Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amanda Baggs on CNN (again)

I didn't watch the program, but this morning the impact is already being felt. Autism is ignored by the majority of the population whose experience with the phenomenon is limited to occasional encounters with a neighbor or family member who mentions the word in conversation. But for those close to the condition, autism cannot be ignored. A bewildering array of behaviors and symptoms manifest what is generally called the autism spectrum which ranges from "mild" to "extreme" to "unmanageable." Autism is typically associated with children, although a growing number of adults now identify themselves as autistic.

Parents, educators and medical professionals who work with autistic children and adults seem to be slowly coming into agreement about how to define and react to autism, but at this point it remains a sensitive and hotly-debated topic, triggering extreme emotional reactions. Parents and care-givers, often coping with years of frustrating attempts to ameliorate the socially and physically destructive effects of autism, are sometimes pushed to the edge of patience. Likewise, the growing number of adults living with autism have in recent years found strength in numbers as a "neurodiversity" movement takes form, not altogether different from the old "womens lib" movement of the Sixties, the pre-cursor of modern "feminism."

Like feminism, the term neurodiversity means many things to many people. It is fast becoming a politically charged buzzword, apt to divide those using to it into polarized extremes, depending on whether they agree that autism should be regarded as a treatable, therefore "curable" condition...or, as neurodiversity advocates propose, a state of being, living and functioning deserving respect, accommodation and acceptance by those now attempting to "fix" these broken people.

This morning my heart goes out to both sides of this sensitive and painful discussion because of a comment left last night at a post in February about Amanda Baggs' first appearance on CNN. The writer, identified by his profile as John Best, left this comment:

Can you explain how Amanda has the wherewithal to make those videos but can't boil water?

My first instinct was to reply "Nope" and let it go at that. I have in the past already seen the kind of mean-spirited, deeply defensive, downright ugly responses she triggers from a few people who regard her as a fraud, pretending to be someone she is not in order to get attention or something...

After reading her blog and doing my homework for the past six months I can identify myself as one of her fans. Some of her writing reveals a rare level of patience, tolerance and insight into human behavior. I am impressed with her understanding of "power" in the richest sense of that word. But this is not the reason for this post. This woman does not need me to defend her. She does that quite well on her own.

Here is a snip concluding one of her comments about power...

Misusing power does not always make you an “abuser,” nor does it always make you any less loving than the next person. But it is… a human thing to do. People do this. It happens. It doesn’t make it right. But if misusing power makes someone a bad person, then every last human being is a bad person, and I don’t think that is true. What is true is that we all have the potential to screw these things up, but we also have the potential to deal with those screwups. When I point these things out about power, it is not meant as a personal insult. It is only meant to point out things that happen to everyone. As I said in another post, it doesn’t mean I’m calling you a bad person, I’m just calling you human, and I don’t hold myself exempt from any of this.

I am also not trying to make anyone feel guilty. Feeling guilty is not useful after you’ve been reminded enough of what you’ve done, or have the potential to do. Figuring out what to do, is more useful.

I have no way of knowing whether or not she was abused or imagined being abused. The question is very much beside the point. Anyone able to articulate such a charitable point of view deserves respect. Anything less will trap any critic in an ad hominem position that will reflect worse on the attacker than the target.

I want to write a lot more about this, but I'm running out of time. Before I leave this post, I want to add that after visiting the commenter's blog and reading an anguished cry for help I am deeply moved by his pain. So, too, are a long and continuing thread of commenters to his situation, some of whom are clearly not his fans.

This man has made, and continues to make, merciless personal attacks on Amanda Baggs, but at some level I believe his pain derives more deeply from a lifetime of frustration dealing with his son's self-destructive behavior than anything that has to do with Amanda Baggs or the neurodiversity movement.

There is much to add, but time does not permit. I have to go to work.
I never go to it, but I highly recommend listening to a program I heard on The Infinite Mind recently. ASPERGER'S SYNDROME: A SPECIAL REPORT
Aspergers is generally considered to be one manifestation of the "autism spectrum" and the guests on the program represent three outstanding examples of adults living with their self-identified Aspergers Syndrome.

Finally, here is a video produced by an autistic child from the UK.


Fore Sam said...

Amanda's fraud is a lot more complicated than attention seeking. She may actually be disabled but she does not have autism. The kid in your video does not have autism either. He's a little odd and may have Asperger's but does not qualify for autism. There is a huge difference.

My son became autistic without using LSD or magic mushrooms, unlike Amanda. That's only part of her fraud, Hoot. You see, kids with severe autism grow into adults with severe autism. They don't magically progress into people who can communicate with a keyboard. Most of them wind up in an institution and have no clue what's going on around them.

Amanda is subverting this truth and is working with people who are associated with the drug industry to make autism look like something that it is not. She even has a lawyer who follows me around to try to quell any discussion on the matter by threatening people with legal action who discuss the truth of the matter. The drug companies have a lot to lose, Hoot. Amanda is helping them fool the public to the crime of negligence they committed when they started poisoning people into autism 76 years ago.

Amanda would get no sympathy, services or social security if it became known that she had scrambled her brain with illegal drugs. That's why she parades her medical papers around the net to try to fool people into thinking she was always autistic. That's a blatant lie. She was a normal child.

If you watched that show last night, you would have seen a bunch of people who are allegedly autistic. It was easy to spot them since they looked like there was something wrong with them. Children with severe autism do not have the facial malformations that you saw on that show. They appear outwardly, to be perfectly normal. That's because they were born normal and had their brains damaged by mercury. They don't have any manifestations of genetic problems. If you knew any autistic children, you would also recognize that Amanda's hand stimming is not very similar to true autism. In true autism, the stimming hand movements are very quick. They come and go with no warning. Amanda flaps her hands continually for the camera but is able to type without having to stop for any uncontrollable stimming. Her phoney autistic stimming is calculated. There are no quick movements to it. She is acting. You should read more of my blog and see all of the information that is there that proves she is a fraud.

Anonymous said...

My mom's autistic patients often look a lot like her, actually. I don't see any "acting". Anyway, why would you want to have people in your house helping you 24/7 if you didn't have to have them? Why would you want to look autistic, if you weren't?

BTW, Amanda's staff help her make her videos; so if they've seen her web site (which they almost certainly have) they probably know she's done drugs. People don't get denied services just because of past drug use, especially if it wasn't long-term.

In fact, many people with mental illnesses self-medicate using various illegal chemicals; once the actual mental illness gets treatment, it's way easier to come off the drugs. So treatment and support for mental illness is actually a big part of addiction treatment. (I don't see autism as "mental illness", but it's listed with them and treated by the same people.)

I don't see any facial malformations...? Autism can co-occur with other disabilities--often does, actually--that do involve distinctive facial features. Down's is one example. (This is why I don't like to call them "malformations"... Down's people have rather pretty, exotic features, in my opinion. And the kids? Wow... their faces just scream "cute".)

bullet said...

The lad in the video is Rory Hoy, isn't he? This is quite a good article from one of his local papers which explains his early life in more detail. Apparently he didn't speak until he was six.

Hoots said...

Well, I gave it my best shot. This man is clearly unreachable. I'm leaving his comment to illustrate the point. Arguments between us are wasted efforts. Even today he said to someone who left a comment at his blog,

Amanda supporter, You scumbags will go to any lengths in your lies to support this bitch with LSD induced brain damage, won't you. She didn't have any sort of autism. She used to make eye contact normally and talk normally and have sex with males normally. Wake up, it's all an act.

Too bad he doesn't recognize neurodiversity. He would find protection and tolerance in such a group. I hope he isn't considered "neurotypical." I don't think there is room enough for both of us in that club.

Fore Sam said...

If I was unreachable, I wouldn't have listened to the people who gave me all sorts of evidence that prove Amanda is a complete fraud.

I'd say you're the one who's unreachable.