Support by hard-core Neurodiversity advocates for Facilitated Communication

In my previous post I laid out the core tenets of a group of people who identify as autistic and affiliate themselves with a movement called “Neurodiversity.”

In its most hard-core form, the Neurodiversity movement, despite its name:

  1. focuses primarily on autism (at least where cognitive/sensory issues are concerned, as opposed to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity)
  2. fails to acknowledge the degree to which autistic brains can diverge intellectually and socially from non-autistic brains
  3. views autism as a monolithic identity more worthy of celebration than concern, and more deserving of accommodation and “presumed competence” than of treatment and intensive therapies.

Such views are, to say the least, controversial enough on their own. But they give rise, in practice, to even more controversy. For, in embracing and defending these views, many hard-core Neurodiversity advocates have ended up embracing and defending Facilitated Communication as well.

So much so that:

  • One of the board members of ASAN, the Autism Self Advocacy Network, is a “user” of facilitated communication, whose presence there and whose credentials as “non-verbal” are repeatedly cited by Neurodiversity advocates.
  • The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, which once included a variety of perspectives but has narrowed itself to hard-core Neurodiversity orthodoxy, summarily expunged a blog post written a former member (Kim Wombles) that was critical of facilitated communication:

TGPA_FC

  • Shortly after I questioned Shannon Rosa, one of the two remaining editors of the Thinking Persons Guide to Autism, about her/its support for Facilitated Communication on Twitter, the TPGA blocked me:

TPGA_BLOCK

  • As did Shannon Rosa herself:

shannon_block

(No matter that I, like Kim Wombles, once contributed to the TGPA book).

  • Later, when I corresponded with prominent Neurodiversity advocate Sara Luterman, a writer with bylines on Slate, the Guardian, and the New York Times, about Facilitated Communication (in particular about the ASAN board member who uses it), she called me “one of the most intellectually dishonest people” she’d ever met, and then:

luterman_block

Fully accounting for this level of groupthink and censorship, however, requires a separate post. More soon.

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