Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Deconstructing Sally-Anne

Some unfounded myths about autism just don't want to die. The most notorious is the urban legend about children becoming autistic after vaccinations, which recently was described by Arthur Allen as a story with legs. Another myth that needs a wooden stake through its heart is the claim that autistics lack theory of mind, or the ability to understand that others have separate thoughts.

The theory of mind idea was a conclusion drawn from the Sally-Anne test, an experiment performed by Simon Baron-Cohen and other psychological researchers. The study included several groups of children, some of whom were autistic children. The researchers performed a skit that went like this:

Sally puts a marble in a basket and leaves the room. While she is gone, Anne removes the marble from the basket and puts it in a box. Sally comes back into the room, and the child is asked, "Where will Sally look for her marble?"

The response of most of the autistic children was to point to or name the box, while most of the non-autistic children identified the basket. The researchers concluded that the autistic children who chose the box were incapable of understanding that Sally did not know the marble was in the box.

Of course, this is not the only possible conclusion that could be drawn from the data, and it's not even the most logical interpretation. Because autistic children have significant differences in speech processing, it seems far more likely to me that they simply misunderstood the question.

The word "look" has several distinct alternative meanings in the English language. It can mean viewing a person or object, such as in the phrase "look at." It also can mean searching for a person or object outside one's field of view, when used in the phrase "look for." Distinguishing between these two meanings requires a child to have a fairly complex understanding of prepositions and idiomatic speech. (Edit: Dr. Morton Ann Gernsbacher has noted that the questions asked during such tests "are some of the most complex syntactic structures in the English language.")

Many autistic children learn the word "look" in the context of behavioral therapy with "look at me" prompts. Such children may not be aware that the word has an alternative meaning of searching for an item that is out of sight. They will interpret the question as "Where will Sally see her marble?"

Also, autistics are more likely to be visual-spatial thinkers, whereas the majority of the population consists of auditory-sequential thinkers. A visual-spatial thinker, upon hearing the question "Where will Sally look for her marble?" will translate that question into mental images of Sally, the marble, and the location of the marble. An auditory-sequential thinker, on the other hand, will focus on the action of looking as a sequential process: Sally first has to look for the marble before she can find it. There is an implied "first" in the question—where is the first place that Sally will look for the marble—but a child who processes language visually may not understand that the question has a sequential component. Instead, such a child may interpret the question as "Where will Sally have to look to find her marble?"

There are so many possible ways that an autistic child could misinterpret a question like that, it's frankly astounding to me that any researchers would think they had a basis for drawing any conclusions whatsoever from such a study.

Here's my belated Christmas gift to Simon Baron-Cohen: a few garlic cloves to put in Anne's box to keep the vampires away when it's buried.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Curing Unfairness

This post is a response to the folks mentioned in Joel Smith's post Hate, Anger, and Strawmen, who argue that if autistics choose to be happy with themselves and not seek a cure, then it's only fair that autistics shouldn't expect society to subsidize that choice by providing disability benefits or other services.

Okayyy... I'm going to give y'all the benefit of the doubt and assume, for the duration of this post, that you're not just obsessed with hating autistics and that you're genuinely concerned about fairness. Maybe your political opinions include a belief that tax money shouldn't be used to provide services to people who could have avoided the need for the services by making different choices.

If that's the case, then I expect that because you're so fair-minded and so interested in logical consistency, you won't mind my pointing out how such a rule would apply to other groups of people, too.

Let's start with smokers. It's a well-known fact that smoking is a leading cause of preventable disability. Why should society subsidize medical treatments and benefit payments for people who could've just chosen never to light up those cancer sticks in the first place?

And what about the millions of people who have health problems as a result of being overweight? How is it fair that the folks who go to the gym and work out every day are being made to pay higher taxes and insurance premiums because their neighbors are choosing to sit on their butts and drink beer in front of the TV?

While we're on the subject of beer, how about the people who are in poor health because of alcoholism or other forms of substance abuse? They all deserve to be homeless and die on the streets, right?

Let's also disqualify everyone who became disabled as a result of injuries from recreational activities. After all, they didn't have to ride motorcycles, play football, or go skiing, did they? Why should society pay for the consequences of their fun?

Now let's talk about another group of people whose disabilities could have been prevented—men. That's right, men. Statistics show that they have more disabling diseases, more serious accidents, and significantly shorter lives than women. (That's why their insurance rates are so much higher.) All that testosterone sloshing around in their bodies just isn't conducive to a long, productive life. So let's vote all the men off the health care and disability services island unless they make the socially responsible decision to have sex-reassignment surgery. Why should hardworking, taxpaying women be forced to subsidize their selfish choice to keep their testicles?

And while we're talking about personal responsibility, why stop with health care and disability services? We could save a lot more tax money if we didn't condone irresponsible behavior by providing expensive services like public sanitation and food safety inspections. After all, if people washed their hands and cooked their food thoroughly, they wouldn't need to worry about what parasites were in their pork or what toxins were oozing from the local cesspool.

For the same reason, why do we need vaccines... oh, that's right, y'all don't think we do...

Of course, we'd all have to deal with the teeny-weeny inconvenience of going back to a 40-year life expectancy or thereabouts, but at least we wouldn't need to worry about unfairness.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Blame Where It Doesn't Belong

Once again, the so-called Asperger Defense has reared its ugly head in a school stabbing incident that involved a teen with an AS diagnosis. I've already made it clear what I think of turning bigoted stereotypes into legal defenses, in a post I wrote last year, so I won't repeat myself on that issue. I would, however, like to thank the Asperger's Association of New England for issuing this statement:

"Physical violence is not at all typical of people with Asperger Syndrome (AS). AANE has worked with thousands of families, teachers, and other professionals for more than a decade. In that time, we have never before heard of a comparable event. We hope the public will remain open minded and open hearted, and not compound this tragedy by forming a sweeping negative stereotype about all people with AS."

It is absolutely true that physical violence is not typical of AS (or any other autism spectrum condition). The diagnostic criteria for AS describe differences in social interaction, as well as repetitive behavior. Other autism spectrum conditions also are characterized by speech differences and delays. There is no mention of violence or aggression anywhere in the DSM-IV criteria for any form of autism. To put it another way: Whether or not a person has displayed violent behavior is completely irrelevant, from the standpoint of a clinical psychologist, to the determination of whether that person should be diagnosed as autistic.

Moreover, there is (to the best of my knowledge) no statistical evidence indicating that autistics commit any more violent assaults than the general population. The image of the autistic berserker who might explode into homicidal rage at any moment is a vile and groundless stereotype that has been spread intentionally by greedy fraudsters such as Mark Geier and David Geier, by dishonest journalists such as David Kirby, by melodramatic TV hacks such as Dr. Phil, and by a few criminal defense lawyers scrounging for any excuse to get a client off.

So I was dismayed when I read a post on Susan Senator's blog that contains the following response to AANE's statement:

"I think it is a little disingenuous of the AANE to claim that physical violence is not at all typical of Asperger Syndrome. I know at least two children whose behavior can cast doubt on that statement. But more to the point, what is really not helpful about this is that the AANE seems to be in effect seeking to separate themselves from those other disabled people who do have profiles of physical violence (like some people with more marked forms of autism, perhaps)."

As long as we're throwing around anecdotes in place of science, I know at least two Aspie teenagers who are the most responsible, even-tempered, and nonviolent kids you'll ever see, and they deserve much better than the ugly prejudices and discriminatory treatment that they are going to have to face as a result of misinformation of this sort.

What's more, I don't see any intent on the part of AANE to separate themselves from "people with more marked forms of autism," as suggested by Ms. Senator, and it is completely untrue that such people "have profiles of physical violence." As I discussed above, there is no mention of physical violence in the diagnostic criteria for any form of autism, however "marked" it may be. Of course, that doesn't mean an autistic person can't be violent—we are human, after all, and violence is an unfortunate characteristic of the human species in general—but there is no basis whatsoever for a broad assertion that those with more pronounced autistic traits "have profiles of physical violence." To the contrary, autistics in all diagnostic categories are much more likely to be victims of violent assaults than to commit such assaults.

I believe there has been a lot of public confusion caused by the widespread use of imprecise language such as "meltdown" to describe both tantrums and sensory overload experiences of autistic people. Sensory overstimulation is fairly common among autistics, but tantrums involving physical violence toward others are much rarer.

A tendency toward sensory overload should not be carelessly equated to a propensity for physical violence, especially in the context of a homicidal assault.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On Being Normal

Just a few observations about normal development...

It is normal to grow a beard if you are male.

It is normal to develop breasts if you are female.

It is normal to have dark straight hair if you are of Asian descent.

It is normal to have dark curly hair if you are of African descent.

It is normal to have red hair and freckles if your ancestors came from certain Northern European tribes.

It is normal to have six fingers on your hand (or six toes on your foot) if you belong to a group called the Druze, who are found in Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.

It is normal to have a loving relationship with a person of the same gender if you are gay.

It is normal to communicate in sign language if you are Deaf.

And it is normal to process speech and social interaction in autistic ways if you are autistic.

So... can we all please quit talking about "normal development" as if there were only one kind?


Friday, January 19, 2007

A Delicious Rat Burger

There's a hilarious scene in the movie Demolition Man where Stallone, while walking through an underground rebel encampment, decides to stop and buy a burger from a Hispanic pushcart vendor. His companion points out that this might not be the best idea because, as anyone can see, there are no cows underground. Stallone asks the vendor what kind of meat is in the burger.

STALLONE: De que es esta carne?

VENDOR (cheerfully): Esta carne es de rata!

STALLONE (sputtering and looking disgusted): Rat? This is a RAT burger?!


Stallone, who ate some dull and tasteless health food in a previous scene, thinks about it for a moment. Then he wolfs down the rat burger and tells the vendor, "Delicious."

I was reminded of that movie when I read Kathleen Seidel's post about the new book by Professor Roy Grinker, Unstrange Minds, which explores the historical and cultural context of autism from an anthropologist's perspective and concludes that there has been no autism epidemic. In response to the book's publication, both Time and Slate have published articles sympathetic to the view that what is now called "autism" always has been part of human diversity throughout the world. Kathleen's post mentions that Professor Grinker's research on autism in Korea was funded by the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR), which has merged into Autism Speaks.

The post also discusses how Autism Speaks, after becoming aware of the book's content, reacted by employing an anti-vaccine consultant to solicit hostile parent comments about the book. Kathleen, who is a master of the art of understatement, describes this as "ironic." I'd say that the irony is so thick here, you could cut it with the proverbial knife. Or spread it on your rat burger with your ketchup and mustard.

Thanks so much for bringing the message of neurodiversity to the mass media, Autism Speaks/NAAR. Very tasty indeed.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 15, 2007

What Helps, What Hinders

I got an e-mail last week from a mother who complimented my blog and asked me to write an "advice for parents" post describing what helped me the most and what hindered me the most when I was a child.

First of all, I'd like to address a few general issues. There has been very little solid scientific research dealing with what kinds of educational methods, social environments, etc., are likely to result in good outcomes for autistic people. Unfortunately, that is because most researchers (and those who fund them) have assumed autism to be a disease process and consequently have focused their efforts on cure, treatment, and prevention (through eugenic abortion) of this supposed "disease."

At present, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is accepting public comments on how autism research money should be spent. The comment period closes tomorrow (January 16), and those of us who want to see more research into what helps and what hinders the development of autistic children should take advantage of this opportunity for the general public to influence the direction of autism research (an opportunity that doesn't happen very often) by sending a comment to iacc@mail.nih.gov. The email subject heading should include "Public Comment on Draft: Evaluating Progress on the IACC Autism Research Matrix."

You can find more information and a copy of the draft report on Kathleen Seidel's blog, but even if you do not have the time to study the draft report and respond to specific points in it, a brief e-mail stating your concerns about autism research would be better than no comment at all.

A petition will be sent to the NIH tomorrow, asking the NIH to approach autism research with respect for human diversity and to direct more funding to the study of autistic abilities and positive outcomes. Please read the petition and sign it if you agree with it.

I would also like to caution parents that any information or advice from me (or any other individual) should not be taken as representing the experiences of autistics in general. Some researchers have estimated the prevalence of autism spectrum conditions as 1 in 86; if this is accurate on a global scale, it would mean that there are about 70 million autistic people in the world. Conclusions about such a large population should not be drawn from a small sample of individuals. I encourage parents and others who want to learn more about autism to read a wide variety of blogs and websites by autistic writers (the Autism Hub is a good place to start) and to talk with autistic adults in real life, if possible.

Another related caveat: All of us, whether autistic or not, are products of our social environment to a large extent. Because I grew up in an environment where I was treated as a person like everyone else, I look upon my experiences as human experiences, rather than specifically autistic experiences. By contrast, those who often heard their behavioral traits described in medical or psychological terms during their childhood (as autistic "symptoms" or something similar) are likely to characterize their experiences as unique to autistics. Neither of these perspectives should be assumed to represent the full scope of autistic experience.

Now, on to things that helped and hindered me specifically: Books were very helpful for broadening my world as a young child. I learned much more effectively by reading than by listening to spoken conversations. Not all autistic children are visual spatial learners, but I believe that having plenty of books in the house during a child's early years (and reading to the child regularly) is beneficial no matter what the child's learning style may be.

Being able to play outside regularly and to go on long walks exploring my surroundings was also helpful. That gave me a better understanding of the natural world and a feeling that I was part of it. Many children nowadays (both autistic and non-autistic) are kept indoors most of the time because their parents worry that they will not be safe outside, and I think that's very sad. Children need time to chase butterflies, look for the end of the rainbow, and investigate wildflowers and shiny pebbles. Television and video games, no matter how good the picture quality may be, aren't a substitute for actual hands-on exploration of the real world.

What helped me the most? My parents had an easygoing and accepting attitude toward my development, however different it might have been from that of other children. They never made me feel that there was anything wrong or unhealthy about me. I grew up assuming that everyone was different in one way or another and that this was OK. Although my parents probably had some worries from time to time, they never discussed their worries in front of me. I was encouraged to follow my interests and was told that I could grow up to do whatever I wanted to do.

What hindered me the most? Well, the usual stuff that stresses out children in general... my parents getting divorced, having to move because of that, and the related disruptions. To some extent, however, there were positive effects (in a "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger" kind of way). Although I went through a few years of acting up at school and other places, my ability to deal with change improved significantly. Years later, when I looked back on my childhood, I saw myself as a capable, healthy person who had some school problems because of stress, rather than as a disordered or abnormal person. But that wasn't entirely for the best, either; I had no idea how the rest of the world saw me, and I wasn't at all prepared to deal with discrimination after I left college and went out into the business world (it took me quite some time to understand what was going on).

So there's a trade-off that parents need to consider: Too much information about a hostile world and its prejudices can cause a child to despair, but too little can leave the child unprepared for real life. Parents need to be very careful in deciding what to say to (and in front of) their child about the child's differences. This is, of course, an issue for all minority families, not just for families with autistic children. I hope that as our society becomes more accepting of human diversity, tomorrow's families will not have to face such choices.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Freedom to Make Mistakes

Some parents now are being advised, by professionals and Internet support groups, that the best course of action with an autistic teenager is to apply for guardianship while he or she is still a minor because the court will grant it routinely. Even if the teenager in question is responsible, well-behaved, and doing fine in school, the parents are told that a continuing guardianship is necessary because autistics are just too naïve socially to protect themselves from being cheated in the big, bad, evil world out there.

Here's a reality check: Millions of young adults rent overpriced apartments, run up credit card debt buying products they don't need, respond to slick advertisements as predictably as Pavlov's dogs, get cheated buying used cars, and make other unwise decisions. Most of them are not autistic.

Not all that long ago, parents simply took it for granted that if a teenager was naïve, he or she was going to end up learning a few useful lessons in the School of Hard Knocks. Making mistakes and learning from them was considered to be a natural part of the process of gaining life experience and wisdom, not a horrible calamity to be avoided at all costs.

Before the autism diagnosis came into common use (again, not all that long ago), parents often encouraged their socially inexperienced teens to get more involved in the world and to make more decisions, so that they would learn how to go about it. Now, however, expectations have shifted radically for those with the diagnosis. They are being redefined as perpetual children who cannot choose to work, marry, rent an apartment, or make any other adult decisions.

This is how human rights disappear.

Let's go a little farther back in history, to the days when married women could not own property or enter into contracts. These laws were based on the cultural assumption that women were naïve, childlike, and in need of protection. Similar attitudes were found among the supporters of slavery and segregation, who often argued that blacks did not need equal rights because they were not capable of making intelligent choices.

Given the fact that women and blacks were systematically excluded from almost all aspects of the business world in those days, it's likely that many of them actually were much more naïve and easily cheated than white men. But the remedy for that (as society discovered in modern times) was to provide better education and equal opportunity, not a permanent and total deprivation of civil rights.

The same holds true for autistic teenagers. There are financial education classes that teach young people how to create and live within a budget, how to handle credit prudently, how to rent an apartment, and other useful information on how to manage money. Parents can, and should, talk with their teenagers about sensible rules for making financial decisions—such as not making a major decision without taking time to research and reflect on it, not buying a used car without having a mechanic check it over first, and so forth. Achieving a basic level of financial literacy is just as important as learning the subjects taught in school.

Yes, they'll make some mistakes (just as most non-autistic teenagers will) but the consequences usually won't be serious, and they will learn from their experiences, as they do in other areas of life.

One of the freedoms most vital to our civil rights is the freedom to make mistakes.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 07, 2007

David Kirby: Truce, My Ass

Thanks to Joseph for this post's title, which refers to David Kirby's article claiming to seek a truce with neurodiversity activists. This is what I have to say about that:

You really don't get it, Kirby, do you? This is not an academic debate for any of us on the neurodiversity side. It's a real-life war. Unlike you, Kirby, we don't have the option of just walking away and going back to our previous lives. Those lives no longer exist. All the bigoted stereotypes that you and your cronies splashed all over the international media made sure of that. Now we're a despised minority race of second-class citizens struggling with prejudice and discrimination, our civil rights in jeopardy at every turn. Governments and private organizations are funding prenatal screening research to identify and abort autistic children. We're on the brink of eugenic extermination worldwide.

Those of us who are autistic face the prospect of spending the rest of our lives in the grim limbo to which those with Down Syndrome already have been consigned—existing only as isolated survivors of a routine eradication scheme, regarded by society as blunders of nature who never should have seen the light of day. Likewise, neurodiversity activists who are parents understand that if society's intolerant attitudes do not change, their children soon will have to face that nightmare scenario. What parents would want such a horrific future for their children?

To make myself completely clear, Kirby, the reason you're our enemy is because of your disgusting display of bigotry toward autistic people, not because of your opinions (however ignorant) on the thimerosal hypothesis or "biomedical" approaches in general. As Kevin Leitch recently pointed out, neurodiversity is a broad-based philosophy of respect and social acceptance for all people, regardless of their neurological configuration. It doesn't require its adherents to hold identical opinions about the causes of autism, the merits of alternative medicine, or dietary choices. Many of us take dietary supplements to improve our health. Like anyone else, autistic people can benefit from a healthy diet and regular exercise. Some of us find meditation or other "alternative" methods of reducing stress to be helpful.

We have no quarrel with caring and respectful parents who reasonably believe that a particular alternative diet or treatment is helpful for their child, and we have no animosity toward people who want to discuss potential causes of autism rationally and politely.

But when it comes to the greedy quacks who knowingly endanger autistic children with bogus medical treatments and frighten parents with a nasty barrage of false horror stories; to the self-proclaimed charitable autism advocates who envision a world eugenically cleansed of autistic people; and to the publicity-scrounging media vultures who deliberately fan the flames of bigotry, knowing full well how much damage they are doing, for their own personal gain —

No quarter.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Luddites, Biomarkers, and Baby Lize

On the night of March 11th, 1811, a group of skilled textile workers in Nottinghamshire broke into a village shop and smashed wide knitting frames as a protest against the use of the machines by less skilled workers, which had lowered wages in the textile industry and had produced inferior goods. Similar machine-wrecking attacks, some of which were carried out by workers who claimed to be under the command of "Ned Ludd," took place in Britain for several years thereafter. The protest movement came to be called Luddism, a term that later acquired the more general meaning of resistance to technological advances.

What does this have to do with autism? Well, when I criticize psychologists and genetic scientists for their biased views toward autism, I sometimes get comments pointing out that life wasn't the proverbial bed of roses for many autistic people a generation ago, before the concept of the autism spectrum was developed. (That's a point I don't dispute, by the way.) And some commenters also mention that autism research has the potential to result in positive changes.

I read this statement recently, which expresses a view that many parents hold, in a post on a mother's blog:

I like the idea of biomarker research because if I had known that my child was going to have autism... or any other disorder (I really hate that word, but can't think of a better one right now) I would have been able to get her the resources she needed a lot sooner!

That's a valid point. I really hate to take a Luddite stance on this issue, especially considering that I have a futurist philosophy in general and consider the development of new technology to be a very good thing under almost all circumstances. Technological change makes us a more informed, productive, rational, and prosperous society. It's quite true that autism biomarkers could help to identify children who would benefit from particular educational methods and therapies. Biomarkers also could result in the development of better drugs for the autistic population. I don't mean psychiatric drugs, but medications in general; it's a well-known fact that mass-market pharmaceuticals are less effective and have more side effects among genetic minority groups, for the simple reason that the drugs rarely are tested for their effectiveness in groups of people who may diverge significantly from the population's genetic average. (Until recently, doctors didn't even know how young women would react to most medications because drug trials never included women of childbearing age.)

Sometimes, though, in extreme circumstances, it does become necessary to consider whether a new technological development could have devastating effects on the world in the near future. When Hitler came to power in the 1930s, several German physicists who were involved in atomic energy research understood what would happen to the world if Hitler got the atomic bomb. As a consequence, they made the decision to abandon their research in Germany and to begin their work anew in the United States. If, instead, they had thought only of their research and had decided that it was more important than political considerations, the world's democratic nations might not now exist.

I believe that we are at such a crossroads today with respect to autism genetic research. At some point in the future, it will have beneficial uses, just as nuclear energy has beneficial uses. But if we rush headlong to discover autism biomarkers without considering the political climate in which this information will be used, we risk the very real possibility that eugenic abortion will destroy most of the autistic population before we ever reach the point of benefiting from the research.

Let me make myself clear on this point: I am not, in any way, advocating Luddite-style terrorist attacks on autism research laboratories, and I hope no one is seriously considering such a thing. Instead, what I would like to see is a much slower pace for the genetic studies. We need to shift the majority of our autism research funding into such areas as determining the effectiveness of various educational programs, studying how autistic children develop language, and investigating what kinds of support services are most helpful to autistic adults. That will give our ethics and our understanding of autism more time to catch up to the genetic technology.

Here's one more historical incident I find relevant: In 1983, the abandonment of an infant in Pretoria, South Africa, sparked a major controversy over racial prejudice because the country's strict apartheid laws required that every child be assigned to a racial category. It was unclear whether the child, who was given the name Lize, was white or of mixed race. The authorities conducted an analysis of Lize's hair and concluded that she was of mixed race.

The use of hair analysis technology to classify Lize did not benefit her in any way. It had no purpose other than to assign her to a category of socially inferior people. An autism spectrum diagnosis, on the other hand, is intended to (and often does) assist families in obtaining services. Still, we need to consider the extent to which our society's classification of children as autistic—whether by prenatal genetic diagnosis, postnatal genetic diagnosis, the current behavioral diagnostic criteria, or any other means—results in enforcing cultural prejudices and segregation, rather than actually improving society's understanding of their needs.

Lize was fortunate in that South Africa's apartheid regime came to an end while she was growing up. She did not have to go through her days branded as a lesser human. Will today's autistic children be that fortunate?


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

You're not safe either, dude

Hey, you.

Yeah, I'm talking to you, dude—the guy over there biting his fingernails and getting all stressed out about the devastating autism epidemic that's supposedly going to destroy life as we know it.

I just heard some interesting news. The psychiatrists who have been working on the DSM-V decided to add some new disorders. Not to upset you or anything, dude, but it looks like you might meet the diagnostic criteria for one of them, Apocalyptic Melodrama Disorder. Symptoms include high levels of anxiety, irrational fears of catastrophe, and significant impairment of the ability to think rationally about news reports.

You say there are no scientific research studies that would support giving anybody a label like that? So what? When has that ever stopped the psychs before?

Okay, you think I'm being absurd. You're sure nothing like that could ever happen. You believe you're completely safe because there's nothing wrong with you.

And you know what? That's exactly how I would have reacted if anyone had warned me, a decade ago, that I belonged to a group of people who soon would be shunned worldwide and treated like defective subhumans because of the newly created concept of an autism spectrum. If anyone had told me that my tax money would be used to fund eugenics research to "combat" the existence of people like me, I probably would've laughed in his face and asked him what the hell he'd been smoking.

Live and learn.

I'm sure you haven't paid any attention to a word I've said. You're too busy enjoying the comfort of your peaceful little bubble of social conformity, secure in the knowledge that you're just like everyone else. You're normal... at least for now.

Oh, by the way, it might be a good idea for you to go visit a manicurist and get something done with those nails you've been biting. After all, you wouldn't want anyone to think you were exhibiting a symptom of a mental disorder. That would be very bad for your career prospects and your civil rights in general, you know.

Dude, I'm just trying to be helpful.

Labels: ,