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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Autistic Pride Day

Yesterday, June 18, was Autistic Pride Day. A piece on Facebook provides some background:
Autistic Pride Day is a celebration of the neurodiversity of people on the autism spectrum on June 18 each year. Autistic pride is pride in autism, about shifting views of autism from "disease" to "difference". Autistic pride emphasises the innate potential in all human phenotypic expressions and celebrates the diversity various neurological types express.

According to the London Times of December 31, 2005, "Just as society learned to accept homosexuality, organisations such as the Autism Assembly and Aspies for Freedom say it should accept “neurodiversity” as something to celebrate rather than cure. In June, the organisations launched the first annual Autistic Pride Day, with events around the world, to persuade the rest of us — the “neuro-typicals” — that autistic people are “unique individuals” who should not be seen as cases for treatment."

Autistic pride asserts that autistic people are not sick; rather, they have a unique set of characteristics that provide them many rewards and challenges, not unlike their non-autistic peers. Researchers and people with high-functioning autism have contributed to a shift in attitudes away from the notion that autism is a deviation from the norm that must be treated or cured, and towards the view that autism is a difference rather than a disability. New Scientist magazine released an article entitled "Autistic and proud" on the first Autistic Pride Day that discussed the idea.

Kristina Chew writes:

It might seem odd to celebrate autism. As a parent, and a parent writing at the end of a day on which my son had a very tough episode in our car, I can't say enough that life raising an autistic child is not easy. .

It is necessary to remember that, as an autistic person -- an individual with a disability -- my son has rights: He has the right to an education. He has civil rights: As a suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a man with Asperger's Syndrome underscores, you cannot discriminate against someone on the basic of her or his disability.

The Independent reports that in 2010 an 18-year-old autistic man with severe learning difficulties was "unlawfully deprived of his liberty" after being regularly placed in a seclusion room more than six times a day at a residential school for "children with complex needs."

The judge in the above case ruled that the man's "article 5 right to liberty and security under the European Convention on Human Rights had been breached." It's important that the man's "liberty" is specifically mentioned: As Dora Raymaker writes, "Autistic Rights are Disability Rights are Human":

While autism makes us different, autistic rights is really about those things we all need, autistic or not, disabled or not, minority or not: food and shelter, respect and love, and empowerment to live our own lives in freedom, happiness, and health.

Anne Dachel of The Age of Autism, takes sharp exception:

I will always sympathize with any parent living with an autistic child. Kristina Chew however, asks not only for respect for the dignity of each person, regardless of their disability, she’s surrendered to autism. I can’t stomach the idea of a “celebration of the neurodiversity of people on the autism spectrum.”
Since it seems that no one can do anything about autism, Chew wants to embrace it. She pretends it’s the new normal.
Our children’s lives were stolen from them. This must be stopped. We can’t stand by and willing give up another generation of children to autism.
Chew is no different than any of the “experts” and leaders who merely ask for awareness. Giving in to autism means we’ve given up. Will we soon have “Alzheimer’s Pride Day” ? ….Dyslexia Pride Day? …….ADD Pride Day? ………..