A Response to Eileen Lamb’s Article “Autism and the Dangers of the Neurodiversity Movement“31 min read

This article is long. It used to be longer. The orig­inal intro is now its own article exploring the divi­sion between neu­ro­di­ver­sity advo­cates and everyone else. It can be viewed by clicking here.

Instead of pointing fin­gers at anyone or laying blame any­where, this article has one aim: to demon­strate how autistic people would read Eileen Lamb’s article. The author of this article is listed as “The Aspergian.” We have over 100 con­trib­u­tors, and behind the scenes, we have dis­cussed this article at length.

While we cer­tainly don’t speak for all autistic people, we are a very rep­re­sen­ta­tive sample of people at all points on the spec­trum. So, while there are going to be a few autistic people who will dis­agree with this article, the com­ments will likely indi­cate how the vast majority of autistic people would react to Lamb’s, “Autism and the Dangers of the Neurodiversity Movement.”

It Begins…

Before Lamb even starts into her article, there’s a plug for her upcoming book.  Autistic people are already going to be reacting with sus­pi­cion to this because if someone is selling some­thing, then they have a motive.

Information-sharing and facts are sacred to us. If you’ll notice, there are no ads on the Aspergian. We sell no mer­chan­dise. There are no fees to access our mate­rials. Our con­trib­u­tors are vol­un­teers. There’s a reason for this, and it’s prob­ably a major con­tributing factor to why 85% of autis­tics with at least a 4 year uni­ver­sity degree are unem­ployed.

We are not sales­people in per­son­ality so much as we are sci­en­tists. We like to present the infor­ma­tion and have it stand on its own.

A person who will sell some­thing under the head­line of a sen­sa­tion­al­ized title related to an extremely vul­ner­able pop­u­la­tion is already someone autistic people don’t trust.  We are crit­ical thinkers. We have to know why someone does some­thing.

Exploitation is a car­dinal offense which is dra­mat­i­cally against our neu­rology and our values. The “aut” in autistic has the same root as “autonomy” for a reason. We value per­sonal autonomy and pri­vacy highly, and that goes for all per­sons, no matter the age or ability level.

Our neu­rotyp­ical par­ents, teachers, and employers don’t always love our reluc­tance to per­ceive or respect ranks. This con­trast is one way neu­rotyp­ical and autistic par­ents tend to differ in par­enting styles and philoso­phies.

Because we’re not as pre­dis­posed to social ranks, it’s not as impor­tant to autis­tics for our chil­dren to be “normal.” Overwhelmingly, we embrace dif­fer­ence and value it. We like dif­fer­ences.

A Massively-Relevant Disclaimer:

Autistic people are hard on each other. We aren’t polite and don’t sug­ar­coat so much in the insider com­mu­nity. Our com­mu­ni­ca­tion styles are intim­i­dating to neu­rotyp­i­cals, so we change our approach and try to soften our speech for them.

But when we con­front each other, there is little instinct to be polite.

And the world com­pares autistic people. We are rare in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, so the whole of us are judged by the actions of whichever autistic person someone knows. Because of this, we tend to be ruth­less about keeping each other right­eous.

Lamb knows this.

So, let’s break down Lamb’s article a piece at a time:

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while but didn’t. I couldn’t. Partially because I was scared of the back­lash, par­tially because this topic makes me feel deep emo­tions that I don’t like dealing with — from feeling angry to sad and every­thing in between. Today I want to shed some light on the dan­gers of the neu­ro­di­ver­sity move­ment.

-Eileen, the writer of con­tro­versy

“Scared of the backlash”

This is not lan­guage that is nat­ural to autis­tics. It sets off alarm bells to us. We do not pri­or­i­tize our own emo­tions over logic, and we don’t talk about our emo­tions in the same way as neu­rotyp­i­cals. If we do, we’re acting.

We talk about what is fair and just instead of the emo­tional col­lat­eral of some­thing.

This seems like lan­guage that isn’t ours. It’s not relat­able to us. It’s one reason that we often are mis­in­ter­preted by non-autistic people as being unfeeling or ratio­nal­izing. We feel intensely, but our values come before those emo­tions.

We also don’t gen­er­alize like this.  A move­ment is not an orga­ni­za­tion with a set of guiding prin­ci­ples.  It’s a direc­tion towards a goal that many people want to see happen. The indi­vid­uals par­tic­i­pating in a move­ment are not rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the move­ment.

Also, to be “scared” of autistic people is very against autistic values, too.  Autistic people are under extreme threat, and being talked to harshly on the internet is not high on the list.  Other autistic people are not our ene­mies.  People period aren’t our ene­mies.  Principles and prac­tices, sys­tems and insti­tu­tions are our ene­mies.

Lamb then posts a series of Twitter mes­sages from autistic people.  Most of the com­ments are noble. Some are a bit cringe-worthy.

“He’s a human being.  You’re grotesque.”

“It makes you a hor­rible parent if your autistic kid knows you’re grieving for a non-autistic child you never had.”

If you hear about child abuse, rape, or murder, you prob­ably feel extreme ways about the person who com­mitted those offenses. To autistic people, regarding your autistic child as a dis­ap­point­ment or someone to grieve, exploiting their autism for emo­tional val­i­da­tion or product place­ment, and sharing the dehu­man­izing details par­ents often share about autistic chil­dren is a car­dinal offense.

A lot of autistic adults, prob­ably the majority, can tell you what it was like to be the scape­goat child and the dis­ap­point­ment in a family of non-autistics– which is why we are so intent on helping par­ents to not make those same mis­takes.

Making Money from Autism by Exploiting… Everyone

Autistic people know that most neu­rotyp­i­cals see autism as a tragedy, and that’s unfor­tu­nate. Autism is only a tragedy in tragic con­texts.

In many con­texts, it’s an asset and a bliss. In the autistic com­mu­nity, our rela­tion­ships are formed quickly, they are pro­found without any layers of social plastic, and we love and con­nect intensely. We are instant family.

The reason this hap­pens is we have been on the other side of the world, iso­lated, where no one under­stands us and where traits that are prized and valued in our com­mu­nity are seen as deficits and mourned in the broader world.  We relate, and that’s rare before we find our way into the com­mu­nity.

We know, better than anyone, how it feels when family mem­bers aren’t relating and bonding in a nat­ural way with their autistic loved ones.  For allis­tics to relate requires them to go uncom­fort­ably against their neu­rology and do things that feel counter-intuitive. To a neu­rotyp­ical person, not making eye con­tact and not ver­bal­izing emo­tions or cud­dling feels like a failure to con­nect.

Conversely, to an autistic person, forcing eye con­tact feels like agreeing to be someone else in order to make others feel com­fort­able.  Autistic people feel hope­lessly sad when others fail to under­stand the deep emo­tional con­nec­tion and rel­e­vance of their spe­cial inter­ests and how those things serve as com­plex metaphors for some­thing deeper.  Those state­ments of fact don’t have spoken emo­tion in them, but it’s implied and pro­vides a con­text to dis­cuss the abstract and find the pat­terns in human behavior and expe­ri­ence.

Autistic people badly want to help non-autistic people under­stand their chil­dren. It’s lit­er­ally of life-and-death impor­tance and will increase the hap­pi­ness of par­ents and their chil­dren.

But, autistic people com­mu­ni­cate with inten­sity.  They get frus­trated by needing to say the same things over and over.  They’re trau­ma­tized. They don’t want to repeat what par­ents should (in autistic per­spec­tives) already know: that autistic people are not broken neu­rotyp­i­cals.  They’re dif­ferent alto­gether in many ways, and that’s okay.  It has to be.

Eileen Lamb knows this.  She knows at a sophis­ti­cated level of nuance exactly why neu­rotyp­ical par­ents grieve and exactly what they want to hear.  She also knows at a sophis­ti­cated level of nuance exactly why autistic people are so des­perate to be heard and are so pas­sion­ately intense.

And she knows how to pro­voke autis­tics with just the right words to elicit an emo­tional response from them.  This whole article is a com­pendium of that. She also is fully aware that neu­rotyp­ical people don’t under­stand or know about the com­plex­i­ties and the work of the autistic com­mu­nity to make strides in accep­tance and human rights for autis­tics.

So, she speaks the lan­guage of the neurotypical.She exploits them, too. She sends the mes­sage, “I’m a mommy like you, just a little awk­ward, and I’m autistic. Everything you’re saying is okay. Those autistic activists are crazy and mean bul­lies. Keep doing what you’re doing, and while you’re at it, buy this product from my spon­sors.”

The point: Autistic people don’t believe Eileen— or any autistic person— feels they can’t com­mu­ni­cate non-verbally with another autistic person. We can.

And the right thing to do is teach non-autistic par­ents how to speak the lan­guage of their autistic chil­dren.

Buy This Product from my Sponsors

Eileen Lamb is a brand.  She’s a busi­ness, man­aged by Shine Influencers.

She adver­tises prod­ucts in the guise of per­sonal blogs… like her book which is sched­uled to come out soon.

Or Ball mason jars, the Portal from Facebook, Maty’s nat­ural health drinks, or Vibes ear plugs.  If it’s rel­e­vant to the product, she starts her blogs with some­thing like, “I’m a mother to a severely autistic child.”  

Then, she uses her son’s pri­vate strug­gles to sell prod­ucts like the Goally sched­uling device to pair with ABA therapy and the Vibes ear plugs. To even men­tion her son, to us, feels like a dis­ser­vice to her child and a vio­la­tion of his pri­vacy.

In one blog, she talks about potty training her “severely autistic” son, about whom she dis­closes that he still occa­sion­ally pees him­self and wets the bed.  This blog is to sell Conni’s water­proof bed pads and training pants. She pho­tographs her six year old son in his training under­wear for the blog.

To autistic people, many of whom as college-educated adults still some­times expe­ri­ence occa­sional incon­ti­nence, this is uncon­scionable.

It’s a pri­vate and embar­rassing med­ical con­di­tion asso­ci­ated with sen­sory pro­cessing dis­order. What is going to happen when his school-aged peers see that he’s been wet­ting the bed or wearing potty training under­wear? How will he feel about this when he’s an adult?

And autistic people are harder on Lamb because she says she is autistic.  She knows what she does is extremely offen­sive to autistic values and that autistic people find it harmful.  Instead of course-correcting, though, she found a way to mon­e­tize the con­flicts between autistic people and neu­rotyp­i­cals by using her­self as con­fir­ma­tion bias.  “If Eileen Lamb the autistic person says it’s okay, then it must be okay.”

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It’s not okay.

But moving along…

What’s the Neurodiversity Movement?

Lamb’s next por­tion of her article asks what the neu­ro­di­ver­sity move­ment is.  Here’s a quote from the blog:

What is this thing, you may ask? At first glance it seems like a good idea. Autistic indi­vid­uals fighting to get autism rec­og­nized as some­thing to not be ashamed of, fighting for autis­tics to not be seen as less-than and not bul­lied. Cool, right? Of course. I’m all for that. Charlie, me, and all autistic people, we are just as cool and worthy of being loved and respected as anyone else.

Autistic people are rolling their eyes at this point.  We know what’s coming next.

Here’s where it gets tricky: the majority neu­ro­di­ver­sity pro­po­nents that you can find under the hashtag #ActuallyAutistic are extrem­ists. Not only are their views on autism harmful, but the vocal ones, in my expe­ri­ence, have been very vicious, and con­stantly attack autism-parents and autistic adults who dis­agree with them on social media. I’d go as far as to call it harass­ment in many instances. But here, I’ll try to go through each of their argu­ments sep­a­rately.

What the hell?

#ActuallyAutistic is a way of sig­naling on social media that you are actu­ally autistic. That is lit­er­ally all it means.

To claim that the majority of autistic people using that hashtag are extrem­ists is to say that autis­tics are mostly rad­ical bul­lies. She has estab­lished her­self as the safe, relat­able autistic woman, to attempt to bias par­ents and loved ones of autistic people to not trust or listen to other autistic adults (and teens). She painted autistic people as mon­sters.

We’re not.

“The vocal ones”? You mean the ones trying hardest to make things better for people with dis­abil­i­ties?

Autistic people do not “con­stantly attack” people who dis­agree with them on social media. It’s fair to say many of us are blunt, but our “attacks” are not attacks on people, they’re attacks on oppres­sion. Sometimes, people are oppres­sive, and they get called out in all manner of col­orful lan­guage. Eileen Lamb hears from autistic people all the time because she is pur­pose­fully provoca­tive.

Most of us at the Aspergian had never heard of Eileen Lamb until she called out one of our con­trib­u­tors.  So, we responded to her article on Twitter.

aspergian

This got us banned. But, the people she’s swearing at and pro­voking to swearing aren’t being banned. This is because she needs more fodder for her screen­shot col­lec­tion, we pre­sume.

What’s ironic is that she’s the dog whistler for the Autistic Dark Web (ADW), a very small, very radical/extremist group of people who claim to be autistic and some par­ents of autistic chil­dren.

ADW is widely-regarded as a hate group. They relent­lessly attack and troll autistic people on social media, espe­cially those who are vul­ner­able. They dis­cuss wom­en’s looks, pro­mote incel ide­ology, and are alt-right extrem­ists in beliefs.

Some of Lamb’s most ded­i­cated fol­lowers are among their ranks.  Here are some screen­shots from the Autistic Dark Web, since she is so against trolls and vile online com­ments from bul­lies…

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neurotypical bullshit
adw2

Eugenics, much?  Then there’s this little nugget to someone Eileen Lamb Tweeted today:

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But you blocked The Aspergian on Twitter, Eileen.

Then, Eileen makes a post on her page with screen­shots of the “attacks” against her.  It’s mind-boggling what she finds to be attacks:

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Well… yeah.  Those aren’t attacks.  Attacks are not reac­tions. Attacks are first strikes. Attacks are against a person, not against beliefs or actions. Someone needs to teach Eileen the dif­fer­ence between attacks and responses. Eileen is the attacker.

Those are benev­o­lent truths.

Autistic people know the con­se­quences of what hap­pens when par­ents don’t better under­stand their chil­dren’s behav­iors and com­mu­ni­ca­tion styles (even non-verbal com­mu­ni­ca­tion). The Aspergian hears from par­ents all the time who are lamenting that they wished they had the infor­ma­tion we share when their chil­dren were younger, and they feel ter­rible about their choices. Sometimes, it’s too late, and their chil­dren are per­ma­nently estranged or no longer living.

We want to help.  Desperately.  This is why we’re so pas­sionate… because we have seen a big pic­ture that isn’t pretty, and we want to save as many people from those real­i­ties as pos­sible.

Here are some quotes from some non-autistic par­ents and loved ones about how learning from autistic people helped them relate to their loved ones:

I found it really helpful to read per­spec­tives from autistic adults because they are able to describe the kinds of expe­ri­ences my son has in a much clearer way than a child can. He is still fig­uring life out and has needs but isn’t always able to describe his feel­ings or know what he needs to help in a sit­u­a­tion. Adults who have had lots of time to learn about them­selves can give a lot of really helpful ideas about sup­ports. Also I can learn from others’ expe­ri­ences and try not to repeat the mis­takes of pre­vious gen­er­a­tions.

-Lisa Rose, mom to 10 year old autistic son, USA

I feel more con­fi­dent as a parent because of the feed­back I’ve gotten from autistic adults. I was able to let go of the fear mon­gering and “doom and gloom” mindset that I felt in the early stages. Too many pro­fes­sionals made me feel like there wasn’t hope for the future, autistic adults changed that.

-Holly, 30, mother to 5 year old autistic son

I reached out to autistic adults for assis­tance with my recently-diagnosed 2.5 year old. He stims by hit­ting his head, and since we live in an apart­ment, our down­stairs neighbor was com­plaining about the noise. It is also hard to watch your child hit his head that hard to go to sleep or deal with too much sen­sory input. Autistic adults were able to give me sim­ilar stims to redi­rect him instead of head-banging. He now swings in a quilt and asks for that instead of banging his head. Without the help of autistic people, I don’t know if we would have found a safe way to redi­rect his head-banging so quickly. The mem­bers under­stood why he did it and knew what sub­sti­tutes may be best instead of trying a mil­lion dif­ferent things rec­om­mended by his ther­a­pists, who are great but don’t always have the same insight.

‑Samantha, mom to a 2 year old autistic son, USA

My son has autism with PDA (patho­log­ical demand avoid­ance).  I totally had to learn a new way of thinking: reducing demands, how I worded things (I tended to use a lot of idioms)… Could what I say be mis­in­ter­preted? Use of humour.
When his anx­iety was building up, how could I bring it down!?
Learnt a new lan­guage with words like pro­pre­cep­tion, inter­cep­tion, and synes­thesia.
My son (9yrs) and I are trying to work things together. I make mis­takes still, but I apol­o­gise imme­di­ately. We try and follow a peaceful par­enting approach.
I’ve learnt that he needs to know he’s loved, espe­cially as he had a hard time at school. We home edu­cate as he can’t cope in main­stream and the SEN schools in our area don’t really get PDA.

-Eirlys, Cheshire mum of a 9yr old autistic PDAer

I looked to autistic adults for insight when I real­ized how much they under­stood and related to my kids. I wanted to under­stand like they did. I have learned so much to help my kids. What I wasn’t expecting was how much my per­spec­tive changed, which is way more than I was looking for or expecting. Life-changing. Very thankful!

‑Nanci, California, USA. Mom to 2 amazing autis­tics, ages 17 and 21

As a child I could see someone in dis­tress, I would sit with them qui­etly until they could let me know what they needed. My autistic brother taught me this. I gained a better rela­tion­ship with my brother as a child sit­ting and playing a foot­ball man­ager game that I had no interest in than any other activ­i­ties. I learnt to meet people where they were to build a con­nec­tion, and that is such a valu­able skill for life. My brother who was resigned by pro­fes­sionals to needing to be insti­tu­tion­alised for life influ­enced so much of my life and has gone on to live a very full life of his own. I went on to work with autistic people, I built great rela­tion­ships because I lis­tened to them and they to me. Respect doesn’t cost any­thing, it shouldn’t be lost because of a stereo­type or a label. My own autistic child has grown up in open dis­cus­sions, he’s been enabled because I’ve asked the ques­tions, lis­tened to the answers no matter how it’s been com­mu­ni­cated and I con­tinue to listen to autistic voices because they’re impor­tant, because they come from expe­ri­ence, because a per­son’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion is valu­able to human con­nec­tion. Why wouldn’t you want a con­nec­tion with someone who sees the world dif­fer­ently from you?

For every parent who has bat­tled with a child’s tantrums or melt­downs, no matter their neu­rology, for every pro­fes­sional who has seen someone strug­gling and won­dered how to help, for every person who has a problem and can’t find an answer, for every walk of life there is a lesson to be learnt. Learn how to listen, learn how to be there without imposing, learn patience, learn valu­able life skills.

‑Sally, UK

I’ve always believed kids were worth lis­tening to, but hearing how dif­fer­ently autistic people expe­ri­ence the world made me know that in order to be a good mom, I have to listen to how my son expe­ri­ences the world. Otherwise, I can’t help him with his spe­cific strug­gles or make him feel sup­ported. Also, I REALLY appre­ciate the autistic people who explained why ABA isn’t good.

-Dee, mom to an autistic son, USA

I was intro­duced to [ a social media group ] as mother with a four year old who was recently diag­nosed as autistic. The “experts” strongly sug­gested ABA therapy, as it may be the dif­fer­ence between my son ever having his inde­pen­dence or not. I was, of course, blindly chasing ABA therapy. Autistic adults have given me another per­spec­tive, the one that will prob­ably most closely match how my son will feel in 10, 15, or 20 years– a per­spec­tive that encour­aged me to use my own crit­ical thinking and logic. A per­spec­tive that may have saved my rela­tion­ship with my son, his own self-esteem, and my pride as a mother. While some­times it is hard, I always want to believe I know what is best for my chil­dren, I have learned so much about par­enting my son. And I learned from people who didn’t study a book, but actu­ally walked the road my son is on, and they are advo­cating for him to have better than they have had them­selves.

-Lacey S., mother of an autistic son, Oregon, USA

You get the point… hope­fully, you also get the point that non-autistic par­ents are allowed to talk about autism.

Moving along with Eileen’s blog… she goes into a list of things neu­ro­di­ver­sity pro­po­nents believe.  I’ll quote them if you can stomach it.

“Parents shouldn’t be allowed to speak about autism.”

-said no neu­ro­di­ver­sity advo­cate ever, at least none that our mem­bers have ever heard.  Let’s see how many times people have said that…

charlatan

So, one person said that, and it was Eileen Lamb.

Then, Lamb goes on to cite one of our con­trib­u­tors, Christa Holmans (also known as NeuroDivergent Rebel) after Eileen has claimed autis­tics are hos­tile and exclude people who “express any morsel of neg­a­tivity about autism,” deeming them “martyr moms.”

The thing is, martyr moms are defined in Christa’s post, which Eileen screen­shots.  Does Eileen really think her readers can’t read? Is Eileen cashing in on the fact that people will just blindly believe her accu­sa­tions when she lit­er­ally posts evi­dence which demon­strates the oppo­site of what she claims? Here it is:

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It doesn’t take a gestalt leap to see why this would offend Eileen.

As long as a mom doesn’t build her whole iden­tity around her child’s autism, then she’s not a martyr mom. In fact, Christa has started groups for neu­rotyp­ical allies.

But Eileen proudly hash­tags #mar­tyrmom on social media. She also hash­tags #NDcult. She paints neu­ro­di­ver­sity pro­po­nents (NDs and NTs) as a cult. Classy, Eileen.

Let’s look at some traits of cult leaders:

  1. Garners a fol­lowing by encour­aging rebel­lion against an estab­lished group by vil­lainizing the estab­lished group
  2. Exploits others for money or sym­pathy
  3. Manages cult fol­lowing by playing a victim
  4. Hypersensitive about man­aging how others see them/their image or public per­sona
  5. Feels enti­tled to praise and sym­pathy
  6. Becomes angry and insulting when chal­lenged; exiles or outcasts/punishes those who chal­lenge them
  7. Hypersensitive to crit­i­cism
  8. Theatrical and hyper­bolic to estab­lish self as the center of atten­tion
  9. Communication is one-way and does not listen to or respect others’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion
  10. Makes an enemy out of those who crit­i­cize
  11. Ranks people as supe­rior and infe­rior and denies those deemed infe­rior a voice or autonomy
  12. Closely mon­i­tors com­mu­ni­ca­tions and man­ages public infor­ma­tion
  13. Uses plat­form to advance an agenda
  14. Uses agenda to advance power/money
  15. Is expert at playing the martyr to solidify a fol­lowing
  16. Isolates the group from the main­stream
  17. Makes self appear dif­ferent from others like an accept­able “everyman”
  18. Uses syco­phants and “fans” to do their dirty work
  19. Tailors lead­er­ship to draw in people with low self-esteem or those who are vul­ner­able
  20. Promotes an us v/s them men­tality and insists that others started the “fight”
  21. Shows love and affec­tion to those who most strongly sup­port them.
  22. Distorts facts and truths to create a nar­ra­tive of vic­tim­hood.
  23. Provides mem­bers with the illu­sion that they are doing every­thing right and only there will they be val­i­dated.
  24. Creates a belief system that is employs exploita­tion and con­fir­ma­tion bias of the prej­u­dices, inse­cu­ri­ties, and fears of fol­lowers
  25. Does not accept respon­si­bility or only issues passive-aggressive apolo­gies

Her second point:

“Severe autism doesn’t exist.”

We have a ton of arti­cles about this already, but the best place to start if you want to learn why autis­tics counter the word “severe” is this article about what the spec­trum really means. Eileen knows about autism and that it’s a lot more com­pli­cated than being verbal or not, but she banks on (pun intended, as in ‘makes money from’) the fact that most non-autistic people don’t under­stand what autistic neu­rology really means.

She is using her son as an ambas­sador of dif­fi­culty and proof that autistic people can be severe because they can’t care for them­selves– and he’s what, six years old?

Eileen says, repeat­edly, that Charlie can’t com­mu­ni­cate at all.  This really bothers autis­tics because everyone com­mu­ni­cates.  There are an infi­nite number of ways to com­mu­ni­cate which don’t require words. Our con­trib­u­tors can tell you about some of those ways.

59698692_280942742787604_6395505512640675840_n

Note, non-autistic mothers, that @ClearAutism is not autistic. That is a neu­rotyp­ical mother of an autistic child. Autistic people love her, too. Lamb is the one who makes an enemy out of people who dis­agree.

Yet, in lots of her blogs, Lamb describes Charlie com­mu­ni­cating just fine. When he repeats words his dad tells him to say, he gets excited and claps. That’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The frus­tra­tion and melt­downs he expe­ri­ences that she puts on blast… that’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion, too.

Lamb has since deleted that inter­change, though.  Presumably because it would look bad for this reason:

martyr

She’s engi­neered quite a dra­matic, sen­sa­tion­al­ized saga of vic­tim­hood vs bully. And, she sure knows how to get atten­tion. She wants WaPo to adver­tise her book, too…

But, she men­tions ABA so many times, The Aspergian is begin­ning to wonder if she is spon­sored by an ABA provider.  There sure are a lot of ABA ser­vices and behavior ana­lysts sharing her posts…

We know that she ties in ABA with prod­ucts she ped­dles on her blog, but is her motive to throw that key­word in there just for search engine opti­miza­tion, or she is in bed with fac­tions of the multi-billion dollar world­wide ABA monopoly?

We also believe that @ABA4ALL_UK is a front for Autistic Dark Web. Look how they talk to autistic par­ents:

We’ve put out a request for infor­ma­tion from her employer, Shine Influencers, but haven’t yet heard back. So, we’ve filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Trade Commission. We’ll let you know some­thing as soon as we know some­thing.

Eileen’s next point:

“Autism is not a disability, it’s a gift.”

They don’t see autism as a dis­ability so they don’t see a need for med­ical research, therapy, or a cure. Totally their choice. If there were a cure, I’d take it for myself. I’m high-functioning, but autism affects me in ways that hinder my own hap­pi­ness. ND activists call people in favor of a cure ableist, eugenists, [sic] and nazis. [sic] They fail to realize that for many autis­tics, autism is a severe impair­ment. There are many autis­tics with self-injurious behav­iors, no way of com­mu­ni­cating (whether verbal or non-verbal), and no self-care abil­i­ties. For these people, the chances of living an inde­pen­dent life are close to 0. The #ActuallyAutistic [sic] speak from a place of priv­i­lege of being able to speak about their views online. Some see autism as both a dif­fer­ence and a dis­ability.

-Eileen Lamb, the new Karen

I have never met someone who says that autism isn’t a dis­ability at least some of the time.  They say that it is a dif­fer­ence and not a “dis­ease.”  Because– it’s not a dis­ease. It’s often a dis­ability, espe­cially depending on the envi­ron­ment and demands an autistic person has to meet.

Neurodivergence is how some­one’s brain is wired.  Some parts are more devel­oped and some are less devel­oped than a typ­ical brain.  Some parts are more con­nected, some are less.  Some things are processed in dif­ferent parts of the brain for autistic people. This pro­duces a dif­ferent pro­file of the brain with dif­ferent strengths and weak­nesses from the majority.

A cure would mean that someone is able to re-wire a brain and to cause some cor­tices to be more devel­oped and some to be less devel­oped.  Look at this graphic demon­strating lan­guage pro­cessing dif­fer­ences in two sub­types of autism:

See how the brain on the left (Factors 15 and 33) is pro­cessing lan­guage in the upper right quad­rants? How would one “cure” this person, since that’s a fun­da­mental trait of his or her autism?  Damage the right brain?  Remove that cortex and implant it in the left?  See how, again on the left (Factor 15) there is no con­nec­tivity on the two left quad­rants?

How does one “cure” that, or why even would they want to?  People with brains like this are often pro­lific writers.  There can be ben­e­fits to having lim­ited or no con­nec­tivity for some processes and tasks.  It means simul­ta­ne­ously pro­cessing infor­ma­tion in dif­ferent parts of the brain in dif­ferent ways.  It’s a whole dif­ferent way to exist from the norm, but it is isn’t always neg­a­tive.

See how absurd the “cure” talk is?  One doesn’t need to be a sci­en­tist to under­stand that brains cannot be “cured” of their way of func­tion.

People with neu­ro­di­ver­gent brains are valu­able to society.  Extremely.  They always have been. Autistics were respon­sible for some of human­i­ty’s greatest inven­tions, art, lit­er­a­ture, music, and inno­va­tions. 

These dif­fer­ences are dis­abling in some con­texts and assets in others.  But, there is a zero per­cent chance that a neu­ro­di­ver­gent per­son’s brain can be rearranged, re-connected, and differently-developed.  Even if this were pos­sible, it would change that per­son’s core self.

So, the neu­ro­di­ver­sity move­ment is about asking people to accept these dif­fer­ences and to embrace the pos­i­tives and accom­mo­date the neg­a­tives.  Sometimes, as with any dis­ability, the impact these dif­fer­ences has on a person is dev­as­tating; often, the dev­as­ta­tion is more a result of intol­er­ance than of any nat­ural deficit. 

If a neu­ro­di­verse person expe­ri­ences pain and over­stim­u­la­tion from flo­res­cent lights, then it is a simple fix to change the lights to LED.  Environments are easier to rearrange and change than brains. It should be easier to change per­spec­tives and expec­ta­tions than it is to re-form a per­son’s lit­eral brain.

“You can’t love your child if you don’t like autism.”

This is Eileen’s next point.

I really wish people under­stood that you can be sad about your child being severely dis­abled and still love him with every fiber of your being. Hélas, they don’t. I love Charlie so much, and everyone who knows me know that is true. But if I could take his pain away, and give me a way to com­mu­ni­cate, I’d do it in heart­beat. I hate autism often. My autism. And Charlie’s autism. It’s fine if you like your autism but don’t attack people who don’t.

-Eileen who hates her autism

Strawman Eileen is at it again. She missed her calling with Hallmark cards (next sponsor?). No one sane has a problem with someone being upset when his or her child suf­fers. It’s lamenting and grieving, in a public way, that you didn’t get the child you wanted that is a problem.

Wishing to remove some­one’s autism is wishing to remove their core self. It’s not sep­a­rable. Removing some­one’s arms and legs is not removing their iden­tity or self or per­son­ality. Removing their gall bladder, a kidney, and a lung will not remove their core self. A heart trans­plant does not change some­one’s core self.

To remove some­one’s autism, you would have to remove their brain. Since that isn’t pos­sible, making a living or social struc­ture cen­tered around com­plaining about someone else’s dis­ability and how it impacts you is– well, just wrong.

“ABA therapy is torture.”

True dat, Eileen.

We have some arti­cles on ABA. You can read them here and here. We really don’t need to rein­vent that wheel.

But, she goes on to say:

There are more issues about which I dis­agree with them. For instance they think the puzzle piece symbol is harmful, as well as func­tioning labels and the ter­mi­nology “person with autism.” Basically, they’re mad at the world, and bully everyone who dis­agrees with them.

-Eileen the insti­gator

Ya’ll, seri­ously. This lit­er­ally is hilar­ious, like she is writing a parody. She has put every single talking point here to drum up as much drama and har­vest as many screen­shots as she can. Is someone paying her for them?

Autistics bully people for dis­agreeing with them? I could have sworn that I’ve read a good couple hun­dred arti­cles about how much more often autis­tics are bul­lied than neu­rotyp­i­cals… but Eileen isn’t con­cerned with facts.

Please share. It’s time to speak up for those who can’t!

This is Eileen’s last sub­heading. She implores her audi­ence to share. What autis­tics see:

Please share. It’s time to make autistics mad so I can sell more books and sponsored products to gullible neurotypical parents!

She closes with this, like an altar call from a fiery tel­e­van­ge­list [with autistic inter­pre­ta­tions in bold]:

I know it sucks and you may be afraid of reper­cus­sions, [you may be afraid blunt people will dis­agree with you] but if you agree that autism is a dis­ability [that’s all of us, Eileen], if you agree that severe autism exists, [I’m severe AF, Eileen] if you agree that ABA therapy is useful [for casinos and adver­tise­ments] and not abu­sive, and that par­ents should be allowed to speak about autism, then share [pro­mote my book for me]. While people who know about autism under­stands that #ActuallyAutistic views com­prise a minority, the rest of the pop­u­la­tion doesn’t because the #ActuallyAutisitc’s [sic] voices are so loud. [HELL YEAH!] We take the risk that autism will be mis­rep­re­sented and mis­un­der­stood even more than it is now. [Wait… autism will be mis­rep­re­sented by autistic folk? You need to enlist non-autistic majori­ties to help you rep­re­sent autism? What the hell kind of sense does that make?] Severe autism exists. I see it everyday.

Let’s over­power this dan­gerous neu­ro­di­ver­sity move­ment. [Overpower autistic people? Too late, there, Eileen… we wouldn’t need a move­ment if we had more power. Dangerous to what? Your ego? Book sales? Pee pad sales?] I know we are a silent majority [A SILENT MAJORITY!?!? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY MAKING THE MAJORITY OUT TO BE THE VICTIMS, CULTY McCULTERSON?] but because of the bul­lying the #ActuallyAutistic com­mu­nity is putting us through, many of you have chosen to stay quiet. I get it, guys. I do. [ Read: you’re easy bait for me if I pre­tend to give you emo­tional val­i­da­tion. Free pub­licity! ] It’s hard to get insulted online. [So, so hard…] It affects me too, but we’ve entered a vicious cycle. We need to speak up. I need you. Autistics who don’t have the luxury to speak or express them­selves on social media need you. [Be the hero for people who never asked you to be the hero, because my luxury hotel spon­sor­ships depend on it.]  You’ve got this. We can do this together. Speak up!

Real Talk

And, she fin­ishes with some links from her syco­phants, the hate group that is the Autistic Dark Web…

Make no mis­take, the ADW is attempting to use their diminu­tive num­bers to upend the neu­ro­di­ver­sity move­ment. Eileen pub­lishes three incen­diary arti­cles on three hot button topics in three days to whip up a frenzy of a pub­licity stunt. They’re working hard at it, bless their hearts.

Autistic people and their allies are feeling unsafe right now and afraid to use social media because of these people.

So, Eileen… from The Aspergian, you are offi­cially the new Karen.

If you’re being harassed by the Autistic Dark Web, please con­tact The Aspergian. We are just get­ting started with this story.

The Aspergian
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22 Comments

  1. This was a great read, espe­cially after first checking out the article you’re responding to. I admit the way you decon­struct her talking points and I learnt a lot about an online world I’ve been thank­fully out of touch with until now.

  2. I love my tribe! I espe­cially appre­ciate the way you break down what a cure for autism would mean for the *autistic person.* People clearly did not con­sume enough sci-fi lit­er­a­ture as chil­dren.

    There are so many other great points here, I’ll be using this for work, with proper cita­tion of course.

    1. Thank you so much, spierce­rocks! Let us know how it goes when you share it!

  3. Just one example of hypocrisies I read in the article:
    you claim that some text is “not an attack,” yet the line imme­di­ately pre­ceding(!) your this claim is a lit­er­ally an attack calling someone’s heart “imma­ture and self-centered.”
    You guys are giving a lot of power to this Eileen person by writing this absolute tome about her.

    1. No one claimed this article wasn’t an attack, Steve. 🙂 Eileen Lamb has vast power and is a pow­erful voice for the Autistic Dark Web. Attacking her ideas is para­mount, as ignoring them won’t make them “go away”.

  4. Her heart imma­ture and selfish. Her words and actions speak for them­selves.

  5. “Never wrestle with a pig. All that comes of it is, you get dirty, and the pig likes it.”

    Your cause would be better served by writing a clear and con­cise article that argues ratio­nally against the prin­ci­ples she espouses. This “he said/she said” format con­tinues to let her be the one dri­ving the nar­ra­tive, it’s coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to how you want the Neurodiversity move­ment to be seen if you’re trying to increase sup­port. Your cause is sup­posed to be bigger than that. Show it. Twitterfights should stay on twitter.

    1. Now this is a change of gears, friend. Before, you thought we were too apolo­getic and holding back too much. This has gone way beyond Twitter, though.

    2. I think this piece is an excel­lent counter-argument. And it was incred­ibly infor­ma­tive. I had not heard about an anti-ND move­ment, and it’s upset­ting. It’s a call to edu­cate, sup­port, and fight for the autistic people in my life. My son does not need a cure. He isn’t dis­eased. He needs a world that under­stands him and accepts him as he is.

  6. Really enjoyed reading this inci­sive and log­ical (hurrah!) response. Can I, how­ever, make one com­ment? I’m autistic, and late diag­nosed, so prob­ably have a fair bit of inter­nalised ableism going on due to years of sur­vival masking, but I have expe­ri­enced being shut down by a promi­nent Twitter autism com­mu­nity member. It really was a painful expe­ri­ence. I’m learning about my own con­di­tion, have no time for the autism is a tragedy brigade and am fiercely proud of my autism, but the exchange I had on Twitter with this person really made me feel knocked down and afraid to ask ques­tions or explore ideas. Genuinely inter­ested to hear your thoughts, but be kind as I’m clearly a bit sen­si­tive 😉.

  7. “Instead of pointing fin­gers at anyone or laying blame any­where, this article has one aim: to demon­strate how autistic people would read EILEEN LAMBS ARTICLE?!?
    I’m confused…”instead of pointing fin­gers at anyone.…let’s just pub­licly roast Ms Lamb..🤔

    I’m sorry, I under­stand you don’t agree with her POV but I find when I read an article I don’t agree with I either stop reading and move on or just delete the article…this is just wrong.

  8. tech­ni­cally, you can KIND OF do the rewiring, but it takes get­ting a trau­matic brain injury/stroke/similar. based on my expe­ri­ence as someone who’s had a TBI it is any­thing BUT a cure and in my case it prob­ably made me *more* neu­ro­di­ver­gent, or at least seri­ously impacted my life.

  9. Thank you for writing this!
    You do such great work, Terra.
    You’re making such an impor­tant and pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in the world.

  10. I looked Eileen Lamb up, but didn’t bother opening any of her arti­cles.
    BUT she seems to be unaware that ‘Autism’ is not a single defined thingie.
    We cannot find any one single thing that defines autis­tics, and we don’t know what causes it.
    Personally, as a person who is con­sid­ered Asperger’s by some, with both par­ents who would have been defined as ‘Asperger’s’, with two nephews who have been ‘diag­nosed’ as Asperger’s, who are both quite dif­ferent from each other, all I can say is that we are a widely varying lot.
    As for other forms of Autism, they are ever MORE varied. Some might be no more than ‘men­tally retarded’, some might be acquired brain damage, some might be just being dif­ferent and having dif­ferent values than their par­ents and social milieu have.
    I can see ‘inter­ven­tion’ being needed when a person cannot live unaided. It might mean life long care, but If inter­ven­tion can help these people live life to the fullest, isn’t it a good thing?
    Otherwise let us weirdos, and odd bods and absent minded pro­fes­sors alone with all our foibles.

  11. Well, I’m in agree­ment that autism shouldn’t be used to exploit indi­vid­uals on the spec­trum or make a profit.
    But that said, I have to be in dis­agree­ment about the cure thing. I want a cure, simply because I hate having an invis­ible wall around me and a com­mu­ni­ca­tion bar­rier that pre­vents me from making appro­priate social con­nec­tions with people in this world. It’s cost me so many jobs and friend­ships, as well as oppor­tu­ni­ties. It’s made finding a good paying job, and keeping one a struggle. Even if you change the “light­bulb” for one person, it might bother another, so you aren’t fixing the problem at all.
    No, I wasn’t “brain washed” by neu­rotyp­i­cals, this is a per­sonal want. I’ve had to learn, despite my own ten­dency to have “black and white” thinking that it isn’t all black and white when it comes to some­thing like this.
    As far as rewiring the brain goes, sorry but autism is not what I am at my core. I am not my autism. I have autism, and I prefer to think of it as a sep­a­rate thing from my per­sonal exis­tence. It wouldn’t change who I was, I’d still be a huge cat person and have my per­sonal inter­ests. Even neu­rotyp­i­cals have “spe­cial inter­ests” after all, they just don’t fixate on them like we do. I’d like to be able to do that, have my spe­cial inter­ests without being so fix­ated that it’s hard to con­cen­trate on or learn any­thing else.
    And I’m also very much ruled by emo­tions. Yes there are things that are log­ical to me that are impor­tant to me and not to other people, but I think having a cure would be a more log­ical thing. At the very least, let it be a choice and may it be a choice made by the person on the spec­trum because that’s the person it would be effecting. Don’t halt progress because you’re afraid of change, and trust me that’s one thing I’m afraid of myself. But I want to take the wall down. I want to walk out­side of it and it holds me back from my true poten­tial.

    1. I am on anti-depressants, They do NOY make any dif­fer­ence to me depres­sion per se, but they DO help me behave in more social accept­able ways, which does make my life easier

    2. I under­stand that you’re not at peace with your autism, and there­fore not at peace with your­self. But you need to take a good deep look inside you. It’s not your autism which makes your life hor­rible. It’s some­thing much more per­sonal.

      1. Nate. I think you are both unkind and igno­rant.

    3. I think if you’d like to iden­tify as having a dis­order, that should be your right. But there are con­se­quences to cre­ating cures that you indi­vidual capacity cannot pre­vent — one of them is the like­li­hood that adult par­ents will choose to “cure” a child of autism without their input before the age of majority.

      To me, as an autistic person, that would be a type of eugenic geno­cide. It would unmake people like me. My people would stop existing.

      I think there is some­thing deeply sin­ister about that con­cept. And because I know that we live in a world where trans­gender chil­dren can’t even obtain hor­mone sup­pres­sants in their teens to allow them to choose which puberty they go through I have no con­fi­dence that our med­ical pro­fes­sionals will pro­tect the right of autistic chil­dren to choose or not choose to be autistic based on their own pref­er­ence but will instead allow them to be vio­lated by the will of their par­ents. I think it will be exactly as hor­rific and degrading and coer­cive as my trans­gender expe­ri­ence has been.

      Transgender kids cannot be cured against their will. Because med­i­cine has built into it’s rules around the care of trans­gender people rules about the desires of the indi­vidual. When you are trans­gender, YOU choose, or you don’t get the treat­ment. Nobody can force a child to tran­si­tion without obtaining their con­sent first.

      But autistic chil­dren don’t have these rights. We are rou­tinely coerced into treat­ment. That is the very premise behind inter­ven­tions like ABA. We don’t get a say. Children will run into traffic trying to escape… and then be ordered by the court to receive the treat­ment anyway.

      In the eyes of the court, an autistic child is an unperson. And unper­sons, like people sub­jected to forced psy­chi­atric holds or crim­inal incar­cer­a­tion are not offered the same rights of autonomy even the average *trans­gender* child is offered when saying yes or no to a treat­ment. I mean, you have to be some kind new level of mar­gin­alised when trans­gender people have more rights than you do.

      I can’t imagine a worse horror than to be deprived of my freedom of choice in such a way as an indi­vidual, espe­cially as a child. The degra­da­tion is com­plete. I am an unperson if I can be ordered to be cured.

      I don’t want that for any­one’s autistic child. I’d rather there be NO cure at all for *anyone* than have ONE person cured against their will. Until society has changed to the point where autistic chil­dren can veto treat­ment plans, and chil­dren are not rou­tinely sub­jected to cure before the age of con­sent I do not want any kind of eugenics-capable solu­tion.

      If we cannot allow people the freedom to exist on their own terms, who are we as a society? If people must be “fixed” to be allowed to exist in peace and pros­perity, what does that say about our society as a whole?

      Is your problem really with your autism… or what society has made you to suffer because you are autistic? Is the problem your autism…or is it society?

  12. “Plus I don’t believe that autistic people block people. That’s NTs for you.”
    Yeah, because a need for safety from those that harass others is an allistic trait that absolutely ^never^ occurs in the autistic pop­u­la­tion. (-_Q) So much fail.

    1. Autism is such a varied thingy. BUT — espe­cially for those with no expe­ri­ence of ‘people with autism’ — some of them can be very very fright­ening.
      I would plea with people her to stop using ‘neu­rotyp­ical’ as an insult. There is a con­tinuum from bor­ingly normal to having some strange inter­ests or habits, get­ting up on out booby horse (espe­cially at inap­pro­priate times), to finding social inter­ac­tion fright­ening (and get a rep­u­ta­tion for being anti­so­cial), to have break­down in public, to being mad enough to be hos­pi­talised.
      We all do as well as we can.
      Those who we clas­sify in our minds as ‘neu­rotyp­ical’ might be fighting any number of demons. Indeed some of these ‘NT’ people might be having far more serious problem than you are.

      1. I DO wish we has an edit option here — I’ve got dyslexic fin­gers 🙁 “HOBBY” horse of course 🙁 I am the booby 🙁

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