscience need to pay attention to the risks that come with the science and to accept the duty to minimize the harm it could what extent should people be 'cured' of what they consider to be their personality traits? Should parents be able to use neuroscience to 'adjust' their children, something critics think is already happening with prescription drugs but that new techniques might make more powerful? As a parent of two teenagers, I can imagine the attraction of pills to 'help them' clean their rooms or do their homework before the last minute. On the other hand, should the state be allowed to interfere in how parents choose to raise their children? What of the government, near or far, that might use neuroscience to make dissent disappear -- not through the bread, sex, and some of Brave New World, or the propaganda and torture of 1984, but with a little blue pill? These are not new issues or new fears, nor do they have clear answers, but the rush of progress in neuroscience gives new importance to finding workable and ethical answers to them...The potential benefits from neuroscience are breathtaking, but so are some of the potential harms..."

It reminds me of the old saying: "God is in the details, but so is the devil."

There is a lot to talk about, and as I continue to repeat, this needs to happen with autistic individuals at the forefront. What right do we have to determine the value or state of one's life without asking the very individuals in question, first? Is the sin already committed, with the worst of it soon to come?

This video, by Christschool, for those not closely involved with the autism community, juxtaposes award winner Vernon Smith, an autistic man, next to the cure slide, and Hillary Clinton who states that we have to "prevent and cure anything along the autism spectrum." All of the slides within deal with many issues surrounding disability which includes autism:

Listen to Naomi Wolfe (thanks to Amanda Baggs who made me aware of this through her blog). She addresses abuses of power and the propulgation of fear which is something I address in my keynote in the way we promote autism and in this paper The Mismeasure of Autism: The Basis for Current Autism 'Advocacy.' Stay awhile can consider her words and how it applies to autistic individuals and their suppression today -- for simply seeking their civil rights and speaking out against more powerful organizations. I hope it doesn't deter individuals from seeking their civil rights despite the dark scenario she illustrates. In fact, she reinforces Hillel's statement -- if not NOW, WHEN?


Anonymous -Brian- said...

Science, itself, has been its own god for the past three hundred years, at least, and this god has not permitted any discent without painful repercussions.

For example, if anyone today challenges the "scientific method" of gathering statistical data used to determine such false propoganda as the "autism epidemic", the scientific community will defend the methods to the hilt, with no acknowledgement that their own methods could cause irreparable damage to human life (and life, per se, in general). They will state that the methods are "foolproof" and "thoroughly tested", but these adjectives only prove how foolhardy these scientists really are about their own perceptions of science.

It is no different than when religion (as we call it today) ruled the world. Then, no one could (without severe repercussions) challenge any religions authority whatsoever, and now, no one can challenge any scientific authority without the same painful results. It's like the authoritarianism of religion from years ago has jumped over to science, and the same evolution against this authority is in progress...with autism at the forefront of this evolution.

Hopefully, some day, this type of authoritarianism will, itself, disappear from human life, and the dignity of human life (including autistic life) will emerge once more, for all to enjoy.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous mike stanton said...

There are two disturbing aspects for the autistic community. The unremittingly awful picture of autism painted by some sectors of the so called autism advocacy movement is used to justify disregarding basic human rights in autistic people. "How can they have human rights until we make them fully human?" The second problem is the deliberate misrepresentation of neurodiversity as a movement of high functioning autistics who want to stop autistic children getting an yhelp at all because this runs counter to their misguided notions of autism acceptance.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your video makes the point of what may be on the horizon if our dear cousins to the south do not stand up for basic human rights.

7:10 PM  

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