Behind the Anti-Neurodiversity Articles: An Unholy Alliance of Usual Suspects

Editor’s Preface

This article is a collaborative effort with advocates from the NeuroClastic team, other autistic advocates and allies, and human rights organizations.

This is a long article meant to serve as a primer to provide context and background for the ongoing attacks against the NeuroDiversity Movement.

The Merry-Go-Round of Anti-Neurodiversity Propaganda

Another anti-neurodiversity movement article made its rounds last week, and that has fueled some discussion and given rise to many rebuttals. “What is autism? How the term became too broad to have meaning any more,” written by Thomas Clements and published in the UK’s The Guardian, typifies what the autistic community has come to expect from “The Usual Suspects.”

Tweet from thomas clements reading: Proof, if ever you needed any, that you should never take a Guardian writer's prognostications seriously.
Tweet: Thomas Clements username, says "Whiteys need not apply." Retweeting The Guardian about a "six-week summer internship open to candidates from a BAME or lower soc..."

In order to understand why autistic advocates might react strongly to what seems to be a rational examination of issues in autistic advocacy, mainstream society will need some background information.

This article isn’t written so much as a rebuttal, but as an exploration of what autistic people and our close allies see that most people won’t.

Tweet by Tom Clements: A neurodiversity advocate has written their own op-ed for the @Independent. To be honest I expected a lot better than threadbare intersectional cliches about white male privilege etc. Never mind. Link to an independent article: "People are using Autism to excuse cruelty and white male vi.."

What is the Neurodiversity Movement?

The neurodiversity movement is not a social club or political ideology. It maintains that certain neurological conditions are genetic variations and are not “diseases,” though they are usually disabilities. These conditions cannot be separated from a person’s thoughts or core self. It is how they are wired.

The neurodiversity movement seeks to humanize individuals who are “neurodivergent” (ND)—meaning they diverge from the neurological majority—to call attention to their support needs and to promote awareness and acceptance of how their needs and behaviors differ and how best to accommodate them and position them to self-advocate.

While it would seem that such a movement would be hard to fault, there have been detractors. For the purpose of this article, they will be referred to as “The Usual Suspects.”

The Usual Suspects

1. The genetics/cure lobby, the recipients of a substantial percentage of the trillions of dollars spent on autism. This includes pharmaceutical companies, genetics researchers, corporate lobbyists, and investors.

2. The applied behavior analysis (ABA) lobby, those promoting the primary “therapy” that is pushed as being needed to treat autism—not traits or specific areas of need, but the whole autistic person. Behavioural therapy has been deemed abusive by the neurodiversity community.

3. The “severe” autism lobby, those promoting a false dichotomy of “mild” and “severe” autism, which primarily leans on the falsehood that non-speaking autistics are severely intellectually disabled. They dehumanize non-speakers by perpetuating misinformed assumptions about their competence and by positing that those with intellectual disability are incapable of self-advocacy or are less human.

4. The anti-neurodiversity movement, many of whose members have been called the “Autistic Dark Web,” a troupe of people who are mostly regarded as trolls and are most visible on Twitter. These people claim that the #ActuallyAutistic/Neurodiversity Movement is full of “social justice warriors” from the far left who want to turn autism into an issue of “identity politics.”

Tom Clements tweet: The notion of "presuming competence" i.e. one must assume that a person with a set of profound cognitive impairments has the ability to think, learn and understand despite there being no evidence that that's the case, is pure #Neurodiversity propaganada.
Jill Escher tweet replying to @brucehallphoto. Says The puppet is basically an extended costume. Who the F cares? Will these Autism McCarthyiets shut the freak up? Leave the costume-puppet in peace. The neurobullies can write and costume their own blasted play. Puppets can be autistic too.
ABA Access4all on twitter says The ‘presuming competence’ bash mums who are realistic, even when they’ve never met the kid. My son’s triumph is that he can ask to go places like ‘flip out’ (trampolines) or specific swimming pool, or white not brown bread. These jokers need to shut tf up. ASAN even support FC!

The first three of these four groups combine to keep capital flowing to the tune of multiple trillions of dollars internationally. Autistic advocates have been changing the conversation about autism, though, asking for tolerance, acceptance, and accommodations (instead of cures or therapies that prioritize appearing “indistinguishable from a neurotypical child”) and educational options that cater to the specific needs of the individual.

Eventually—though having little in common—these camps merged and joined forces on the common ground of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The common enemy was the Neurodiversity Movement, which threatened to undermine the financial and ideological underpinnings of each of these groups.

And, they pick up stragglers: parents who believe strongly in cures and ABA, anti-vaxxers, the alt-right, “Aspie supremacists,” queerphobic people, body-shamers, racists, conspiracy theorists, misogynists who loved the “extreme male brain”/”gods of Silicon Valley” myth of Asperger Syndrome, martyr parents who become social media personas about how hard it is to raise an autistic child, and homeopaths and snakeoil salespeople.


The Tired Playbook

Their rhetoric is coordinated and scripted, moves in waves, and can be found cropping up in publications around the world all at the same time. These talking points coincide with edits they make on Wikipedia and “research” they all pull out of a hat around the same time.

Former topics have been scatolia (smearing one’s own feces) and incontinence, epilepsy, pedophilia as neurodiversity, “indigo children,” self-injury, puzzle piece icons, facilitated communication, #puppetgate, rapid-onset gender dysphoria, elopement, and the list goes on.

Whatever is the talking point of the moment, suddenly articles crop up in multiple publications from representatives of each group of “The Usual Suspects.”

But why?

The whole aim is to discredit the neurodiversity movement. It’s that simple.

This is not to assert that everyone who participates in the field of genetics, every ABA practitioner, nor every person who uses the phrase “severe autism” work together to upend the neurodiversity movement. Many have no idea that the movement is even “a thing.”

This article references specifically those who have demonstrated antipathy against the neurodiversity movement and its proponents and who actively work to undermine it.

Autistic advocates and allies are quickly and dramatically changing the conversation about autism, and that threatens the narratives upon which the aforementioned have built their glass houses.

And, one of the most prominent (or infamous) figures in this scheme is Thomas Clements, whose presence is all over the anti-neurodiversity rhetoric. Apparently, it was Thomas who coined the term, “Autistic Dark Web,” a moniker that many of its foundational members have chosen to distance themselves from in a bid to seem more moderate, logical, and relatable.

Thomas is a writer who started out as a neurodiversity advocate himself; however, his position switched at some point and he began adopting any position that might in some direct or tertiary way discredit the Neurodiversity Movement.

So, why the name, “Autistic Dark Web”?

Tom Clement tweets: The term was meant satirically, but of course our more literal-minded opponents took it all deadly seriously. It's derived from Eric Weinstein's Intellectual Dark Web. Links wikipedia link.

What’s the “Intellectual Dark Web”?

Since we’re talking about a piece in The Guardian, let’s examine The Guardian’s explanation.

In a piece entitled, “The ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ – the supposed thinking wing of the alt-right,” The Guardian states:

It’s a loose affiliation of individuals who believe their free-thinking embrace of “dangerous conversations” has shut them out of public debate. Adherent and commentator Dave Rubin told the New York Times: “We’re fighting for our ability to agree to disagree before it’s taken away from us.”

By whom? Politically correct academia, the mainstream media, that lot.

How do they hold their dangerous conversations? Through some kind of shadowy underground network? They go on Rubin’s YouTube show, which has 700,000 subscribers. Or they host popular podcasts, attracting thousands in monthly donations.

Talk about being sidelined. Who are these people? Among those often included are former Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro; husband and wife “professors in exile” Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, who resigned from Evergreen State College after denouncing a planned Day of Absence, where white students were asked to leave the campus; and psychologist and political correctness scourge Jordan Peterson.

You mean it’s all just … terrible people? Professional controversialists, I would call them. They come from both the right and sometimes left extremes of the political spectrum, but they all tend to combine some form of hardcore libertarianism with an unfortunate manner.

So, essentially, these (mostly white male) people feel they are being usurped as the primary stakeholders in conversations of all topics, so they’re fighting against not having enough time on the airwaves?

Among their ranks are conspiracy theorist blowhard Alex Jones, Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopoulos, Sam Harris, and most notably, the pontificating Jordan Peterson.

The Male Fragility that Transcended Neurotype

According to an article entitled, “How Jordan Peterson helped me to toughen up and tell the truth,” Clements closed his account and withdrew, after he was called a “bigot” and “misogynist” on Twitter by a self-described “intersectional feminist.” It was at this low that he discovered Jordan Peterson, who inspired him to embrace his cultural (and not religious) Judeo-Christian and Western heritage, despite the fact that he was non-religious.

His whiteness?

Quickly, as an aside, “Judeo-Christian values,” the phrase, is not meant to actually reference a religion. It’s a dogwhistle to the alt-right. Many people who frequently reference “Judeo-Christian” values just hate Muslims, ethnic minorities, immigrants, and social justice warriors.  This is not to say that all Christians or people who have Jewish or Christian values are supremacists, but it is a phrase often used by people who are anti-religious to signal their neoreactionary beliefs– it’s used an “acceptable” way to couch bigotry.

Lex (@thc4autism) tweets: When will the radical left get out of the way? Freedom of religion unless you have Judeo-Christian values. Title of article linked: San Antonio bars Chick-fil-a from airport, cites 'legacy of anti-LGBT behavior'

Clements writes, “The sword of truth is penetrating and it is my greatest weapon against those who, like the person I mentioned earlier, are so deeply convinced of their own moral rectitude.”

This is the person who accuses neurodiversity advocates of fanaticism all the time…

Thomas Clements (@tclementsuk) tweets: "You couldn't possibly know about racism because you're white", or so say the syphillitic SJW bedwetters in my mentions. Perhaps they should tell that to my Irish grandparents who had their house firebombed & received shit through their letterbox when they arrived in Britain.
This is the person who is supposed to care about those with “severe” autism who wet the bed?

Enter the “Autistic Dark Web”

So, an incel was born… or rather, a troupe of them. Taking the alt-right stance of the Intellectual Dark Web, which is ironically named, and merging it with other forms of supremacy, gave way to the entitlement brigade that has made autistic Twitter into a hotbed of anti-logic for more than a year.

If you haven’t heard much about incel ideology, here’s a brief background from the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Male supremacy was fundamental to the foundation of the racist “alt-right,” and in many ways served as its “gateway drug.” It is characterized by angry rants blaming feminism for the decline of Western civilization and deriding feminists as “Social Justice Warriors.” Personalities like “alt-right” facilitator Milo Yiannopoulos, conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, pick-up artist Roosh V. (a.k.a. Daryush Valizadeh) and Return of Kings and writer Matt Forney also constantly straddle the line between more formal “alt-right” circles and the male supremacist world.

Of note, it was Mike Cernovich who coined the term, “Intellectual Dark Web.”

Seeing a trend?

Then, there’s “Aspie supremacy,” or this “extreme male brain” hocus that Aspie incels have latched onto as it stoked their supremacist flames.

And here is where the Autistic Dark Web finds its footing.

From Dr. Manuel Casanova’s blog, where he frequently hosts the most radical anti-neurodiversity proponents out there, Jonathan Ferguson (a.k.a Wallace Runnymede), writes in a post introducing the Autistic Dark Web (ADW):

This is a very exciting new anti-SJW, anti-postmodernist, anti-identitarian movement. We oppose authoritarian identity politics and the culture of victimhood. Please consider following as many of us as you can on Twitter, and do look out for relevant hashtags like #autisticdarkweb or #autisticsagainsthate or #westandwithautismparents.

I just want to finish by saying that the Autistic Dark Web are encountering a lot of hatred and opposition; but this only makes us all the more determined to beat the extreme viewpoints and perpetual bitterness and resentment of Alt-Autism.

Be with us in our holy war against entitlement, victimhood and nihilism!

So, we are now looking at how a handful of autistics co-opted the alt-right and tried to make it a “holy war” against “entitlement” and “victimhood” by people who want to be cured of their autism and who are angry for being called names on social media.

A holy war…


Gamergate was an online harassment campaign originally started as a “culture war” to suppress diversity, multiculturalism, and feminism from penetrating into the videogame industry. From The Guardian article, “What Gamergate Should Have Taught Us About the Alt-Right“:

The greatest strength of Gamergate, though, was that it actually appeared to represent many left-leaning ideals: stamping out corruption in the press, pushing for better ethical practices, battling for openness. There are similarities here with many who support Trump because of his promises to put an end to broken neo-liberalism, to “drain the swamp” of establishment corruption. Many left-leaning supporters of Gamergate sought to intellectualise their alignment with the hashtag, adopting familiar and acceptable labels of dissent—identifying as libertarian, egalitarian, humanist. At best they unknowingly facilitated abuse, defending their own freedom of expression while those who actually needed support were threatened and attacked. Genuine discussions over criticism, identity and censorship were paralysed and waylaid by Twitter voices obsessed with rhetorical fallacies and pedantic debating practices. While the core of these movements make people’s lives hell, the outer shell—knowingly or otherwise—protect abusers by insisting that the real problem is that you don’t want to talk, or won’t provide the ever-shifting evidence they politely require.

Anyone who has paid attention to Twitter will recognize that these tactics—the logical fallacies, the ever-shifting goalposts, and the provocation of marginalized people is a sport for ADW or the broader “intellectual dark web” cohort, which is why most people reference them as “trolls.” The fact that many of these groups identify as “socialist” or “moderate” or “liberal” makes their tactics more convincingly “non-political.”

Again, from The Guardian:

By leveraging distrust and resentment towards women, minorities and progressives, many of Gamergate’s most prominent voices—characters like Mike Cernovich, Adam Baldwin, and Milo Yiannopoulos—drew power and influence from its chaos. These figures gave Gamergate a new sense of direction – generalising the rhetoric: this was now a wider war between “Social Justice Warriors” (SJWs) and everyday, normal, decent people. Games were simply the tip of the iceberg—progressive values, went the argument, were destroying everything.

We begin to see a trend with these same names, Cernovich and Yiannopoulos, cropping up over and over in these extremist ideologies—the Intellectual Dark Web. These tactics were employed by the Trump campaign in 2016, online and in the broader media, and later were evident in the behavior of the Autistic Dark Web.

There was no unifying set of views among the Autistic Dark Web. There were anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, parents, and a few autistic people. The goal was simply to overthrow the neurodiversity movement. Gamergate tactics known as “sea-lioning” and “torrancing” were mobilized on Twitter to terrorize autistic self-advocates. From Urban Dictionary:

Sealioning or Sea-lioning

A subtle form of trolling involving “bad-faith” questions. You disingenuously frame your conversation as a sincere request to be enlightened, placing the burden of educating you entirely on the other party. If your bait is successful, the other party may engage, painstakingly laying out their logic and evidence in the false hope of helping someone learn. In fact you are attempting to harass or waste the time of the other party, and have no intention of truly entertaining their point of view. Instead, you react to each piece of information by misinterpreting it or requesting further clarification, ad nauseum. The name “sea-lioning” comes from a Wondermark comic strip.

Torrancing takes online provocation a step farther. In the Vox article, “Are right-wingers stealing tactics from fake anti-Semitism witch-hunters?“, torrancing is described as:

A technique used by the commentariat [news media] whereby they use an insulting headline, article, or comment to emotionally manipulate an angry reaction in people deliberately. As you jump to defend the accusation, you are then blamed as attacking or bullying the commentator as they adopt the “poor me” victim role.

The article goes on about how this tactic has been co-opted and used by Twitter trolls. I would say that the Autistic Dark Web and some of its associates have honed and mastered the craft of torrancing.

Then there’s the alt-right “shitposting” and “irony” or “satire.”

A classic forum term for flooding a thread with worthless or annoying posts, either because you’re bad at posting or because you do it on purpose to troll. The alt-right uses shitposting as a derailing tactic, kind of like a digital filibuster. The term is used flexibly to sometimes describe any kind of online posting: tweets, memes, etc.

These posts are not meant to be taken seriously or do not reflect any actual position they believe the other person holds. They’re just posts to tie up the time and focus of the “opponents” so that they spend most of their time defending against false allegations and ridiculous claims.

Further reading:
Hiding in Plain Sight: How the Alt-Right is Weaponizing Irony to Spread Fascism
Alt-Right BANTZ: Satire Bros and Ho-Ho-Hos
“Deplorable” Satire: Alt-Right Memes, White Genocide Tweets, and Redpilling Normies
A Glossary of Far-Right Terms and Memes
Neo-Nazis are trying to spread hatred through comedy. This isn’t funny

Here’s how shitposting, torrancing, and sea-lioning plays out on Twitter in the autistic community:

Someone non-autistic would post a comment along the lines of, “My nine year old son, Harold Crosley, is having a meltdown and running into walls because I wouldn’t let him eat a whole bag of dog food. He shit on my new rug again and chewed a hole in my furniture, then pulled out his penis in front of the neighbors. This is how it feels to be a mother of a child with autism.”

Even worse, they may include a video of a meltdown. You can click here to read about why it’s a poor idea to broadcast your autistic child’s private moments online.

Of course, most autistic people would be upset by this invasion of privacy and removal of dignity from an autistic child. What happens when the child’s peers and classmates or future partners or employers see these videos, blogs, and social media comments?

These comments were written to be provocative, though, triggering autistic people to come to the ardent defense of exhibitionist parents not respecting the privacy or dignity of their children. They use all the language that might elude the general population as to why it’s so dehumanizing, but to say exactly what will most anger neurodiversity advocates.

Quinn (@ndcritical) tweets: He’s an altright neoNazi who thinks women are less intelligent than men, queer ppl are perversions, Islam is barbaric, immigrants are invaders, and white nationalism is the real anti-racism. There’s piles of receipts where he’s said all this. His intent is to troll and trigger people. He uses his intelligence to conceal his aims and manipulate people, such as via his recent op-ed. His aim is to tie the anti-nd people to the alt-right and recruit young autistic adults to altright extremism.

When the backlash from autistic people comes, the anti-neurodiversity merry-go-round begins. They take every single position which might appeal to a parent distraught about having an autistic child:

“Mothers are allowed to seek support online.”
“Parents know their kids better than anyone. You don’t speak for every autistic person.”
“You have mild autism. Look at you bullying people on Twitter. You don’t know anything about what it’s like to have ‘severe’ autism and smearing feces on the wall, masturbating in public, eating rugs and cigarette butts…”

The thing is, even though autistics are dramatically different from one another, they are overwhelmingly better at understanding autistic behavior, motivation, and triggers by virtue of experience; furthermore, those of us who are active in advocacy circles tend to focus on learning, studying, and specializing in autism with the same authentic dedication Greta Thunberg practices with conservation and climate change.

They aren’t just qualified to speak on the subject because they, too, are autistic. Many advocates have made it their life’s work to help advance autistic well-being, acceptance, and self-advocacy. But, in the Twitterverse, all of that can be negated and thrown away when a group of trolls comes in to say, “You don’t know more than this parent.”

For those autistics who jump into the conversation with rational and good faith advice about privacy and dignity, they would be caught in a back-and-forth, as more and more trolls jump in to make the autistic advocate seem like an irrational, abusive bully.

Somehow, words might be twisted into accusations of racism, child abuse, or other heinous offenses. Gaslighting would abound, some people would swear and provoke while others maintained the appearance of a naïve and harmless—yet confused—perpetual interrogator.

Most autistics on Twitter will immediately recognize these tactics:

When the original person would finally lose their cool, the responses would be screenshot and replayed on several profiles, out of context. Original tweets would be deleted.

These screenshots might surface days or weeks, even months later.

Comments from anti-ND proponents often contained references to women’s looks, racism, transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, fat-shaming, or even parallels to pedophilia. These comments were “triggering” to the “SJWs,” who found themselves dogpiled by the alt-right, often in an attempt to paint them as the “real bigot.”

And, this gem…

Misinformation and Propaganda

Articles like the one that prompted this response are not unique. Autistic advocates and allies are repeatedly dismayed to see the talking points of neurodiversity bastardized and misrepresented in mainstream publications using the same tactics as used by the “intellectual dark web.”

In these articles, partial truths are interspersed with direct misinformation. Let’s revisit the usual suspects from the top of this article:

1. The genetics/cure lobby

2. The applied behavior analysis (ABA) lobby

3. The “severe” autism lobby

4. The “Autistic Dark Web”/”anti-neurodiversity” movement

For autistic people who are paying attention, each time someone from one of these unholy alliances writes an article discrediting neurodiversity advocates—which they use their shared platforms to signal boost—is another time the autistic community gets the message, “Nobody is listening to you. Your words are being twisted. Your efforts are meaningless.”

While those who oppose the neurodiversity movement are few, they are given the vast majority of the airwaves… and they use their position to make autistic advocates seem like they are hostile, irrational, and uncaring about the plight of those with higher support needs.

While some within the neurodiversity movement may be less focused on those unlike themselves and others are not well-informed, certainly the most prominent voices within the movement are disability activists with very real and active involvement in the lives of people with high support needs. And some are themselves non-speaking and need considerable support in their daily lives.

One of the main platforms used to amplify the voices of those who silence autistic advocates is Spectrum News. It can be seen as a hub or platform for the four above offenders to all advance their individual goals at the expense of autistics.

In an article heavily promoted by Spectrum News, “In search of truce in the autism wars,” the case is made that neurodiversity proponents describe autism as a “mere difference” and those against neurodiversity see it as a disability. While a rare few individuals may not feel disabled by being autistic, most do. It’s this provocative and purposeful misdirection of the truth that causes so many to object.

For two weeks, despite scores of autistic people patiently explaining that the position of neurodiversity was not fairly portrayed, the article was left pinned to Spectrum’s Twitter page.

Spectrum also has the practice of tweeting controversial articles afresh, thereby shaking off hundreds of exasperated responses from actual autistic people to the first posting.

In it, both Manuel Casanova and Thomas Clements are quoted. Casanova is quoted as saying,

“I see many positives in the neurodiversity movement, including fighting for what parents of autistic children want: to get society’s acceptance of them and to get accommodations for them,” says Manuel Casanova, professor of biomedical sciences at the University of South Carolina. But the loudest voices in the neurodiversity camp are causing an “upheaval” by insisting on a strict interpretation of autism and what autistic people need, he says.

“They see the world in black and white, and either you are with them or against them,” Casanova says. And if these opinions ultimately sway public opinion, “it might end up hurting research, and hurting the delivery of services to those people who most need them.”

To the general population, this sounds moderate, rational, and like something most people would agree with; however, it’s from the man whose blog hosts this alt-right drivel:

The headlong anti-civilisational plunge into moral relativism and post-truth barbarism and savagery created a proliferation of oppressed ‘communities.’ This process of endless severing, fission and divisive sectarianism can be aptly named ‘community spiralling.’ There have to be more and more new ‘communities’ of ‘oppressed’ people. Just as firemen will go out of business if they are too proud to commit arson, so also do social justice warriors need fresh pretexts for contaminating and infecting the body politic with their metropolitan high dudgeon and bourgeois outrage.

In the case of disability and mental illness, ‘Neurodiversity‘ strode arrogantly onto the stage, dripping with highminded middle-class sentiments, and the eternal rage of the mediocre and the resentful against the noble and the virtuous.

These are the people who are frequently used as confirmation bias about what an autistic person might think or say about a topic. Can we stop bringing out Manuel Casanova to quote in all these articles? And Thomas Clements, who has this gem in the aforementioned article:

Thomas Clements, a mildly autistic man whose brother is severely autistic, says he is dismayed by what he sees as neurodiversity advocates casting autism as a benign neurological quirk. “It denies the very medical nature of autism and the need for research into ways of alleviating the most distressing symptoms of the condition,” he says.

Which, again, seems logical; however, it’s wholly inaccurate.

Also, if Thomas has a website and has profiles on multiple websites, why does Spectrum News link to his Twitter account?

The case cannot be made that Thomas Clements does not know this is the position of neurodiversity advocates, because they have been stuck in torrancing and sea-lioning schemes with him on Twitter trying to patiently explain that he’s wrong.

In another attempt to get Spectrum’s attention, autistic advocate Ryan Hendry made this tweet:

As time went on, Hendry continued to post as they made a 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th publication of the same article, each with different and misleading headlines.

The article’s author, Karola Dillenburger, a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst and Director of the Centre for Behaviour Analysis at Queen’s University Belfast, has a history.

She was commissioned by the Northern Irish Government over three years to conduct a review about lifting autistic people out of poverty. After almost £1 million pounds, 3 years and 5 volumes, the answer in her 2015 report: behavioural interventions, including Intensive ABA.

The John and Lorna Wing Foundation funded a rigorous scientific independent review of Dillenburger’s report, which was published in December, 2017 and discredited Dillenburger’s report. The full 106-page analysis can be found here and demonstrates one of the most horrifyingly negligent abuses of “research” fathomable.

Page 20 sets out that BCBA Dillenburger’s report lacked transparency, ommitted key studies, lacked objectivity, misrepresented others’ research and had a strong ABA bias and high level of self-citation.

Dillenburger’s failure to disclose conflict of interest, seemingly common amongst the field, is elaborated on page 67 of the analysis:

The report authors’ personal and intellectual biases toward the need for early behaviour analytic intervention are not made plain at the outset, as quality criteria would demand. Yet these permeate the report, repeatedly finding their ways into the findings and recommendations despite the participants not raising this issue themselves. There is no reflection on how the research questioning and methods selected influenced the data presented; the report merely presents these as truths unadulterated by the subjectivities of the researchers.

So, while “The Usual Suspects” continue to write about the rigidity of neurodiversity advocates who do not accept treatments, there is never a mention that the only treatment widely rejected by autistic advocates is ABA. There’s also never a mention of the widespread poor research ethics, peer review fraud, and wholesale refusal to state conflicts of interest.

Spectrum News aired an article entitled, “Partnerships with people on the spectrum yield rich research insights,” seemingly as a way to say, “Look, we’re including autistics in our publications.” Yet, in the article, they did very openly what they always do: not include autistics.

Our allies in research spoke out. From the University of Edinburgh,

On 22nd December 2017, Spectrum published an article with the headline: “Partnerships with people on the spectrum yield rich research insights.”

We had agreed to be interviewed for this article. We felt it was an opportunity to inform Spectrum’s readers about the scope and importance of the roles autistic people may play in autism research.

Instead, to our disappointment, the two named autistic people in the article were subject to misrepresentation and a systematic exclusion of their voices.

Unlike all others named and featured in the article, neither Kabie Brook nor Michelle Dawson was interviewed, neither was directly quoted, and neither was provided any links to their work or online profiles.

The message is that autism research is not something these autistics can communicate about, much less contribute to as equals, and that autistics must always and only be spoken for by others.

The striking segregation of named autistic people in this article is inconsistent with journalist ethics. The autistics who were misrepresented and denied a voice have been directly harmed.

The Fashion for Celebrating Neurodiversity

The article in question is “What is autism? How the term became too broad to have meaning anymore,” published in The Guardian. The excerpt reads: The fashion for celebrating ‘neurodiversity’ ignores those with debilitating severe autism, which has created a rift in the community.

Again, another article is published on how there are two sides, (there aren’t) and one side is a bunch of shiny, articulate, “fashionable” autistics ignoring those with “severe” autism. They position themselves as those who care most about those more profoundly disadvantaged.

What readers need to know is that Thomas Clements and his cohorts are spin doctors with the express purpose of taking down the neurodiversity movement and its advocates, the “easily-triggered,” emotionally-laden “social justice warriors.”

Enter the Skeptics

Skeptics are supposed to be a group of fact-finding, myth-busting science lovers—but somewhere along the way, they started becoming an excuse to inject neoreactionary politics into science.

So, they took a turn against social justice warriors, feminists, Muslims, and other groups who were not experiencing parity. Even some staunch liberals who hate religion jumped on the Skepticism Movement… white comedians and even Black political commentators took their love of “facts” out on people who feel “triggered” by oppression.

I interviewed an expert on sociopolitical movements who preferred to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, and this is what he said about the Skeptics and the alt-right:

Content creators realized that if they do a YouTube video make fun of a “screamer” with blue hair or a professor in a humanities position who is easily triggered, then their video gets a ton of hits from the far right. Even if they were primarily liberal, this contrarian tactic was drawing in that anti-SJW crowd.

They realized that if they wanted to cultivate an audience, they could pander to the intellectual dark web by making takedown videos of people they claimed to be too emotional to be rational– especially of feminists. They were growing their cause, and this was collecting an ever-growing base of neo-reactionaries, discord and reddit Gamergate trolls, 4chan and 8chan fascists, techno-commercial futurists, the list goes on…

Who are Neoreactionaries?

Though they frequently delete their Tweets, these people can be found all over Twitter spreading lies, misrepresenting research, bullying autistics, and doing petty, passive aggressive making fun of autistic advocates, especially women, queer folk, and people of color who are proudly or openly autistic.

The Dark Enlightment, or Neoreactionary Movement (often abbreviated as the NRx), is a part of the fringe political anti-democracy faction of the alt-right and the alt-left. According to Jessica Klein’s “Here’s the Dark Enlightenment Explainer You Never Wanted“:

Just when you think you’ve reached the darkest, scariest, most occult corners of the crypto space, you find something even worse. That thing is Dark Enlightenment, a disturbing philosophy espoused by the fringe-ier outliers of the crypto community that feels like libertarianism taken to the nth degree and applied only to the select, entrepreneurially gifted few. It brings cyborgs into feudalism and merges Silicon Valley’s startup ethos with the “selective breeding” originally proposed by Plato. It’s what would happen if more members of the alt-right read Nietzsche and H.P. Lovecraft instead of Donald Trump’s tweets.

And, if that’s not weird enough for you, there’s a special sect of the Dark Enlightenment that appeals specifically to the Aspie supremacists, the “Geeks” who understand each other and have a special relationship with technology.

In Klint Finley’s “Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of Neoreactionaries,” he states:

Many of us yearn for a return to one golden age or another. But there’s a community of bloggers taking the idea to an extreme: they want to turn the dial way back to the days before the French Revolution.

Neoreactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, democracy has actually done more harm than good. They propose a return to old-fashioned gender roles, social order and monarchy.

You may have seen them crop-up on tech hangouts like Hacker News and Less Wrong, having cryptic conversations about “Moldbug” and “the Cathedral.”

There is a nifty graphic made by an alt-right NRx that maps out their scope of reach (the “red-pilled” or those who can be radicalized for the alt-right). None of these people really have much in common outside of the fact that they are anti-diversity– except biodiversity, which we’ll get to shortly. From RationalWiki:


The NRx love to assume the position of scientists, even if they’re not scientifically-oriented or factual. They’ve learned that just throwing out big words, dog whistles, and intellectual arrogance is enough to garner them a following. After all, if Trump can do it…

And they’re all about optics, or “respectability politics.” If they want the “normies” to see them as rational, acceptable, friendly supremacists, they have to look the part. No more tattoos and mohawks and leather jackets. So, they couch their racism and fascism in flowery language, “civil discussion,” and big words.

They love to talk about “biodiversity,” which is shorthand for white supremacy or IQ supremacy. Finley remarks:

So what exactly is the Cathedral stopping neoreactionaries from talking about? Well, the merits of monarchy for starters. But mostly, as far as I can tell, they want to be able to say stuff like “Asians, Jews and whites are smarter than blacks and Hispanics because genetics” without being called racist. Or at least be able to express such views without the negative consequences of being labeled racist.

Speaking of which, neoreactionaries are obsessed with a concept called “human biodiversity” (HBD)—what used to be called “scientific racism.” Specifically, they believe that IQ is one of—if not the—most important personal traits, and that it’s predominately genetic. Neoreactionaries would replace, or supplement, the “divine right” of kings and the aristocracy with the “genetic right” of elites.

Further Reading:
The Alt-Right is Debating Whether to Try to Look Less Like Nazis
New Hate and Old: The Changing Face of American White Supremacy

“Severe” Autistics, ABA, Alt-Right Dogwhistles, Eugenics, #YangGang, and Optics

ABA is essentailly optics training—training to be the more acceptable autistic. It is also a multi-billion dollar international industry and a powerful way to funnel government funds allocated for poverty and disability.

And, they paint “SJWs” as anti-science, hyper-emotional extremists.

BCBA and “Skeptic” Jason Travers insults and dismisses The Aspergian, with a rich team of scientists in multiple fields and an expert in neurodiversity and nonspeaking rights.
Anti-neurodiversity neoreactionary ironically claims that postmodernists (SJWs) don’t care about science while claiming that climate change is not an emergency.

Post-Modern Ideologues, or Cultural Marxists

That person you’ve found yourself arguing with on social media, to get nowhere and arrive at no conclusions, has likely accused you of postmodernism, or being an ideologue or cultural Marxist. This, like an atheist whining about “Judeo-Christian values,” is just an alt-right dogwhistle.

From the New York Times article, “The Alt-Right’s Favorite Meme is 100 Years Old,”

According to their delirious foes, “cultural Marxists” are an unholy alliance of abortionists, feminists, globalists, homosexuals, intellectuals and socialists who have translated the far left’s old campaign to take away people’s privileges from “class struggle” into “identity politics” and multiculturalism. Before he executes the professors, the protagonist of Mr. Lind’s novel expounds on his theory to their faces: “Classical Marxists, where they obtained power, expropriated the bourgeoisie and gave their property to the state,” he says. “Where you obtained power, you expropriated the rights of white men and gave special privileges to feminists, blacks, gays, and the like.” It is on the basis of this parallel that the novel justifies carnage against the “enemies of Christendom” as an act showing that “Western culture” is “recovering its will.”

The article goes on to detail that this dogwhistling and terminology goes beyond just hating liberals, gays, and multiculturalism, and ventures into conspiracy theories about a small cabal of Jews who secretly rule the world and want to impose global communism.

While most of the skeptics don’t believe this particular conspiracy, they have no problem sending out the rat signal to call in all the neoreactionaries to scare off and troll the SJWs who interfere.

The fact is, they are an anti-awareness, anti-tolerance effort. They do not want autistic acceptance. They want autism to be seen as a disease which must be eradicated, and they capitalize on the struggles of autistics who are most profoundly disadvantaged so that they can push that narrative, setting themselves up as the rational and benevolent ones.

They’ve learned that they can’t be as open about anti-vaccine, cure, and “autism steals your children” narratives, because SJWs are “rude bullies,” so they have toned down their language. They’ve scrubbed their Twitter accounts of the most damning evidence, too.

But, you can see this, from Wallace Runnymede/Johnathan Ferguson on Manuel Casanova’s blog (August, 2018):

But in the past few months, people have started to loosely organise around Twitter. This has sent the dominant, hegemonic establishment of Alt-Autism into a panic. The old guard of autism, the decrepit Ancien Regime of big disability, has responded with unbridled fury towards those supposed traitors who have dared to challenge their unquestionable supremacy. The Diversitarian Plantation is guarded every bit as jealously as the Democratic Plantation.

Did he just say “big disability”? In reference to a couple hundred autistic people on Twitter who have almost nothing in common with each other?

Somehow, autistic adults—one of the most marginalized, underserved populations in the world—have become the “elite bourgeois” in this rhetoric, and many people are buying this narrative.

Still, they want autism to be seen as a scourge that people loathe, so they focus their discussion on painting two ends of a non-linear, non-existent spectrum of autism. On one end are eccentric genius introverts who are isolated for their intolerance to social convention and being more intelligent and logical than the “normies.”

On the other end of this non-existent linear spectrum, they focus talking points on a few of the most shocking and debilitating conditions associated with autism to make it seem unbearable and ghastly, a horrifying disease. They talk about smearing feces (scatolia), eating non-food items, incontinence (having accidents related to toileting), self-harm, and being nonverbal or nonspeaking.

The ABA Lobby and the “Severe” Lobby

One of the most aggressive anti-autistic forces online is the ABA lobby. Their disdain for autistics, especially non-speaking autistics, is palpable. They treat autistic advocates like they’re not really autistic, just radical leftists who are avoiding being labeled as having a personality disorder and who “choose to be a victim.”

In fact, many want to cleave to the “Asperger’s” moniker as if it’s some indication of supremacy. In nearly all of these articles, the “severely” autistic are burdens.

While the ABA lobby has no one leader at its helm, the “severe” lobby does. Enter Jill Escher.

Jill Escher is the founder of the National Council on Severe Autism, or the NCSA. She is determined to isolate epigenetic causes of autism, pushing for genetics research for everything from boomer generation fertility meds, grandfathers being in the coal mines, booze, cigarettes—whatever keeps those billions pouring in to the genetics lobby to waste and appropriate autism funds for eugenics.

Autistic people reject “severe” and “mild,” or “low” and “high,” functioning labels because they create a false hierarchy of how “human” someone is; whether they are capable of thought, complexity, and contributing value to the world. Autistic intelligence isn’t demonstrable by how well someone can perform on an IQ test, and intellectual disability does not make someone less valuable to humanity.

When an autistic person is non-speaking, this does not mean he or she is less intelligent. It means they do not have the neurological interconnectivity to coordinate the parts of the brain responsible for speech and those responsible for moving the mouth. It has little to do with intelligence.

If someone is incontinent, or uses a wheelchair or mobility aids, this does not mean that they are unintelligent. It means they don’t have the sensory perception to feel their internal needs and interpret them or they can’t control their motor function due to interconnectivity issues.

An autistic person with poor motor control may not be able to control what their body does.

But this is what Jill Escher has to say about her children who are non-speaking:

The text on the slide, regarding two of her three children, reads: “…incapable of talking, reading, writing, or any complex act or thought.”

Notice that for one of her children, there is no picture. It simply reads, “Not autistic, b[orn] 1997.” One of her children has a right to privacy, to not be turned into tragedy porn for the world, and to not have blogs and organizations and speeches and events revolving around the tragedy of their existence. That child is the non-autistic child.

From an Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services Hearing of 03-04-2015, Jill Escher referencing her son and autism fear-mongering:

Thank you members. My name is Jill Escher. I’m President of Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area and the mother of a son and a daughter who are both functionally incapacitated by severe forms of autism. I’m glad to see so many clients here today but I cannot bring my 16 year old son.

If he were here he would run about and screech. He would rip off his clothes. He would chew on your furnishings. He would denude your carpet and then he would run out that door to Lord knows where and that would just be the start of it.

I am here to bring up the elephant in the room and that is California’s autism population is exploding in a near exponential fashion. California’s adult autism population will double over the next five years, and will triple over the next 10.

This narrative that non-speaking autistic children are “incapable of complex acts or thoughts” is damning and tacitly false. Describing autistic people as if they are mythical forces of destruction, like some juggernaut chupacabra—is neither realistic, nor is it acceptable for a person whose life revolves around autism to characterize autistics this way.

The language is dehumanizing… at the very least.

Many autistic people who were given access to communication choice that works with their neurology write about how they were liberated. Philip Reyes, who writes with The Aspergian, wrote a piece called, “The Cage,” in which he relates,

Being able to communicate after many years of silence was like being let out of a cage.  I sat in this cage like a bird on display at the zoo.  People could not penetrate the glass of my cage. 

I did my best to make myself at home in the cage.  The cage was transparent and I could still sense the world.  I could lose myself in the world of colors, shapes, patterns, and rhythms. 

I did not share my experiences with others.  I had no means to share my thoughts.  I learned to keep myself occupied by teaching myself through my senses.  It was lonely not being able to communicate with anyone outside my cage.  I prayed I could leave the cage everyday.  My one comfort was talking to God.  I talked to him all the time. 

Philip is one of many autistic (and even non-autistic) non-speakers who has had success communicating with Rapid Prompting Method (RPM). RPM and FC (Facilitated Communication) have helped empower many non-speakers to share their words and experiences.

And they’ve been doing it for years. Bullying children. Bullying parents. Their core argument: non-speakers don’t have the intelligence to be the authors of their own words.

Circling Back to the #YangGang

Ever wonder why so many trolls and neoreactionary autistics are obsessed with Andrew Yang?

Well, for one, he’s promised to funnel significant federal funding into early interventions, ABA, for autistic children.

But then, it goes beyond that.

Further Reading:
Here’s Why Andrew Yang’s Alt-Right Supporters Think He’s the 2020 Candidate for White Nationalists
The Alt-Right’s Love Affair with Trump Is Over. Here’s Why.

Archive the Trolls

Go to or the Wayback Machine and archive the Tweet(s) by entering the web address and clicking “save.” You do not have to log in to do this. This means that the Tweets are saved forever on an archive that is viewable online. This increases transparency, too. If they delete their bullying tweets, the world can still read them.

You don’t need to interact with trolls in order to archive their bad behavior.

Further Reading:

To learn more about alternative political culture and how they are subverting human rights, visit the following :

RE Skeptics and Men’s Rights Activists:
The Magical Thinking of Guys Who Love Logic
Too Many Atheists Are Veering Dangerously Towards the Alt-Right

RE the weird metaphysical Nazism of the Dark Enlightenment/NeoReactionary movement that aspie supremacists love:
Premises of the Dark Enlightenment
Here’s the Dark Enlightenment Explainer You Never Wanted

Katie Wright is the anti-vaccine activist and daughter of Autism Speaks founder, Bob Wright.


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32 Responses

  1. I’ve been watching the MRAs and adjacent twatwaffles for a few years, mainly by reading We Hunted The Mammoth posts, but I hadn’t realised they’d joined up with the other usual suspects. I should have guessed but I’ve got a lot of the ADW blocked on Twitter.

    I’m mostly concerned about young boys getting radicalised by these groups. My nephew is at that age and it scares me. I might have to share this article with his mum so she knows what buzzwords (because, oh my gods, they all use the same!) to look out for.

    Excellent job as usual, peeps. Keep up the good work.

  2. I’ll begin by stating that I am pretty much clueless when it comes to the anti-neurodiversity movement. So, I graciously applaud the efforts made in this article. It was very informative and brings to light many things that I didn’t know existed (or at least didn’t know was such a big deal). And, while I agree with most of what is written here, I can’t help but point out a few problems.
    First, I think the grouping of people into say the alt-right is not wise. What is the alt-right? I am afraid the term is being used too broadly to cover people who are just conservative and/or have different political opinions from the writers of this article.
    Second, the quote – [“Quickly, as an aside, “Judeo-Christian values,” the phrase, is not meant to actually reference a religion. It’s a dogwhistle to the alt-right. Many people who frequently reference “Judeo-Christian” values just hate Muslims, ethnic minorities, immigrants, and social justice warriors.”] – While this may be the case in some instances, it is not true for most cases. I consider myself to have Judeo-Christian values, and almost everyone I know have these values. Now, you may disagree with those values, and that is fine, but our society is based on them. It is not a dogwhistle to the alt-right, and it does not express “hatred to Muslims, ethnic minorities, immigrants, and social justice warriors”.
    Third, in the “Usual Suspects” category number 4, the “autistic dark web”, I have problems with the way the writers of this article decide who fits into this category. I also disagree with the attack on the intellectual dark web. Now, does it cause some people to come up with crazy ideas? Yes. But I would argue it is needed to have actual conversations about real topics in a civil and orderly way. I also believe it is in poor taste to lump in Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, Sam Harris, and Jordan Peterson as enemies of the neurodiversity movement (or even as enemies, period.) From what I have read and watched from these four men, they would applaud this article and the speaking of the truth and sharing information. They wouldn’t be our enemies. In fact, in my own experience, Dr. Jordan Peterson has been a great help to me. So, I don’t know why they are mentioned here other than the fact that some people use them to espouse their own dangerous ideologies (e.g. Tom Clements).
    Overall this is a great article. My thanks to all who worked on it. – Ray

    1. From a Jewish perspective, even when it’s not being used as a dog whistle, it tends to be used by Christians paying lip service to inclusivity while erasing the very real differences between our beliefs and value systems. It often goes along with the view that Jews are really Christians who “aren’t quite there yet”, which while not quite as bad as original-flavour supersessionism is still the same kind of awful. You’re better off saying that your values are either Jewish or Christian – not only is it more specific (which we of all people should be encouraging) it carries a whole lot less baggage.

      1. I don’t disagree with you, and it might be better to specify either Jewish values or Christian values. But if we begin specifying either Jewish or Christian, it could also slide into specifying Christians among Christians, as there are many different divisions in Christendom, and many differ on values as well. For this reason, I believe most Christians use the term in reference to a certain set of principles or morality. For even in Christianity, the foundational values come from the Jewish Law and believing that the Christian God is the same as the Jewish God, and therefore they both stand on the same foundation. So, typically I think that Christians believe they have a lot of the same values as Jews since they come from the same God. I think they all believe in a fundamental or foundational set of values and principles, beginning with the statement that all people are created in the image of God and each individual has intrinsic value. But, yes, it is more complicated than this, and people have simplified it to its basic core of values and very often do misuse the term for their own personal bias. However, I don’t think that it is fair to say that everyone who uses this term (or even the majority) is doing the same.

        1. You’re right, Ray. I did edit the article to be more specific that some people are just using the term to couch bigotry. This article isn’t meant to disparage anyone’s faith or political ideas outside of highlighting how people can be manipulative and can subtly influence good people to become radicalized without realizing it by using “acceptable” language and pushing people farther and father– gradually, into very toxic beliefs. I do sincerely apologize if it seemed that we were insulting Christian or Jewish values. And you’re right, what those values mean for each person is different. There are three Abrahamic religions, and Islam is one of them. So, putting Judaism and Christianity together and excluding Islam is like a purposeful separation for radical bigots.

          1. Of course. I very much appreciate your feedback. There are many Jewish and Christian contributors at The Aspergian, as well as atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Muslims, and of other religious beliefs. We even have clergy members (a Rabbi and a Christian pastor).

  3. Thankyou for this. The recent Aeon article had me wondering what was happening in this space. It was like they had suddenly become Quillette while I wasn’t watching. This fills in the blanks for me.

  4. Severe autism exists. Severe autism is absolutely hell for those trapped in their own minds with no or very little way of communicating with those around them. I have Asperger’s. I am high functioning. I can tell people what’s wrong with me, what hurts, where I want to go and where I don’t. It is so, so offensive that people who can, to an extent, live normal lives, have normal jobs and normal relationships, are presuming to tell people like my cousin, who cannot talk, who screams at the pain of his own existence, who hits himself in frustration and was unable to tell his family that he was being abused on a daily basis by teachers at his school, that what he goes through isn’t something that needs to be “cured”. Any person with high functioning autism or Asperger’s fighting against work that will benefit severely autistic people needs to re-evaluate what they’re doing. It’s akin to someone with means who chooses to live off-grid in a tiny house or hut saying we shouldn’t be building more homes to house the homeless because it’s actually not that bad, while homeless people are raped, beaten, set on fire in their sleeping bags, and freeze to death in doorways.

    Honestly, you should be ashamed of yourself. Please think about what you’re doing and the impact it will have on those who cannot advocate for themselves.

    1. This is what a cure for Autism means:
      Changing the brain of an Autistic person so profoundly that they are essentially a completely different person in the same body.

      I don’t think you realize that to “cure” your cousin of Autism, you’d be essentially killing your cousin. His body would remain alive, yes, and there would be a new, socially acceptable version of him. You could pretend it was still him. You’d be fooling yourself. Your cousin would be gone, and someone else would be in his body.

      It is BEYOND offensive to tell someone like your cousin that he’s so broken he has to be essentially erased, changed so completely that he bears only a passing physical resemblance to the person he is. You’re talking about something I wouldn’t do to my worst enemy. I have to believe that you are only saying this because you haven’t considered the immense trauma that a true cure for Autism would cause not only your cousin but anyone who took it. I believe there has to be a way to support him without changing who he is to that extent.

      I start with the assumption that your cousin is capable of some learning, even if it’s nowhere near what I experience, and that he could be taught skills to start to allow him to communicate with his family. It sounds like he might be trying. The screaming and hitting himself might well be him struggling to communicate when he is in pain, although I’m not sure I would say it’s “at the pain of his own existence”– that’s a bit of a sweeping statement, don’t you think, and somehow, reading your post, I doubt he’s firmly communicated to you that all of his existence is pain.

      Even if he can’t communicate any better than he already is, his family could presumably be taught skills to understand him better. I assume they are capable of learning with therapy and support.

      I believe we can protect your cousin from future abuse and thus make his life less painful. I believe the right therapies can lessen the effects of his past abuse and allow him to heal. I believe we can support his family in supporting him. I know it’s expensive, and as an Autistic who isn’t as high functioning as you, who cannot have a normal life with normal relationships and a normal job (or, currently, any job), I can’t personally pay for it. I know it’s a lot of work. But that is where I believe the work and the money should go– giving your cousin all the therapy and support he needs to live his happiest life with the brain he was born with, not changing your cousin’s brain so that he’s essentially gone.

    2. Go back to Autism Speaks. This website is not for hateful people like you.

    3. Who the hell are you to speak for non-speaking people? You’re not Higashida Naoki or Amy Sequenzia, so unlike them, you have no right or even ability to presume the needs or skills of non-speaking autistic people.

  5. What is apparent is that the small group of obsessional people defined in this article, believe that the single minded pursuit of their own ideas – that cannot be argued with or debated – MUST be dominant.

    In the end, this is the same group that self identity as being autistic.

    That say that autism is a psychiatric disorder.

    That say that we should all be free to cure or not cure, treat or not treat, support or…oh no. They don’t.

    Because if you look carefully there seems to be NO CAPACITY to admit that the world of autism is all individuals. All you read are these massive generalisations and absolute statements.

    My point is that if you get a headache trying to penetrate the hyper – lexicon use of terminology and concepts being used as weapons by them to win some sort of war they have invented, I think you have a clear picture of what’s really happening here.

    Autistics being obsessional, single minded and self focused autistics.

    Autistics lost in their own, unanchored pursuit of intellectual justification for how they feel.

    Autistics following their natures.

    There is not necessarily anything ‘real’ to argue about. Simple the manifestation of opinionated people who have ulterior motives such as ABA and some notion that they have a disabled relative who cannot lead an independent life – and that that’s it. That is real autism. Like the concept of autism not being relative to individuals does not exist. As if the true way to understand everything is in binary…which sounds curiously familiar doesn’t it?

    If autism is nothing more than a psychiatric disorder, how come the people who claim to have it debate like this? What is all this siding with each other and claiming intellectual superiority over….having a mental illness?

    What kind of impairment of the thinking causes people to get qualifications about it, then form political schisms in a greater Neurodiversity Movement (a metaphorical term) and argue all the time?

    What kind of sickness of the brain makes people develop long term, stable, positive relationships with each other. In which they find kinship and agree about things. Then work as a team against others whom they perceive, oppose their views?

    Mental illness which brings about political views, schisms and debates?


  6. Phenomenal work cataloguing this. It deserves a fl response, but in short – as a small idea to consider – the material overlap between the tactical PR of these people bears a deeply unsettling similarly to antisemitic proppganda. In particular the fetishisation of the success of Silicon Valley individuals, and the link to high powered autistics secretly running things behind the scenes.
    Not a counter to the article, which I think is a sensational piece of Well-researched writing, rather just adding (as an autistic Jewish person) the thought into the mix.
    Thank you for such a monumental amount of work.

  7. Fuck Andrew Yang and Jill Escher. The evil they have done is unforgivable. What’s even worse is I’ve never heard anyone call them out on their hateful bigotry. As crazy as it sounds, I’d much have Trump as president than Yang any day. Trump says crazy things but at least he doesn’t want to pump funds into ABA or ban automation that could help people like me thrive in the workforce. No wonder alt-right conspiracy theorists love Yang. Ron Jakowski from GTA 5 would be a huge Yang supporter. Jill Escher is even worse because she literally sympathises with Nazis and eugenics cults. Fuck that evil piece of shit. Escher is the female equivalent of Richard Kunin, who is burning in hell where Escher will be sent for her evil ways.

  8. I'm a parent of a 'severe' autistic child, and I think Jill Escher is evil!!! says:

    Jill Escher is a pro eugenicist narcissistic sociopath who will burn like a gas lamp in hell for how much methane-rich bullshit she spews. She is an evil, moral-less woman who gets herself off to the idea of treating autistic individuals as her own special little playthings to hurt and abuse. She is a modern day Mengele. I hope to god she reads this, and knows exactly what the world thinks of her. She is a murderous tyrant, and the sooner she is locked away and her credibility tarnished, the better. She will gladly kill our children for her own delights, she MUST be locked away. She PRAISED the scenes in Sia’s godawful movie that demonstrated dangerous restraint techniques, she’s PRAISED the murder of autistic individuals, and she even faked a letter by an autistic child to defend the movie. She only has murder on her mind, she has to be stopped!!!

  9. I appreciate and support your effort to self-define. I request that you allow others to do the same. Please investigate the origin and meaning of the term “Judeo-Christian tradition”. There is no such thing. To many members of the ethno-religious group called Jews this term is deeply offensive. We do not share traditions and values or practices with Christians. Christian nations and church leaders have cooperated in the oppression, torture and murder of much of our people. To say that we are part of a joint tradition makes no sense and it is cruel.

    The term “Judeo-Christian” is a modern apology for the centuries of oppression and murder that Christian nations have brought upon Jews. I and many of my people do not accept this form of apology. We do not want more attempts to erase our distinctiveness. Although some Jews are eager for the access to power that being lumped with Christians can give them—it isn’t accurate term. And many of us abhor it.

    There is an explicit Christian doctrine that argues that Christians replaced the children of Israel in a special relationship with G-d. Part of that effort is treating Jewish sacred texts and prophecies to new interpretations and claiming Jewish holy texts as their own (despite not understanding them or following the rules). This doctrine is called supersessionism. Look it up. Some would argue that the holocaust was an attempt to culminate this replacement.

    1. Christianity originated as an offshoot of Judaism, and they share the Old Testament. That is a commonality of sources. Talk if a common tradition simply describes that. Not all Christians agreed with the atrocities of religious authorities in the Middle Ages, but they were not allowed to voice their disagreement, or the Inquisition would come for them too. Liberal Christians now clearly don’t. It’s offensive the same as to blame all Muslims for terrorism, to blame all Christians for the pre-democratic historical actions of Christian states. You portray all Christians as villains.
      The ancient religion of Gnostics, wiped out by the thirteenth century, was on the fringes of both the ancient Jewish and early Christian worlds. Defined by the ancients and nothing whatever to do with a present-day new-agey Gnostic cult that has pinched their name, I have most theologically in common with Gnosticism, so list it as my religion, while I find its closest available expression socially in belonging to liberal Anglicanism, and I have some Jewish descent, and like the feeling that not eating meat aligns me as agreeing with the Jewish rule on pork. So Judeo-Christian tradition is an accurate description of my valid position’s location, not to be cancelled.

    2. We do not share traditions and values or practices with Christians.

      Your Torah is our Old Testament. So that’s one thing we share.

      Christian nations and church leaders have cooperated in the oppression, torture, and murder of much of our people.

      As a Jewish nation and its Synagogues co-operate in the oppression, torture, and murder of Palestinian people. Remove the beam from your own eye before pointing out the splinter in mine.

  10. This article is really poorly written. It’s not exactly wrong and it’s not exactly right, either. It’s like reading someone who’s translated the most suspect pages in the Bible into Tagalog and then back into English again using Google Translate. Not really, it’s not that bad, but it’s a great example of the Gell-Mann effect, only in this case, it’s not that the person hasn’t heard of what they’re talking about because they’ve literally chosen to do some preliminary research on a topic that interests them – and then stop there and go no further so that they can allow their own biases to make up for writing something that actually makes sense.

    Do people in the manosphere like extreme male brain theory? Yes, but only if they’re either autistic people who think it will make them seem smarter than everyone else in context or general misogynists looking to grift for a couple of hours. It doesn’t help the average autistic person to subscribe to the extreme male brain theory because that ignores the obvious existence of autistic women and autistics of trans experience, and it actually harms a lot of the people who’d otherwise want to subscribe to it because it makes it easier for their critics to call them misogynists or claim that they are ‘malebrained’ rather than ‘male pilled’, and it doesn’t help neurotypical grifters who pretend to believe in it for over an hour, because that would involve claiming that they’re dumber than the average autistic person.

    But sure (gen), there will be *some* autistic men who subscribe to it anyway, because, why wouldn’t there be?

    The author assumes that ‘aspie supremacy’ and ‘extreme male brain theory’ are the same thing. Yeah, they’re used in the same ways if you’re an autistic person who thinks having an extreme male brain is a good thing or a conservative who wants to prove that men are smarter than women, or a misogynist who thinks that having a couple of nerds being better at chess than most women is the same as saying that most women are dumber than most men, but for everyone else who believes in one, the other or both, they’re different things.

    Plenty of neurotypical women believe in the male brain theory – they think it makes autistic men creepy, and they don’t think aspies are better than everyone else. Plenty of aspies used to believe in aspie supremacy, some still do – and some of those people were women and girls who think the male brain theory is bullshit (or men who think it’s an excuse to demonize either their autistic or male behaviours, or both at the same time).

    There are also people who believe in both and aren’t who you’d think, because the male brain theory isn’t saying that autistic people are men, it’s an inconclusive theory saying that autistic people regardless of sex are more manly because they’re pumped full of testosterone. Some Feminists claim that this makes girls less autistic (which is dubious, although it’s true that autism tends to manifest differently in most, but not all, women compared to men) and some trans activists say that it explains why so many afab autistic women are transmasculine or nonbinary (which is plausible, but ignores the wider context of the discussion).

    The male brain theory, despite what the article implies, also isn’t some reactionary theory; it’s a theory coined by Simon Baron-Cohen (who is admittedly from a privileged, conservative, and elitist background, and potentially used to be sexist, but isn’t openly reactionary and has currently done an apparent 180 on most of his thoughts on the issue) and based on scientific (not social science, but actual brain scans) research by a series of different psychiatrists who didn’t receive as much credit (some of whom were women and many of whom were progressives who wanted the research to be wrong) – albeit research based on a series of very shaky assumptions that involve reading into and projecting neuronormative ideas onto the evidence shown.

    Do incels believe in male supremacy? Yeah, some of the male ones do, but that doesn’t make ‘alt-right’ rhetoric and ‘incel rhetoric’ the same thing. Incel rhetoric is about calling members of the opposite sex (or the same sex if you’re a lesbian, gay men could be incels in theory, but tend to have better luck) prejudiced assholes because you can’t find any suitable partners (which tends to go badly if the incels in question are straight men, because….well, work it out for yourselves), commiserating the fact that you’re too ugly/socially inept etc., to find a partner, or complaining about manipulative arsehole pick-up artist types who steal all the good ones, until you get desperate enough to pay for them to give you their tips; alt-right rhetoric is about believing that bigots have a point and that if you use the right cherry picked sources, you can prove it (e.g. a discussion on the number of brown Islamic immigrants who attacked white women in Cologne).

    Don’t get me wrong, there IS a link when it comes to beliefs about Feminism, but it’s a far more tenuous one than the article suggests. Some male incels believe that Feminism is responsible for making it harder for men in general and socially awkward or autistic men specifically to date, and some members of the alt-right will find any excuse to “prove” to people that Feminism or any other social movement that challenges the status quo must be a bad idea designed by the politically correct, rather than a series of legitimate social movements which some people accuse of occasionally producing unforseen negative consequences.

    Anyway, now, let’s look at “Aspie Supremacy” itself. Aspie Supremacists are indeed *currently* working to discredit the neurodiversity movement, but saying that in isolation and with reference to the other beliefs you’ve mentioned creates a really misleading impression of what Aspie Supremacism is and what the people who believe or believed in it think.

    Aspie Supremacy was an offshoot of the Neurodiversity movement; it believes that people with Aspergers are better than those without. This started off because some autistic people in the Neurodiversity movement believed that they were more capable than neurotypical people, and started an autistic supremacy movement (there ARE real benefits to being autistic over not being autistic – it’s not the same as, say, a movement for people with broken legs or racism – but that isn’t enough to prove incontrovertibly that autistic people are more capable, let alone better people, than the average allistic or neurotypical person).

    Then, people realized that taking the “autism as a difference, not a disability” rhetoric literally would mean that their autistic supremacy movement no longer made much sense, because that would involve calling people who were evidently impaired on account of their autism (such as nonverbal autistics or the ‘severely’ autistic) ‘not disabled’ and therefore *less*, not more, capable than the average person.

    In response, people with Aspergers who identified as autistic supremacists decided to limit the movement to people who only had Aspergers and not anyone with autism. This might have been OK if the Aspie Supremacists were just stating the obvious, but many of them followed the elitist and borderline ableist belief that being more capable in terms of ability and having more inherent worth was the same thing, which in turn meant that autistic people who were clearly more impaired and therefore less capable than the average person were considered too disabled to be part of their club (they also had a tendency to deny that the talents they had were ALSO shared by more impaired autistic people).

    In response to hearing about classically autistic people with obvious milestone delays and more permanently impaired autistic people being thrown under the bus, the Neurodiversity movement decided to go full force behind supporting *autistic* people over *people with Aspergers*, even celebrating when terms like Aspergers were removed, despite – or perhaps because of – the fact that that meant they didn’t have any decent names for the people they didn’t like.

    This subsequently pissed off a lot of people with Aspergers who were NOT Aspie Supremacists, but still recognized that Aspergers was its own thing, or that were only Aspie Supremacists inasmuch as they recognized the obvious (although, to be honest, being a less impaired autistic isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. People with Aspergers still have sensory and gut issues and people with classic autism who overcome their difficulties often fair better than people with Aspergers).

    Aspie Supremacy IS considered a bigoted viewpoint by many – but that’s because of ableism, not sexism or politics. Yes, some of the people being talked about DO follow Aspie Supremacist logic, but it’s still it’s own thing – but a lot also don’t.

    If you’re convinced that Neurodiversity is nonsense, or wish to maintain good relationships with allistic people, that probably means you’re suspicious of Aspie Supremacy, too; if autistic people aren’t supreme or ‘just different’, then maybe aspies aren’t, either.

    The author also points out that a lot of views *sound* sensible, but are really done by people who write alt-right drivel – yeah, that’s a thing. You don’t need to discredit people who disagree with you on autism to do that, you just need to look at Lauren Southern’s old youtube videos. The fact that anti-Neurodiversiity movements are propped up by reactionaries like Thomas Clements doesn’t constitute proof that the current, mainstream Neurodiversity movement is good or correct, anymore than the existence of Hitler proves that Stalin or Ghengis Khan was good.

    Now, let’s get to “All in a row” and other plays like it. I probably shouldn’t waste energy on this one, because its, well, a f**king play. Anyone can find a play that poorly depicts minorities offensive, and anyone can grift about it, either to promote Neurodiversity or to pretend that the “woke neurodiversity culture has gone too far”, or whatever other bullshit flavour of the month you feel like attributing to a mediocre play.

    For the record, these plays are written by middle class people who find themselves strapped for cash because all the mainstream theatres have been taken over by Andrew Lloyd Webbers’ cabal and they need to employ a broke-but-has-privileged-parents millenial student to produce something and make it about minorities so that people will pay attention to it.
    Lastly, I’ve seen comments about “white people who feel left out because things aren’t about them anymore” and male centric beliefs that “transcend neurotype”. The former is largely true, but it also paints a picture which makes it sound like wealthy white men are the only people who support conservative values or feel that supposedly privileged folk are under attack, when in reality, socially conservative beliefs aren’t exclusively limited to people who fit the mould.

    The second thing, about beliefs that “transcend neurotype” are a bit more complicated. Are autistic people capable of being bigoted and putting themselves first? Sure, but that’s not the whole story.

    For the sake of argument, let’s say we’re not talking about white autistic men in general, but gay men general; would it make sense to say that white gay men in general who wanted a place for themselves were being bigots?

    If you’re talking about men at a gay bar or somesuch, then sure – that’s a valid argument. But what if that same gay man was in a public space that was geared towards straight people, and someone either said something homophobic, or accused them of being too privileged to understand what other people go through under the assumption that they were straight; would that assessment be fair?

    Now, let’s say that the local lgbtqi+ group, for whatever reason, doesn’t want white men in their group. Maybe they’re forgetting that white men can be gay, or maybe they have a semi-legitimate complaint about white gay men making other gay or trans people uncomfortable. OK, that’s their perogative – maybe they have good reasons for it, or people assume that all gay people are white men – but what if *every* lgbtqi+ group does the same? Then, it stops being a way to make more marginalized people feel comfortable, and it starts to become an excuse to alienate white gay men. White men who are straight are OK; they have no reason to attend the lgbtqi+ conferences and gay bars and the like. Other gay people are fine – the group is geared towards them. White gay men are left with nowhere to go.

    Now, let’s imagine that all the alternative spaces they’d go to are viruntly homophobic.

    Now, replace ‘white gay men’ in your head with ‘white autistic men’, and you’ll begin to see why many white autistic men are a wee bit paranoid, .

    The other thing to bear in mind, is that without wishing to patronize my fellow autistic people, many of us are a bit clueless – like a five year old child with billionaire parents, or a boomer joining an Internet forum for the first time. But when you’re young, being clueless seems unthreatening or cute; when you’re visibly a member of a minority, being clueless feels humanising; when you’re visibly from a more privileged background (in terms of upbringing) than the people around you are, and over a certain age, you just come off as ignorant.

    Don’t get me wrong, double minorities do have the right to a ‘safe space’ where they don’t have to babysit their privileged peers. But, that also means that clueless people need a space to go to where they don’t get their heads bitten off.

    When it comes to clueless neurotypical people, plenty such spaces exist, despite the fact that their ignorance is often very feigned and deliberate. But when it comes to autistic people who are clueless, they’re expected to know what to say in advance. In the past, autistic spaces were the one place where people recognized that their cluelessness wasn’t borne out of malice.

    But as autistic spaces are becoming inevitably more diverse, a lot of autistic people who’ve either been brought up not being understood by anyone or have had their differences besides autism easily visible and understood by almost everyone aren’t necessarily going to be super accomodating to people who are clueless towards THEM – after all, if they are autistic themselves, why should they?

    So, you wind up with Jimbo who’s never seen a gay person before in his life sharing time with Mason who’s on his fifth gay partner and is out and proud, or Tarquin, the white guy whose only experience of black people is being bullied by ableist black folk with misplaced homophobia and lives in a lily white middle class neighbourhood supposedly getting on with Milo the black guy who just got pulled over twice this week by the cops and got arrested in school by racist teachers for having a meltdown while black, which is fine if everyone assumes that they’re here to learn from each other, but is NOT fine if every second clueless statement a privileged autistic person makes is mistaken as bigotry by tired mediators and double minorities who’ve had their feelings hurt (which is not a small deal).

    So, obviously, a lot of people from minority backgrounds are going to think twice about sharing an autism venue with privileged autistic folk who can’t keep their mouths shut, but that also means that many privileged autistic people who have a backlash to making their spaces more inclusive aren’t doing it just because they’re bigoted, but because what they thought was a group therapy session with people who looked like them has suddenly become the local student union overnight, and no longer feels accessible to them; there’s no benefit to going to a group if they’re just going to get kicked out and accused of racism or sexism or homophobia when that’s just an average day at work for them, they’d almost be better off just sticking with neurotypical people and hoping that they don’t wind up on the recieving end of some ableist slurs when the only people who’ll listen to them are the people who watch Fox News or read The Sun and the Daily Mail 24/7.

  11. Edit: ‘it would therefore imply that autistic people who were severely impaired were more capable than the average neurotypical person, when all the evidence suggested that they were less capable’

  12. Since Escher clearly doesn’t believe that the allistic father of an autistic little girl who doesn’t agree with her should be allowed to publicly debate her, I am going to replicate the comment I left on her 2021 second unfair criticism of NeuroTribes.

    OK, let’s take your arrant nonsense piece by piece.

    …including [Silberman’s] baseless denial of any increase in autism and [his] characterization of autism as a mere form of neurodiversity…

    Actually, stating the fact that there has been no increase in the true prevalence (the number of actual cases) of autism is not at all denying the increase in incidence (the number of officially recognised cases) and the estimated prevalence that is based on incidence. Also, autism is a form of neurodiversity just like neurotypicality is, but again, that’s not the same thing as saying there is never associated disability, especially when it comes to autistic features such as atypical sensory perception and atypical sensory processing, or co-occurring conditions such as epilepsy and intellectual disability, or even the arrogance and reduced empathy and theory of mind that are so classic of neurotypicality and become disabilities for anyone dealing with such an individual. In fact, that’s what makes me happy to be an ADHDer, and therefore not neurotypical, even though it’s probably what caused my daughter’s autism and associated intellectual disability and speech disorder.

    [Silberman] essentially accused Kanner, one of the leading child psychiatrists of his day and well known for writing the 1943 paper first describing the condition, of […] sidelining countless [hundreds] of [autistic children] by hewing to a narrow definition of the [neurodivergence]. The latent “tribe” of [autistic people] (who somehow escaped [the] notice not only of Kanner, but basically every clinician and chronicler through the millenia) only began to receive due recognition decades later through the English translation of work by Dr. Asperger, who we are told heroically saved many of his “tribe” from the terrible fate of extermination at the hands of the Nazis. [Blatant lies corrected and hate speech removed].

    Here’s the thing: Leo Kanner himself boasted about how many children he had turned away from his clinic because they were from poor and/or non-white families or because they had intellectual disabilities (then called ‘feeblemindedness’), thus not fitting the artificially narrow demographic he had constructed, and that number did indeed reach into the hundreds. As for Aspies (the ‘latent tribe’ to which you refer), no one even considered that they might be autistic until Lorna Wing and Judith Gould undertook an epidemiological study of all children with physical and intellectual disabilities in one area of London in an attempt to identify all who were autistic or had autistic characteristics whatever their level of intelligence and found many more children who were autistic, but just didn’t meet the criteria for autism of the time, than Wing and Gould had expected (Wing and Gould, 1979). Additionally, it wasn’t just Aspies who “escaped the notice of basically every clinician and chronicler through the millenia,” was it? If you’re going to exaggerate (turning ‘hundreds’ into ‘millions’, for example), watch out that it doesn’t come back to bite you. Finally, I suppose I must thank you for showing your hypocrisy by ignoring Silberman’s 2018 edition of NeuroTribes, in which he includes the information brought to light in the same year by Herwig Czech. Before that, he had had to rely on the story as told by Lorna Wing and Hans Asperger himself, so you really should have a go at them instead. You might have to dig them up first, though; they died in 2014 and 1980 respectively.

    …autistic psychopathy’ (which has little to do with autism as we know it today; rather, it was more akin to a personality disorder…)

    Really? Because although it’s true that the ‘autistic psychopaths’ (‘autistischen psychopathen‘ in the original German) described by Asperger bear little resemblance to people given the label of Asperger’s syndrome/’disorder’ under the ICD-10 and DSM-IV/DSM-IV-TR, they did have sufficient autistic features that I recognised them. For instance, in the description of Fritz V., Asperger wrote, “Another strange phenomenon in this boy was the occurrence of certain stereotypic movements and habits.” Sound like anyone you know? Additionally, he noted similarities in behavior between the boys he described as ‘autistic psychopaths’ and some of their family members (Fritz V.’s mother, father, and maternal grandfather being cases in point), which familial pattern hasn’t been observed in personality disorders. Also, as Uta Frith noted in ‘Autistic Psychopathy [sic]’ in Childhood, “While conduct problems are highly prominent [features] in Asperger’s cases, they are not in Kanner’s sample, although the problems mentioned there do include aggressive and destructive behaviour. This difference can perhaps be explained by the more child-centred attitudes prevalent in the United States at the time, while in Europe, the instilling of respect and discipline had remained a major aspect of education.“ Basically, Asperger saw his patients’ behaviour as deliberate, so of course that’s how he described it. Who is it that lacks theory of mind, again? Because so far, it doesn’t seem to be my daughter or those like her.

    Autism experts James Harris, MD, former director of Child Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, and Joseph Piven, MD, of University of North Carolina, addressed “recent media accounts and books” without mentioning Silberman by name, to correct his misrepresentation of Kanner as a proponent of parent-blaming, noting that Kanner had long fought against psychoanalytic theories that blame mothers.

    Not until 1969, two decades since he published a paper in 1949, in which he clearly said of the children, “They were kept neatly in refrigerators which did not defrost” (Kanner, 1949: p. 425). Even in his first paper on autism Kanner said, “One other fact stands out prominently: In the whole group, there are very few really warmhearted fathers and mothers. For the most part, the parents, grandparents, and collaterals are persons strongly pre‑occupied with abstractions of a scientific, literary, or artistic nature, and limited in genuine interest in people. Even some of the happiest marriages are rather cold and formal affairs. Three of the marriages were dismal failures. The question arises whether or to what extent this fact has contributed to the condition of the children” (Kanner, 1943: p. 250).
    And from a book written by Adam Feinstein:
    Although Kanner’s 1943 paper does apparently make the claim that the parents of autistic children are cold and detached, he always claimed that he had never actually blamed the parents. It seems peculiar, then, that he felt the need to announce to the 1969 meeting of the [US’] National Society for Autistic Children (later the Autism Society of America): “Herewith, I especially acquit you people as parents.” In that famous address, he declared:
    I have been misquoted many times. From the very first publication until the last, I spoke of this condition in no uncertain terms as “innate.” But because I described some of the characteristics of the parents as persons, I was misquoted often as having said that “it is all the parents’ fault.” Those of you parents who have come to see me with your children know that this isn’t what I said. As a matter of fact, I have tried to relieve parental anxiety when they had been made anxious because of such speculation (Feinstein, 2010: pp. 34–35).
    So Kanner didn’t just blame the parents of autistic people for causing their children’s autism, he flat-out lied about it too. The evidence is right there; are you going to continue to ignore it and deny your god’s own words?

    Dr. Harris called NeuroTribes a “biased portayal” driven by a “neurodiversity agenda” and has explained in detail how Kanner was a deeply compassionate clinician, and not the calculating egomaniac described in the book.

    Dr. Harris is clearly a biased individual driven by an anti-Autism Rights agenda. After all, I have shown that Kanner originated the ‘refrigerator mother’ hypothesis of autism etiology and how egregiously he lied about having done so, and it really doesn’t get less compassionate and more calculating than that.

    Neuroscientist Manuel Casanova, MD agreed, saying the book “maligned Kanner’s role in the history of autism while praising that of Hans Asperger,” a “biased appraisal of history […] made for the sole purpose of upholding some erroneous views stemming from the Neurodiversity movement.” Casanova also stresses that NeuroTribes “trivializes the plight of those more severely affected and who can’t benefit from just having better accommodations.”

    Manuel Casanova is another biased individual that conflates neurodiversity and Autism Rights, and then proceeds to attack both. There’s a member of NCSA who also does that, but I just can’t bring her name to mind at the minute. As for Harris, Piven, and Casanova being autism experts, their expertise doesn’t reach anywhere near the level of that of autistic adults, going by what these three individuals have said about the neurodivergence. In fact, trusting them on anything to do with autism rather than members of the Autistic community is like taking your car to the local garage and leaving it in the hands of an unsupervised trainee because he’s a professional rather than asking your next door neighbor to do you the favor of taking a look at it on the basis that she’s an amateur when you know she regularly fixes her own vehicle.

    According to Silberman, Kanner was also a plagiarist of Asperger’s ideas, via an intermediary named Georg Frankl, a child psychiatrist who had fled Austria for the United States in 1938. However, Vicedo and Ilerbaig show that Kanner did not misappropriate Georg Frankl’s ideas or his research, as presented in NeuroTribes. The researchers note that Kanner presented his views on autism as early as 1941 and that his “proposal that autistic disturbances of the affects constituted a hitherto unidentified condition that was inborn and different from childhood schizophrenia was new.” They demonstrate that Kanner developed his views based on observations of Donald T., the first patient described in his paper, and several other children with autistic features, his knowledge of the existing literature on childhood conditions, and his interactions with many scholars. They showed Frankl was not a ‘middle man’ who passed Asperger’s ideas or specific views from Vienna to Baltimore and that Kanner adopted.

    “The researchers note that Kanner presented his views on autism as early as 1941…” “…Georg Frankl, a child psychiatrist who had fled Austria for the United States in 1938.” Can you do the math? Kanner worked with Georg Frankl for three whole years and he never got any ideas from him in that time? Ion think so. As for the idea of autism as different from childhood schizophrenia being new, that depends on how short a period of time you think 15 years is.

    They also correct other misrepresentations by Silberman, including his assertion that Kanner concealed his connection with Frankl…

    Which claim Silberman never made. He only said that he had been surprised to recognise Frankl’s name in Kanner’s 1943 paper after first reading it in Asperger’s work. Who’s guilty of misrepresentation now?

    …that Frankl owed Kanner his life (Kanner did not help Frankl flee Austria or save him “from the gas chambers,” as Silberman wrote)…

    True. Kanner only financed the escape of many Jewish physicians from Nazi-allied Austria, including Anni Weiss and Georg Frankl. Oh, wait…

    …his suggestion that Kanner was tainted by a lust for fame…

    Evidence provided by Kanner’s own words, which are as follows: “Since 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far…” In summary: “Oh, wow! Look at me! I’ve discovered a new condition and I’m so proud of myself that I’m using the royal ‘we’! (Let’s not mention Grunya Efimovna Sukhareva, whose work was translated into my first language in 1926.)” Kanner does seem pretty much like a glory-hound to me.

    Kanner was the first to [mis]identify autism as its own category of psychiatric pathology.

    I repeat: Grunya Efimovna Sukhareva’s report on ‘schizoid psychopaths’, published in 1926 and translated into German in 1932.

    Kanner said autism was a very rare condition in the 1940s (and in succeeding decades).

    How else was he supposed to keep the criteria artificially narrow for all those decades before the big institutions started closing down, causing the biggest explosion in incidence as all the people considered to be ‘retarded’, ‘brain-damaged’, and ‘schizophrenic/psychotic’ leaving them were correctly classified as autistic for the first time in their lives? Kanner must have been turning in his freshly dug grave!

    Kanner characterized autism as a serious medical condition, not a glorious diversity.

    Actually, Kanner characterized autism as childhood schizophrenia (Kanner, 1949: pp. 419–420), which is psychiatric, not medical. He was also completely wrong. And if autism isn’t a form of neurodiversity (glorious or otherwise), then humans aren’t a form of biodiversity. Maybe we should focus on ‘curing’ humanity out of existence and kill two birds with one stone by also eliminating autism. What do you think?


    Blatant lies removed.

    I said it in 2016 and I’ll say it again here:
    “In closing, NCSA is a phase—some epidemic-manifesto-wreckage on the road toward progress in the understanding of this explosion of abnormal hate speech we call anti-neurodiversity. While I believe that, like many trendy discriminations before it, autism hatred, too, shall pass, I also fear it may do lasting damage to our society’s collective quest for the truth under the onslaught of this extremely serious explosion of verbal diarrhea.”

    FTFY. YW.

    You know what strikes me as funny? I’ve listed half the number of citations that you have, and yet I’ve proven that I’m far more informed despite having accessed fewer sources. Guess my reading comprehension’s just that much better than yours. Now can you please stop attacking and hurting people like my six-year-old non-speaking daughter and getting in the way of their access to essential supports? Thank you.

    Feinstein, A. (2010). A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers [sic] Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
    Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact. Nervous Child, 2, 217–250.
    Kanner, L. (1949). Problems of Nosology and Psychodynamics in Early Infantile Autism. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 19(3), 416–426.
    Silberman, S. (2015; reissue 2018). NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. New York: Avery.
    Wing, L. and Gould, J. (1979). Severe Impairments [sic] of Social Interaction and Associated Abnormalities [sic] in Children: Epidemiology and Classification. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders [sic] 9, 11–29.

  13. In the comments on the blogpost of Jill Escher’s second attack on NeuroTribes on Manuel Casanova’s blog, an anti-Autism Rights autistic autism ‘researcher’ named Sam Fellowes posted a link to his woefully misinformed paper also attacking NeuroTribes (along with In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker [not recommended due to the ableist language employed by the authors]). What follows is my response to the relevant comment.

    Very interesting indeed. I particularly noticed and appreciated the following:

    [Steve] Silberman links this lack of support with autism being too narrowly conceived before the 1980s. However, Silberman’s history does not cover pre-1980s diagnosis for adults or pre-1980s services available for individuals only diagnosed as adults. Without addressing these issues, Silberman cannot support claims that implementing the 1980s autistic spectrum [led] to increased access to services.

    The sentences quoted above make a very pertinent point that is right up there with criticism of the modern-day ignorance of computer technologies of the late 1560s and antiviral medications of the early Victorian period in England.

    Following excised from original comment for reasons: As anyone who has done actual research knows, the criteria for autism didn’t first enter the DSM and ICD until the 1980s, and even then noted only the behaviour of children (based on the content of the ICD-9). The fact that autism can exist in adulthood wasn’t officially acknowledged before the release of the ICD-10 in 1993 (in the criteria for use in formal identification), which is why Temple Grandin introduced herself in several parent-oriented autism conferences as a “recovered [sic] autistic person” before eventually coming to realise that she is actually still autistic. In addition, properly conducted investigation reveals the facts that people meeting broader 1980s criteria for autism through the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s were generally misclassified as ‘mentally retarded’, ‘brain damaged’, or ‘schizophrenic/psychotic’ when they were diagnosed at all, and very often warehoused in institutions for the rest of their lives as the only ‘autism service’ on offer. If you (Fellowes) are going to attack a work on the basis that it is lacking in facts, the least you can do is rebut it with actual facts gained from empirical research, not the unsourced (and unsourceable) results of blue sky thinking.*

    *Not that I am attacking blue sky thinking, which can be useful. I’m only criticizing Fellowes’ apparent use of it where it is inappropriate.

  14. Philip is one of many autistic (and even non-autistic) non-speakers who has had success communicating with Rapid Prompting Method (RPM).

    And Tito Mukhopadyay, whose mother invented the method to help him.

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