An open letter to the Spectator’s anti-neurodiversity article: THE DANGERS OF NEURODIVERSITY

This is my response to the quite-frankly, ravingly-paranoid article I found printed in hard copy in the magazine.  The infamous blogger and social media contributor, Jonathan Mitchell, had submitted the article to the UK Magazine and boasted how he did it for free.  I cannot help but think a vulnerable and cleary depressed and suffering man has been taken for quite a ride here.  He’s being exploited as a means of expressing the agendas of others through his pain.

Mitchell is a member of the AUTISTIC DARK WEB, a person appears to be an autistic, or someone who claims to be, who can only conceive of humanity as being either sick or healthy.  No spectrums of the brain.  They believe the only valid human is Neurotypical.  

All else is disease and disorder.  So they invariably express themselves as self-hating and depressed people.  Forever aspiring to being cured, which is a state of being in which, we must assume, they could achieve all the goals they feel they cannot right now and finally be happy.  

Only when “cured” can they live the lives they want and do the things they cannot do.  We, of course, believe there is no ‘cure,’ and that the concept and frame of reference it exists in is redundant.  They assert their beliefs absolutely.  They cannot compromise and are always aggressive in their actions towards neurodiversity advocates.  

The Spectator article itself can be read here. They don’ like fluffy kittens….

I am a professional autistic self-advocate, performance artist, and autism consultant.

I wish to make the following points about Jonathan Mitchell’s article in The Spectator magazine, dated 19th January, 2019.  On page 18 of the print edition the article appears under the title ‘THE DANGERS OF NEURODIVERSITY.’  It is credited as being exclusively authored by Jonathan Mitchell.

This is a collaborative, two part open letter.  To read part 2, a response in-line with the article, click here.  The following represents my complaints with the article:

  • That the information Mitchell has published and the statements he makes about ‘neurodiversity proponents’ and ‘neurodiversity self-advocates,’ and the entire tone of his article, is biased; further, that some of it is not factually correct.
  • That the article has put a vulnerable man in harm’s way. That Mitchell details in the first paragraph of his article that he is a vulnerable adult. That he has been published in such a way as he may encounter hostility and responses via social media – which he willfully maintains daily – when it could have been avoided.
  • Mitchell’s article seems to relate to any kind of communication with him that opposes his ideas and beliefs as malicious and aggressive; thus, he will interpret the inevitable backlash from people like myself, who feel we have been insulted and slandered, as abusive and hurtful actions.  Naming him in such an inflammatory article was a violation of journalistic integrity. 
  • Further, Mitchell refers to advocates like myself as brutal and aggressive, and possessing some ability to prevent parents from doing what they want to their autistic children in terms of medical interventions, treatments, and so-called “cures.”
  • Autism is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of either neurologically-defined behavioural characteristics, or “symptoms,” if you consider it a disorder. Mitchell does not acknowledge anything positive about the first definition and is biased against the second. We consider this attitude one-sided and aggressively slandering the very nature of people like me.  Without providing a counter-perspective, readers are not given access to the predominating majority voice of autistic people.
  • Mitchell refers to the term ‘autism’ as if it were a disease, like a virus.  Despite his admitting it to be a hereditary phenomenon and discussing the neurodiversity advocates’ perspectives, he nonetheless references the term throughout the article as if it were a plague or epidemic people caught at birth.  This is not true.
  • Mitchell paints a picture of advocates like myself as completely narrow-minded, when in fact every advocate acknowledges that people have the freedom of choice to make whatever decisions they want. All we do is oppose by reason and statements. We are not, as Mitchell seems to insinuate, blockading clinics and forcibly preventing parents from doing what they want with their autistic children.
  • Mitchell makes statements about online abuse being perpetuated against who oppose neurodiversity advocates.  His arguments are very simplistic and fail to provide evidence of actual interactions.  He feels free to make sweeping generalisations without substantiating them, expecting the audience to accept his words as being representative of the broad neurodiversity movement. 
  • Mitchell, who is clearly articulate enough to write a winding screed worthy of publication and to have been awarded twenty jobs in his professional life– all of those he notes from which he was subsequently fired—is clearly not a person who is incapacitated. He is a person who has always needed more understanding and more effective supports. An autistic man who spends his days and nights on social media slandering and trolling autistics is a vulnerable person, and propagating this self-loathing narrative was exploitative. 
  • Mitchell consistently refers to the desire to be cured of autism. He is in his fifties and clearly has complex issues. How can neurodiversity advocates do anything but complement his life?  Neurodiversity advocates are asking to be seen as human beings, inextricable from their autism.  They do not push for all research surrounding autism to be halted.  Yet Mitchell does not connect with his own ‘neurotribe’ – the very people who can give him what he says he lacks: relationships.  Instead, he spends his days and nights trolling them on social media, insulting their looks, and presuming that individuals belong to some unilateral, unified theory of what the trajectory of autism research and treatment needs to be. 


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36 Responses

  1. Completely fake and insincere false ‘compassion.’ I am well aware of the gaslighting tactics of you and your ‘community.’ Your idea that people can just wish autism away and enjoy life would never be condoned if it were said to someone with cancer and AIDS; and autism (actual non-self-diagnosed) autism is just as real as cancer or AIDS; and it has most certainly has no more right to exist than AIDS or cancer. Jonathan Mitchell doesn’t need your hypocritical pretence at empathy; many people have already seen how the Neurodiversity Lobby operate with these standard issue gaslighting tactics. #EndAutismNow — wallace

    1. Oh, look, it’s Turd Ferguson of incel alt-right fame. Don’t you have a MGTOW rally to attend? Did you get kicked off Twitter?

      1. Incel? Alt-RIght? Ha ha. Someone must be very bored. Since when is rejecting identity politics tantamount to affirming it? 😉

  2. One day autism will vanish from the page of time. Nothing less will ever satisfy me, as an autistic person. Your majority hegemony is going to fade over time; social justice has peaked, and you neurodiversity apologists are all facing the onset of a cold, hard winter in the war of ideas that you will never recover from. Neurodiversity has peaked, and in 50 years from now, nobody will even remember it. You can enjoy your little day in the sun, but reason is destined to prevail over ideological lunacy. All evil ideas deserve to perish, and they are very much liable to do so; and from this, we can known that Neurodiversity is on borrowed time. Diversity is swallowed up in victory!

    1. What’s wrong, did Jordan Peterson not make you feel special today? You sound like a pathetic Saturday morning cartoon villain from the Jim Crow era. I’m not even going to delete your comments because they are so self-defeating that they are laughable.

      “And I woulda done it, too, if not for those pesky little NDs!” Go back and stroke Simon Baron-Cohen’s ego some more about how we should “embrace differences.” Your hypocrisy is showing…

      1. Oh dear, somebody sounds angry. Are you prepared to defend your defamatory comments in court? 🙂

        1. Here’s some extra reading, Comrade! Can’t to see how people react when they see REAL evidence of my ACTUAL views, rather than your ridiculous smears 😉

          Hm… A white nationalist incel who has explicitly condemned white nationalism and incelism multiple times, plus has written for a pro-Israel publication on multiple occasions. Have fun disentangling that one. 😉

          1. “A white nationalist incel who has explicitly condemned white nationalism and incelism multiple times, plus has written for a pro-Israel publication on multiple occasions. Have fun disentangling that one.”

            Some Jewish people are white; it is a religion more than it is an ethnicity. As for explicitly condemning incelism, I’ve seen you engage in it far more frequently. You do know that incelism, like androgyny more generally, mainly features the hatred of women. It doesn’t matter how often you scream “Incelism is wrong!” if you often attack women online because you’re all butthurt over the fact that you can’t get a girlfriend.

        2. When you post #endautismnow on a neurodiversity site, you’ve already done the work of establishing yourself as alt-right. There are a lot of ways to be “alt right” which do not include anti-Semitism. The world considers you as being an active member of a hate group and as propagating hate speech and calling for eugenics. And no matter how you want to create a euphemistic slant on incel ideology, even the articles in the links you’ve posted argue that the two options an autistic man (or the overwhelming majority) has are to live a life of unrelenting misery or to embrace chastity voluntarily.

          And you say this in an article about the “joke” of white privilege:

          “But I do need to continue making a genocidal, full-frontal assault upon this horrible disease, which inevitably deprives people of their basic humanity.

          I may never be a real human being, but I’ll always be able to strive to inch closer towards basic humanity, even if I never quite reach it.

          It’s killed or be killed!

          And the death of autism is begins with me!”

          And, then you have done the rest of the work for me by defining “alt-right” as having no meaning in your article about white supremacists. No one called you an anti-Semite. But no one is going to have a hard time characterizing you as alt-right.

          So, by all means, take this to court. Pay the court costs for the vast amount of expert witnesses my attorney will call to the stand to have a judge sit with his mouth agape, horrified as quotes from your own writing are read. The majority of the world sees you as being an active member of a hate group. Sit and squirm as a judge looks on in disgust that you would waste the courts’ time with this kind of frivolous hypocrisy.

          Because there are lots of cruel things you say to vulnerable people online, and they are gross… but then to balk at someone responding to your hateful comment and threaten litigation is a whole new level of entitlement. So, go ahead, Wallace. There is a repository of screenshots of your posts we can bring in for evidence.

          What a joke.

          1. Further, defamation must hurt the reputation of the person about whom libelous untruths have been spoken. There is no degree to which I could hurt your reputation that you haven’t already done this on your own. You think you’re in friendly territory spouting your genocidal hate speech on a neurodiversity website? You think our readers suddenly started to feel disgusted by the fact that you want our contributors to die once I responded to you? You did that all on your own.

    2. You do realise all of this is a waste of time?

      If you self identify as autistic.
      If you connect with other self identifying autistic people.
      If you relate amongst such people about being autistic.
      If you hold common beliefs to be true amongst such people.
      If you have relationships with others based on your being autistic
      If you proceed to work together as a group and a community to promote ideas you all believe in, let alone back each other up…
      Then you are so called Neurodiversity movement.

      We are all Neurodiversity Movement. The only differences between us, are the opinions and attitudes we hold to being autistic.

      So some people come together and see it as a disorder and disease. Some come together but do not. some want a cure. Some eschew that frame of reference. Fine. I think that will always go on.

      You do know you can have more than one view, even opposing ones, present in a debate at the same time?

      You’re writings that define some sort of ND Movement seem to stigmatise and project – negatively – on people who hold beliefs around autism that are largely the opposite of yours. You have friends in the ND Movement community online who agree with you. You also use wonderfully childish terms like ‘EVIL IDEAS’ and write demented sentences like DIVERSITY IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY!

      Actually your writing is so deeply over intellectualised that you read as if you are in a world of your own with it.

      It seems to have become a mildly paranoid thing, in the style of poor Jonathan Mitchell. He cannot get a job or experience a romantic relationship because of his personality. Not as he assumes, due to his attempts to extrapolate his autistic nature from himself and frame it as some sort of separate entity that plagues him. He could do voluntary work in the right supportive context, or appreciate his friendships are the start of the road that leads to having a sexual partner.

      I especially love the absolute dogmatism of your phrase IDEOLOGICAL LUNACY. Oh, you mean people who are not depressed about being autistic and try to be cheerful? Because actually that’s about all is going on mate. But feel free to massively overcomplicate life.

      Hope this helps. x

        1. Yes we do. The rather extraordinary capacity for someone who professes such terrible disability, to write the way you do. That’s quite an iq, eloquence of phrase and ability with words you have there for one so profoundly mentally disabled. Good job it’s just a silly comments section.

        2. Dear Claudia Mazzucco, I am an autistic adult living with the effects of being abused because I am autistic. You and me have our autism in common, but not much else.

      1. People suffering from authentic, real, true, severe autism, have learning disabilities which in extreme case made them unable to take care of themselves, these disabilities are a lifelong condition that don’t change with treatment. There is nothing that connect them to someone who want to call himself “autistic” or “actually autistic.”

        As you’ve probably figured out by now, choosing to believe you have autism does not make you autistic. Even if you find a doctor that will give you the diagnosis. You want to believe you are autistic. And I myself as person who has suffered through severe autism in childhood and recovered from it, I shall confess having very little interest (none at all) in knowing what the motivation for such a choice would be.
        With that in mind, those who you have renamed as “neurotypical” (a totally illusory category) can’t realize that you are autistic simple because they are unable to see the different between you and a person who does not have autism.

        Aspies take to complaining bitterly about other people. Many of their mishaps in social situations are not because of autism but because an autistic like personality they have cultivated. If your assumptions were true, if you were really a neurodivergent person, then you will have some evident (remarkable) characteristics that will make people realize that you are indeed “autistic.” But that is not the case. That is why you would have a difficult time to be in touch with the rest of the world.

        1. Blimey.

          What do you hope to gain with all this rubbish? You’ve never worked with genuinely autistic people have you, faking this. Some of us have. We have empathy for our own kind. You think I’ve never been near a special needs school or centre? Oh but please, write some more. It is great to read.

        2. I’m sorry, your description here isn’t very clear, even for someone speaking English as a second language.

          One minute you say that autism is a lifelong condition that can’t be treated, the next you say you’ve had the same thing and recovered from it.

          I won’t deny that some people might grow out of certain aspects of autism and others won’t, but that isn’t what you’ve said.

          As an aside, it’s unscientific to argue that someone’s autism has been cured unless they’ve undergone drastic brain treatments, whose effects are usually temporary and risk having serious side effects.

          It is possible to cure the nonverbal aspect of autism with tutoring and to alliviate many of the physical side effects with dietary help, but these aren’t the same thing at all.

        3. “People suffering from authentic, real, true, severe autism, have learning disabilities which in extreme case made them unable to take care of themselves, these disabilities are a lifelong condition that don’t change with treatment. There is nothing that connect them to someone who want to call himself ‘autistic’ or ‘actually autistic’.”

          I need support to cook, clean, tidy up, run a bath (I can’t shower), wash my hair, find my way around new places, once got hit by car going at 40 MPH as I got lost going to the Medical Museum in Leeds where I had never been before, and I have a measured IQ of 123… You were saying?

    3. “Nothing less will ever satisfy me, as an autistic person.”

      If you were actually autistic, you would have more empathy and theory of mind for autistic people than you clearly do.

  3. To the author of this Blog: What is your goal? What do you expect to gain by attacking Mitchell so openly and without any feeling whatsoever?

    1. Appeal to motive fallacy right here. Implying that the author has the motivation to attack Mitchell with this response article thus making the article’s point wrong.
      No, the author isn’t attacking Mitchell here and was not motivated by such goal.
      The whole point of this piece is to debunk in 2 parts Mitchell’s biased inconsistancy expressed in the Spectator.
      The man mainly relied on strawman to built up his “critic” of the ND movement.
      Obviously people would’ve responded to that sooner or later but not to attack Mitchell but to call him out on his lies about the ND movement.

  4. I was born in Argentina and raised in La Banda, Santiago del Estero. Some of my childhood memories are clouded in fog but I can remember the over sensitiveness to noises. It was a world of sensory scrambling. I learned Spanish through pictures and constant repetition, connecting people and words by visual perceptions. Not sounds. Autism had an adverse effect on making some friends, though I’ve never been met with any open discrimination or aggression. I doubt that I fully understood my predicament at six years of age, but I had a strong sense that I was different. To my knowledge I was the only child with autism in La Banda, though that was likely an observation based on the limited breadth of my world at that age.

  5. “The world considers you as being an active member of a hate group and as propagating hate speech and calling for eugenics.” Nope! Pretty sure that’s just you love 😉 Or your esteemed comrades 🙂

  6. “No matter how you want to create a euphemistic slant on incel ideology.” An ideology, identity and subculture I have condemned many times. Do stop digging 🙂

  7. “the fact that you want our contributors to die.” This is actually quite hilarious. Are you now suggesting I want people to die? I strongly recommend you seek professional help. Do you have some kind of bizarre persecution fixation? Since when does killing autism involve killing people? Honestly, your flailing truly is a sight to behold. I have to say this page truly is the gift that keeps on giving! Tara for now.

    1. “Since when does killing autism involve killing people?”
      Since always.
      You’re altering a person to such an extent that the original person is basically gone. You have a new person in their body, but the person you’re talking about helping? Gone. Dead.
      Killing us would be more honest.

  8. By the way, nice bluff re: the allegedly-existing screenshots about my alleged-existing ‘hate speech.’ Given that the neurodiversity believers generally talk as though they somehow thought ending autism is hate speech, if not outright genocide, it sounds like you could end up making some pretty heavy weather of marshalling any real evidence in court. Have fun for now. No doubt we can speak again later on, in a more felicitous environment, should I decide to press this further in a formal litigation context. I will take note of your further unfounded accusations (past and if applicable, future), and make a decision in due course. For now, a little more circumspection and prudence might help you deteriorating the situation any further. Cheers chuck!

  9. Yes, the comments section is a shitheap, and twitter is even worse. Both Mitchell and Wady have made efforts to answer concerns respectfully, but the vast majority of the time, it takes someone to bother to write an article to be polite about this stuff.

    Otherwise, the goal on social networks seems to consist of making your comments as inflammatory as possible in a failed attempt to look confident – who needs tabloid journalism anymore?

    I’d like it if people could listen to each other and meet halfway, but most people seem to prefer to dismiss everything everyone else says.

    Paul’s attempt at squaring this circle seems to involve pretending anyone he doesn’t hate must agree with him.

  10. On another note, please stop comparing your ideological enemies with whatever tired autism stereotype you can think of.

    I’m sure there are plenty of people on the right with no connection to autism who’d just love to dismiss them as cringey social justice warriors, and I’m sure that there are plenty on the left with no genuine understanding of autistic people who’d just love to dismiss autistic people they can’t be bothered to understand as otherwise privileged misogynist virgins with crypto-fascist views who go around shooting people in order to lash out.

    This is what you get when a marginalized group of people with a disability are conflated with every negative nerd stereotype you can think of (not that being nerdy is a bad thing).

  11. For as long as supposed neurodiversity advocates attack, bully, spread rumors and lies; for as long as the “community “ gangs up on people who suffer , as long as people with questions are attacked and harassed, trolled and doxxed all in the name of “protecting” them or helping them, for as long as known criminals fund their travel and their causes this movement cannot be taken seriously. It isn’t real. If it was substantial people would not be so easily able to take advantage of it. Thanks for this article.

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