Thursday, November 01, 2007

NT children 'becoming human', unlike autistics

I just sent the following e-mail to CBC, regarding a radio interview on the same topic as this article.

"I was shocked this morning to hear a man on the radio, in discussing early diagnosis of autism, say that parents should watch for their child 'developing into a human being'. Why is such prejudiced language acceptable. Firstly, it is prejudiced towards children. You cannot become what you already are, so your guest speaker was basically saying children aren't human - they must become human. Secondly, he was saying that not only are autistic children not human, they, unlike normal chidren, will never become human. When David Aheniquew (sp?) said the Nazis were doing a good thing by trying to get rid of Jews, everyone was shocked and appalled - if I recall, he may even have been charged with hate crimes. Why are children and autistic people not afforded similar respect? Since most people think being human means being worthy of respect, calling any human being non-human is not only biologically innaccurate but prejudiced. Yet your guest speaker said that autistics and children aren't human, and the interviewer didn't even comment.On the subject of early diagnosis, ideally I'd support it but with the state of our society right now, I say just leave them be. I'm glad my own autism wasn't diagnosed until I was 15 - by then, I was able to self-advocate and no one could force me to try to become someone I'm not (that's what autism treatment is - like aversion therapy for gays)."

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Blogger Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

I, too, find this kind of comment shocking. Sadly, I can no longer say that I find the sentiment behind it to be at all surprising.

As a deaf person I have been discounted and discriminated against in various ways, though I am fortunate in that apparently I do still at least count as "human" by most people's standards. Perhaps in part because I can speak and lip read moderately well. For some reason, hearing allistic people seem to put high value on fluent speech.

I know you've read Amanda Bagg's blog backwards and forward so you already know about her great video, "Being an Unperson." But I put the link here anyway in case there is anyone else reading this who hasn't seen it already--it seems to relate.


7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How sad! One day, people like this will be charged with hate crimes as well. People may seem to understand that it's never okay to discriminate against Jewish people, but they still think it's okay to discriminate autistic people. After all, their teachers rarely (if ever) told them anything about autistics. They learned most of the info from the media, or they assumed that all the people in special ed are "retarded" and will never achieve anything.

Thank goodness I once had a cool teacher who was willing to explain my autism in a positive manner, helping to reduce bullying and increase understanding. I hope she is still teaching her students about these such less obvious diversitis, even if they don't apply to her students.

9:42 AM  

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