This entire piece stood out to me, originally from the written point of view from someone on the spectrum and then furthermore to the points made within the paper. What really struck me though was in the beginning where Ne’eman begins the dueling narratives, the first one by Portia Iverson. She writes in her book Strange Son, “It was his mind they came for. They came to steal his mind. Before anyone could give it a name, even before I knew what it was, I knew it was in our house. I can’t say exactly how I knew. Except that I could feel it. Not that I wanted to. Believe me. They were very, very dark things. And there was no way to get rid of them. Sometimes I could hear them, late at night, when the house was very quiet; a creaking sound, an inexplicable hiss, a miniscule pop, a whistle out of nowhere…Night after night I sat beside his crib. I knew he was slipping away from us, away from our world…And then one day it happened. He was gone.” First off even though it wasn’t a direct reading for the course, this has hands down one of the most rage invoking pieces I’ve read this semester. There’s a lot to deconstruct, especially regarding negative connotations toward autism. First with the book itself being titled Strange Son, it already allows for the stereotypes to be applied to autism. Within the quote, who is they? Iverson writes as if her son was not born with autism, rather that some ghost or alien came into the house and possessed him. Referring to “they came to steal his mind”, it furthermore contributes to the incorrect generalization that autism means intellectually dumb or lacking. No one stole your son’s mind, and there’s nothing wrong with him. Additionally her overestimation of being able to ‘feel’ something was ‘wrong’ with her child? The entire paragraph sickened me. To assume that some sort of evil being took over your son or that autism ‘stole’ who your son is just completely removes any agency for an individual with autism and dehumanizes them. Quite frankly there was not one part in this excerpt that didn’t make me angry.
When quoted in Ne’eman’s paper, she refers to Portia Iverson as a parent and founder of Cure Autism Now. Those words alone tell us what we already need to know; that Iverson and others with her same view simply discriminate against individuals on the spectrum and see autism as a sickly disease. I decided to look the organization up and although there’s not much on it, I found a link discussing the differences between anti autism and autism accepting charities and organizations, which I found to be an interesting and important read. https://intheloopaboutneurodiversity.wordpress.com/2019/11/28/good-autistic-advocacy-organizations-vs-bad-autism-charities/
This article goes deeper into the means and organizations of autism groups, and separates ones that may seem charitable, but actually do more harm than good in the autistic community. Additionally, the diction used in the titles of the organizations can often be a strong teller for their inclusion and celebration of neurodiversity or lack thereof. For example the controversy of organizations like Autism Speaks which claim to be inclusive, yet the money raised is donated to science to find a curre, which furthermore contributes to a negative connotation on autism to be seen as a disease.