Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

FAAAS Social Work Seminars: Lessons in Hate

Before I slog once again into the fetid swamp that is FAAAS, I'm first going to mention a recent advocacy success in Maryland, where new legislation has been passed to safeguard the rights of citizens with disabilities regarding child custody and adoption proceedings. The fact that a person has a disability, whether mental or physical, now cannot be a reason for finding that the person is unable to care for a child, in the absence of specific evidence relevant to the family's circumstances and the child's best interests.

Meanwhile, in the less enlightened state of Massachusetts, which is ground zero for the hatred and destruction of families wrought by FAAAS, true believers in Maxine Aston's Cassandra cult are teaching continuing education seminars that indoctrinate social workers to treat autistics as defective and unfit to live in families. FAAAS member Harriet Simons regularly teaches such seminars at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, such as this course in April. A similar program was presented in December by Grace Myhill, a social worker who is currently leading Aston-based support groups that are, to my great disgust, sponsored by the Asperger's Association of New England (AANE). Here's a link to the program's ugly content, from which I quote briefly:

"When a woman attempts to work through a problem in the relationship, the man with AS may respond to his partner’s feedback, expectations, requests or demands with denial, withdrawal, or even verbal or physical abuse. His rage or depression, problems with stable employment, or limited ability to parent then become additional stressors for the wife."

Nasty stereotypes like this have a long history of leading to actual discrimination against people with disabilities, including the serious issue of discriminatory treatment in child custody matters that the Maryland law addressed. Those who call themselves autism advocates while endangering our families by promoting the bigoted views of FAAAS and Maxine Aston in their associations, such as Dania Jekel of AANE and Stephen Shore (who recently wrote the foreword for Kathy Marshack's repulsive book that compares a relationship with an autistic person to living in prison, a war zone, and "a black hole of nothingness"), should be aware that they do so at the risk of losing whatever respect they might have had in our community.

Edit, June 4: I have just been informed that an Australian law firm, LAC Lawyers, has a page on its website advertising family law services "for people who have been affected by someone with Asperger's" and quoting extensively from the Potential for Abuse article that was recently removed from the ASPIA website in response to international condemnation.


To take action against this blatant appeal to prejudice and disability stereotyping, I've provided a link to a site that explains how to file professional disciplinary complaints against lawyers in New South Wales.

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  • But that's great news about the laws in Maryland, isn't it? I hope this kind of legislation becomes more common. There obviously needs to be more protection, specifically against this kind of discrimination... sad that it's necessary, but it is.

    By Blogger Fleecy, at 4:01 AM  

  • I erad that post and I'm shocked that those people have been telling other people to treat autistic people as if they're unfit for families. Even Goodsearch does this kind of thing. They have the option of donating to Autism Speaks, a group that smears crap all over the dignity of the autistic community, but they don't have the option of donating to TAAP or ASAN. Please read http://www.autistics.org/forum/index.php?topic=2456.msg4246#msg4246 for more information.

    By Anonymous Sadderbutwisergirl, at 2:53 PM  

  • The link given for LAC Lawyers Pty Ltd (Sydney & Melbourne) no longer works, but I was able to find a page at their web site specifically about AS. I noticed a punctuation error and a textual error on the page - very professional! These lawyers don't appear to have much of an eye for detail, not a great thing to see in the legal profession, which is so much about spotting errors and checking details.

    The stuff written at their web site is laughable - they claim to be " Asperger's aware" and offer their services to both people with AS and also people "who have been affected by someone with Asperger's". They claim to have a close association with ASPIA and quote from their material. I think these people are only aware of one viewpoint on AS, and it ain't ours. None of the stuff that they write about is relevant to family law, but I'm sure that wouldn't stop them from dragging the topics of disability and neurodiversity into the court room.

    By Blogger Lili Marlene, at 12:12 AM  

  • Oh, and I also noticed that LAC Lawyers only link to one item in "external resources" at their web page about AS - their link is to ASPIA, and no link whatsoever to any objective scientific or clinical web site about AS or any web site BY autstic people or AS activists. Their bias is obvious.

    By Blogger Lili Marlene, at 12:17 AM  

  • Some of these people who promote themselves as educators who spout negative stereotypes about people with AS, including Dr Attwood, are putting the idea around that men with AS tend to have little interest in sexual relations. WHAT??? My own personal experience does very much contradict that stereotype.

    By Blogger Lili Marlene, at 12:38 AM  

  • Lili Marlene, the link didn't work because the law firm's web page has an apostrophe in its address. I've edited the link to correct the problem. Thanks.

    By Blogger abfh, at 7:57 AM  

  • "Some of these people who promote themselves as educators who spout negative stereotypes about people with AS, including Dr Attwood, are putting the idea around that men with AS tend to have little interest in sexual relations. WHAT??? My own personal experience does very much contradict that stereotype."

    Lili, are you serious about these educators spouting things like having little interest in sexual relations? That's stupid. What have these educators been smoking? Whatever they have been smoking it must've been some laced stuff.

    Personally, I have tons of interest in sexual relations but NT women love to play these no means yes games in which I do not want to play.

    I could write these educators of the sexual fantasies I've personally had but I don't think that would be appropriate to our cause.

    By Blogger A better future for all, at 10:32 AM  

  • Again. Maxine Continues the "USvrsTHEM mentality that we strive to destroy.

    Apparently aspie men are a problem what about Aspie women? Or is she one of Those that believe that we don't really have AS?

    I wonder if she advocates that Aspies men should omly marry Aspie Women? IDK this is frustrating for an aspie woman.

    By Blogger Bard, at 2:19 PM  

  • There are some autistic people (not just men) that have little or no interest in sex. However, the same applies to neurotypical people as well. Also, I'm sure there are quite a few autistic people interested in sex, just the same as some neurotypical people.

    The educators' statement on that topic makes about as much sense as saying that some people with blonde hair have little or no interest in sex as if it was an unusual statement in relation to people with non-blonde hair. Which is to say none.

    By Anonymous Alianora La Canta, at 7:29 PM  

  • "When a woman attempts to work through a problem in the relationship, the man with AS may respond to his partner’s feedback, expectations, requests or demands with denial, withdrawal, or even verbal or physical abuse. His rage or depression, problems with stable employment, or limited ability to parent then become additional stressors for the wife."

    I have seen this happen. But I think if the man knows he has AS, it might make a lot of difference.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:18 PM  

  • Hello! I'm an autistic (AS) adult woman, married, and parent to two adult children, one on the spectrum. I wasn't diagnosed until my mid-40's.

    My husband and I have recently been going to couples counseling and it's been extremely beneficial for both of us. Well, once we found the correct counselor. The first one blamed everything on me, which both my husband and I thought was ridiculous, so we got the heck out of there.

    We ended up being referred to Harriet Simons, PhD, thankfully so. She is very well educated in helping with the relationship difficulties that arise, and not simply because of me being autistic.

    Here is her paper, that explains a lot of her stance: http://affectivedeprivation.blogspot.com/

    If you look at the article, it refutes the belief that the dysfunction within a relationship that sometimes may happen is solely due to the autistic partner. It's more about the fact that sometimes two different, neurodiverse individuals in a relationship may effect each other in ways that would benefit from clarification and understanding.

    Interesting side note, as reported to me by Dr. Simons, Maxine Aston refused to publish this article on the FAAAS website. I believe that this is a divergence from what FAAAS spouts off about the "support" for the "victim" in the AS/non-AS relationship. Also, interesting is to see how the FAAAS website has changed over the years, seems like they are getting more clever in their presentation in not being bald-faced about their prejudices. If they weren't still this way, then why would they not print this much more sane and moderate paper co-authored by Dr. Simons.

    I agree that the Cassandra cult is indeed a sad, misconstrued reduction of a complex relationship. It has been very hurtful to the autistic community as well. However, looking at some (certainly not all, and certainly not the majority, as far as I can tell, research is needed), neurodiverse relationships, there are problems that need to be helped for the relationship to be successful. What shame is in that?

    "As in Relational Disorders, AfDD does not result solely from alexithymia or low EI in one individual, but rather includes maladaptive patterns of responding by both individuals creating a dysfunctional juncture." This is a quote from the cited paper.

    Reaching out for assistance to qualified counselors that understand the neurodiversity within the relationship is a positive, not a negative. Just stay away from the ones that blame everything on the autistic, that's just plain quackery.

    By Blogger Twinklee, at 9:56 AM  

  • Twinklee, thanks for posting the link. No wonder FAAAS wouldn't host that paper. The paper breaks with the unfair tradition of blaming the person on the spectrum and apportions responsibility to the NT and to the troubled relationship 'interaction'.

    This is clearly a neutral approach and one that can steer a middle way out of this mess. I notice Maxine Aston has placed it on her website but FAAAS refuses to acknowledge it (does that not tell us something!). Maybe we should demand to know why FAAAS refuses to publish it? The public deserves an explanation for this refusal.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:43 PM  

  • Maybe we should send the Simons paper to the two arch protagonists; all-aspies-are-bameless-Ari and all-NT's-are-blameless-Karen-Rodman.

    If neither of them agree to the compromise position in the paper we should henceforth ignore them.

    Does anyone know Ari and Karen, both? Why not put it to them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:59 PM  

  • Having fun talking to yourself with sockpuppets, Simons? You're not fooling anybody. And we know all about your secret unadvertised Cassandra workshops, too. Your AfDD garbage is going to have a close encounter with the landfill of history.

    Not a threat, but a promise...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:49 PM  

  • Lol. No, not Simons.

    You really need to reign in that hate.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:58 PM  

  • I wonder what's up here ... I live in MA, and have direct contact with AANE (and seething contempt for FAAAS.)

    AANE are usually the good guys. In fact, they have gone head-to-head against FAAAS to prevent FAAAS-written legislation from being passed *shudders.

    I wonder if the content of these workshops has simply slipped under AANE's radar.

    More to the point, it is disturbing that hate speech against auties is being hosted by our local health-care institutions.

    What can be done about this?

    I would like to see the autie community turn its attention to massachusetts and voice its protest to these institutions.

    I believe that these places (and AANE) would rapidly pull the plug once they are made aware of the nature and scope of our objection.

    It worked with FAAAS. They can't get arrested in this state any more, much less rent a microphone.

    -- ceilingcrash

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:45 AM  

  • Wow... I've been reading FAAAS stuff and found it very helpful. It's probably the one thing that's allowed me to stay married to my husband, who has Asperger's syndrome, because I didn't understand "your planet", and now I do. I hope you're not imagining that being married to someone in the spectrum is just like being married to anyone else (unless of course everyone commenting here has AS, which would explain a lot). If you're willing to recognize that AS exists, you should be willing to admit that people who love and live with people who have it need help in understanding them. If MORE people read the awareness materials you seem to hate so much, there wouldn't be a need for protection against "discrimination". As for me, Cassandra, the wife and lover of someone who's gone through 14 jobs in the last 10 years, 5 suicide attempts, physical violence, an inability communicate well with a hitherto "NT", I've probably been brainwashed by a cult that says this is trouble. Come live at my house, and we'll see who needs "protection".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:05 PM  

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