Apparently the President has put on hold the nomination of Autism Advocate Extraordinaire Ari Ne'eman to the Disability Council. There has been a great deal of negative feedback to the President for his pick of Ari. You can read more about the issue here. There is no question in my mind, however, that Ari deserves the post because he is a tremendously powerful, persuasive, and articulate spokesperson for high-functioning autism.
The problem with the pick is that autism is such a broad spectrum and those most affected by it are also extremely diverse to the point of terrible antagonism in the autism community. The cracks that run in the autism community landscape are broadening to the earthquake level. Autism-Vaccine-Connectors vs. Autism-is-Genetic-and-not-an-environmental-injury is only one such divide. We also have autistics themselves vs. parents. We have behavioral-therapy-practitioners and we have relational-therapy-practitioners; we also have biomedical-interventionists and traditional-medication interventionists. And I am mostly speaking of the case of autism parents, not of those with autism themselves.
We also have the majority of the parents who are a bit of all of the above. We try many many things to help our kids perform at their best potential. That is a parent's job -- along with loving and accepting our children for who they are. I don't need to lecture any of you on this.
It is this broad and colorful reality of the autism experience that calls for a more diplomatic choice than Ari, or for a co-representation. My thinking is that Ari represents many autistics themselves, the high-functioning in particular; so then we also need a parent (parents are arguably just as affected by autism as autistics themselves, particularly the more involved children with autism). We need diplomatic people on this council who will listen and truly represent and understand all of the plate tectonics of the many autism continents. If we are talking about autism policies and programs and the spending of money, we are talking about a serious chunk of change and energy. We therefore need the broadest and least inflammatory representation possible. I think Ari + a parent of a fairly severely autistic child would be the best representation for such a split community.
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