The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Lifestyles

January 18, 2013

Slate: Is the neurodiversity movement misrepresenting autism?

Much of what we know about autism has changed since my son Jonah was diagnosed in 2001, but the metaphors we use to conceptualize it have remained largely the same. Portia Iversen, founder of Cure Autism Now, writes in her book "Strange Son" that she thought of her son's autism as a "deep well" he had fallen into. Jenny McCarthy describes the "window" through which she struggled to free her son from his autism. Arthur Fleischmann states in Carly's Voice, his account of how his severely autistic daughter developed the ability to communicate using a keyboard, that "There was a wall that couldn't be breached, locking her in and us out." The more profoundly impaired the child, it seems, the more likely these images of physical barriers are to crop up, as parents search desperately for the "intact mind" (Iversen again) they believe is there, somewhere deep down, despite often brutal symptoms that suggest the opposite.

It's not just the hope of desperate parents that fuels this quest — although, as one of those parents myself, I would never underestimate our ability to persist in our hopes and efforts even in the face of abundant evidence. Over the past decade, our faith has been validated by the emergence of several seemingly low-functioning autistics whose "intact minds" have been revealed through their brilliant writing. These celebrities, including Amanda Baggs, Sue Rubin, Tracy Thresher, Larry Bissonnette and others, speak minimally, if at all, and require support for even the most basic of life skills. Yet their blogs, videos and written commentary — as seen on major networks such as CNN and in Academy Award nominated documentaries — have inspired countless parents around the world.

Jonah was 4 years old when he started writing in chalk on our driveway without ever having been taught — although his phrases, like "FBI WARNING," were admittedly less communicative than Carly Fleischmann's complaint, "HELP TEETH HURT." Despite that, I really believed, for many years, that Jonah would develop into the next Tito Mukhopadhyay, the Indian boy featured in Iversen's "Strange Son," who published several books of poetry despite autism so severe he was nonverbal; prone to constant, repetitive movements, or "stims"; and, not infrequently, disruptive, noncompliant, and even aggressive with his mother.

1
2 3 4 5 6 7
Text Only
Lifestyles
  • Friend of the Fair Two honored as 'Friends' MORRISON, Ill. — The Whiteside County Fair recently announced its 2014 Friend of the Fair. Paul Vock and Dan Heusinkveld are this year’s honorees. The two men have been involved with the fair for decades.Vock started with the fair in 1971 as the Heav

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Clinton Herald Jim Miller Low-cost, free cellphone options for seniors DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: What are the cheapest cell phone options available today to seniors living on a shoestring budget? I only need it for occasional calls. — Seldom Calling SeniorDEAR SELDOM: For financially challenged seniors who only want a cell pho

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bice Nurses earn Daisy awards

    CLINTON — Two Clinton nurses recently earned Daisy awards.Mercy Medical Center nurses Jodie Atkinson and Kristen Bice earned the awards that is rewarded to extraordinary nurses. Atkinson began her career in nursing at Mercy Medical Center in 1995 on

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Revolver goes for $400 at auction CLINTON — Selling in two locations on June 21 proved to be a winner. I was selling in the first location with my son Jon and we had a strong bidding crowd. The second location had Jeff Lohr and Bill McWilliams holding firm with a nice crowd of bidder

    July 19, 2014

  • Sawmill New event cruises into Clinton CLINTON — Three Gateway-area locations are joining together in August for a river heritage event.The event will be held Aug. 3 and will feature a Blue Heron river cruise, a Sawmill Museum tour and a de Immigrant Windmill tour in Fulton, Illinois. The

    July 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Minnick Ashford director appointed to commission CLINTON —The Ashford University campus director has been appointed to a volunteer commission.Charlie Minnick, vice president/campus director of Ashford University, has been appointed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Ser

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Summer lunch menus (July 21 to 25)

    Summer lunch menus at Jefferson and Bluff Elementary Schools, and Generations Area Agency on Aging

    July 17, 2014

  • Ax throw, log climb at Adirondack lumberjack class PAUL SMITHS, N.Y. — Ax throwing is encouraged in lumberjack class. It’s also OK to dump your classmate in the lake — as long as you’re both frantically trying to stay upright on a floating log.The annual Adirondack Woodsmen’s School is being held thi

    July 17, 2014

  • Locally-grown foods look to bigger business

    Once a niche business, locally grown foods aren't just for farmers markets anymore.

    July 16, 2014

  • What happens to your online accounts when you die?

    You've probably decided who gets the house or that family heirloom up in the attic when you die. But what about your email account and all those photos stored online?

    July 16, 2014

Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

Yes
No
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.