Thursday, January 24, 2013

The neurodiversity movement

Here is today's bad newspaper advice:
Dear Annie: "Worried Grandma" was concerned about her granddaughter, "Kelly," who had difficulty modulating her voice and felt that men were turned off by her loud personality.

Please tell her to look into whether Kelly has Asperger syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. Asperger's often goes undiagnosed until later in life, but its primary symptom is extreme social awkwardness and an inability to appropriately "read" the social cues of others.

With special training, Kelly can learn how to modify her behavior and pick up on these social cues. But it's unlikely she can do it on her own. A correct diagnosis can go a long way toward repairing her self-esteem. I hope her parents will get Kelly the help she needs to succeed in this world. — Vermont Professor
No, "loud personality" is not a symptom of Asperger Syndrome. It is debatable whether there is any such syndrome, as it is dropped from the DSM-5. This "Vermont Professor" seems to be part of the movement to pathologize normal variation in behavior.

There is currently a hot controversy over a neurodiversity movement changing the public face of autism:
... the autism community, which has increasingly been divided between those who consider autism a disability and those who believe it is merely a different, not worse, way of thinking and interacting with the world. This latter position is espoused by the autism rights movement, also called the neurodiversity movement, which has evolved over the past two decades from an ad-hoc association of individuals with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome and their families into a powerful lobby led by organizations such as Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and Autism Network International. ANI’s founder, Jim Sinclair, wrote the famous 1993 essay “Don’t Mourn for Us,” which accused parents who long to cure their children’s autism of really hoping “that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces.” Today, neurodiversity activists sit on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (which advises the National Institutes of Health on how to allocate its autism research budget) and the National Council on Disability. 
The Neurodiversity Wikipedia page defines:
Neurodiversity is a concept suggesting that neurological differences be recognized and respected as a social category on a par with gender, ethnicity, class, or disability. Examples of these differences can include (but are not limited to) individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, dyscalculia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourette syndrome, and others. ...

Proponents of neurodiversity strive to re-conceptualize autism and related conditions in society. Main goals of the movement include:
* acknowledging that neurodiverse people do not need a cure
* changing the language from the current “condition, disease, disorder, or illness”-based nomenclature
* broadening the understanding of healthy or independent living; acknowledging new types of autonomy
* giving neurodiverse individuals more control over their treatment, including the type, timing, and whether there should be treatment at all.
Not everyone wants to accept people as they are. Here is an effort to shame fat people:
Daniel Callahan, a senior research scholar and president emeritus of The Hastings Center, put out a new paper this week calling for a renewed emphasis on social pressure against heavy people -- what some may call fat-shaming -- including public posters that would pose questions like this:

“If you are overweight or obese, are you pleased with the way that you look?”

Callahan outlined a strategy that applauds efforts to boost education, promote public health awareness of obesity and curb marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

But, he added, those plans could do with a dose of shame if there’s any hope of repairing a nation where more than a third of adults and 17 percent of kids are obese.

“Safe and slow incrementalism that strives never to stigmatize obesity has not and cannot do the necessary work,” wrote Callahan in a Hastings Center Report from the nonprofit bioethics think tank.
The paper says:
The obese are said to be lazy, self-indulgent, lacking in discipline, awkward, unattractive, weak-willed and sloppy, insecure and shapeless, to mention only a few of the negative judgments among doctors and nurses.
If this works, maybe he will next start a campaign to shame single moms.


Jason Ogden said...

Because of the increase in fast food chains, advertisements, whether in print classifieds or from the internet, there is no denying that the influence also comes from the media when it comes to unhealthy food. This does not mention its availability and convenience especially for people who have no time to cook. Back in Manila this is also an issue of concern amongst the health care practitioners.

Makayla Code said...

At this point, neurodiversity is still a concept that is being argued basing on scientific explanation and norm acceptance. As we know, many people cannot accept that autism is not a disorder, but a change of personality that implies being different in cognitive functions.