Friday, June 15, 2012

Calling Mitsubishi out on funding Neurodiversity

Warning: This post is likely to be upsetting or even offensive to some readers.  I apologize for this.  I hope that by writing frankly, I can stir up some feelings on this issue and perhaps even help some people to understand why this issue is important. It's a difficult line to walk, stirring up feeling without offending. Hopefully I won't cause too many issues.

There's an article out by the canary party which seeks to highlight issues in Mitsubishi's funding of a charity.  It's well worth a read.


See: Mitsubishi Funds Group that Opposes Preventing or Curing Autism
http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=b62698a50aececa2aded9f56b&id=14c79a482a&e=7835a237fe

It's a perfect example of what is wrong with so many of the autism campaigns out there.

First of all, the canary party complains that the charity being funded "opposes all efforts to cure or prevent autism, denies an increase in autism prevalence and now seeks to promote this form of “activism” among college students nationwide."

Let me be clear.
Any funding going towards assisting people with autism is worthwhile.

The exception I think, is when that funding is used to support top-heavy management or when it is used to fight other autism charities.  I don't believe that ASAN qualifies under either of those.  I'm happy for them to "oppose efforts to cure autism" but I'd hate to see them spending their money there.  I hope they're spending it on helping people with autism instead.

It's the same reason that I don't support most cancer charities.  They spend their money on research which I believe should be funded by government and private industry.  After all, the inventors of a miracle cure for cancer are going to be rich - why do we need to fund their dream when we know that they're going to screw it out of us later in medication costs?  They also spend quite a bit on handing out logo-emblazoned hats and on supporting the management of their charity.  I'd rather they spend money to help people who already have cancer to feel better - or help those families left behind in the aftermath of cancer.

In that sense, I feel that ASAN is dealing with the here and now of autism - not miracle cures (snake oil), not prevention (murder) and not top-heavy management structures.

It seems a worthwhile charity.

To be insensitive for a second (sorry, please bear with me), there is already a cure for autism.  It's the cure for life.  It's the same cure that we use for down's syndrome babies and it's the same cure that many political organisations over the years have used to "cure" unwanted parts of their population.

It starts with exclusion and ends with extermination.

Today, there are plenty of babies about with Downs Syndrome.  Not as many as before because many people are willing to be murderers in their search for perfection but still enough.  Enough to make it clear that we don't consider this cure to be acceptable.  Even worse, I have friends who were told that their baby would have downs syndrome. They elected to keep their child and seven years later, there is still no sign of the condition.  How many of our baby murderers are murdering for nothing?


The second point in the complaint against Mitsubishi is that it "blatantly violates MEAF’s own stated guideline: “We do not fund organizations or programs connected with a controversial social or political issue.”

Wow... and this coming from an organisation which clearly states that they would prefer that money be spent on detection and on the afforementioned cure.  No discussion necessary - it's much more political.

The next point complains that ASAN promotes “self-diagnosis” of autism, causing students who may have the disorder to not qualify for college disability support services"

Seriously, this doesn't even make any sense.  If someone doesn't have a diagnosis they can go through a lengthy process to get one - or they can self diagnose - or they can go without.

If someone desperately needs support services, then a formal diagnosis is essential.

If someone simply wants to understand their place in the world, then self-diagnosis is appropriate.  There's no need for funding and they're not missing out on anything.  They can always seek a formal diagnosis if they want funding later.  In the meantime however, there is no underestimating the value of understanding oneself.

The final point is bizarre. "ASAN promotes segregation of people with disabilities in extracurricular activities". For a start, I can't see how this is a major part of ASAN's mission.  At the same time, I fully appreciate the need for people on the autism spectrum to have extracurricular outlets with each other (as well as with the main body of students).  So many of the problems of autism are created by the expectations of society that interaction with like-minded and understanding peers is a major part of our coping strategy.


Well done Mitsubishi! It's great to see a commitment towards people rather than research -- and, shame on you Canary Party, leave your politics out of this.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, so everyone who has an abortion is a murderer. Guess we should lock up all female babies at birth and let them out to breed, after all we aren't human beings with rights to control our bodies, we are breeding machines.

Gavin Bollard said...

@Anonymous,

Like I said at the start, I apologise if I offend people but I needed to use some pretty hard terms to get the attention and feelings I was trying to generate.

I'm not anti-abortion for the right reasons - and there are plenty, but I guess I'm a bit anti-abortion when it's used as a population cleansing device.

Anonymous said...

I'm pro-choice and against eugenics, nothing wrong with that, many disability activists are pro-choice but against eugenics. You can't abort just because the child is going to have a (not deadly) disability or characteristic, that's all.

I liked your post, I hate the prejudice from the article, such ignorance and bigotry, thy have no idea of what they are talking about, if the donation was for any famous organization against Autism it wouldn't be a problem even if they supported dangerous quackery to "cure" autism or if they wish all autistic people to disappear.

Anonymous said...

Well you've basically defined half the human race to be sub-human. The only forced abortion policy that is in mass effect is in China. In every other country it is the woman who makes the decision as to whether to carry the pregnancy to term. Who are you, or I to decide for another that their bodily autonomy is not worth respecting? There are plenty of reasons why I might disagree with a person's abortion, but I will always fight for her right to be able to make that decision for herself.

Forced birth is an inhumane horror that unfortunately men are not faced with. For if they were, there would not be such callousness in treating women as breeding stock.

IMKenny said...

@anonymous
Imagine if a government offered an incentive to any person of a particular race who had an abortion, because they disliked that race and wanted to see its numbers reduced. That is not about abortion, but about eugenics. It is about not valuing and destroying a disliked group.

Now, replace 'particular race' with 'autism'. The ethics doesn't change. *Selective* use of abortion implies the devaluation of the selected type of people. Autistic people take it personally when other people say or imply "Your type of person should be destroyed before birth".

Anonymous said...

Like I said, there are reasons why one may disagree with a particular abortion. However, there are no government incentives for having an abortion in the case where the fetus has an abnormality. Quite the opposite, many governments will take any excuse they can to limit a woman's reproductive choice. When you say you are against eugenics, you are not pro-choice, you are making that choice for that woman because you think it's the right thing to do. I might think it's wrong to abort a child because of its race or gender or disability, but it is not my right nor is it the government's to force that choice on someone else.

Now, if you are talking about public awareness and advocacy to encourage women that having a child with disabilities is not as gloomy as some organisations make it appear that is one thing. Forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy is a completely other matter.

Anonymous said...

This is a great tangent .... although it really has nothing to do with being an Aspie or HFA (High Functioning Autistic) .... We can end the debate, if there is one, by sighting that more perfectly "normal" babies are flushed every year via abortion than all others combined. A woman's choice is her choice. Now if you want to discuss the issues surrounding those children brought into the world that have special needs or are HFA or any other child, you are questioning the essence of humanity the purpose of society and any individual's contribution. You do not have to know much about history to know that without the contribution of many HFA's .... we'd still be in the Stone Age. That can be said for the contributions of many others and most likely anyone. This is an interesting topic. But let's get off the treadmill of a woman's right to choose. We're all here because of our mothers.

Anonymous said...

Sad that the comments focus soley on abortion...

Gavin Bollard said...

@Anonymous, Yes... sad.

I put the strong words around abortion in order to provoke a response about the reasons for selective removal of babies but instead the responses are about women's rights.

I don't dispute a woman's right to do whatever she wants with her body and her baby (though hopefully with some partner-discussion as well).

The important thing though is that there's a difference between supporting groups who want to isolate and remove (cure or kill) versus groups who aim to help people to be accepted for who they are (neurodiversity).

I know which side I support.

Anonymous said...

Because when you call abortion murder, it is about women's rights. Because when men are sitting around debating selective removal of stuff from women's bodies, it is about women's rights. When people say that abortion is ok, as long as the woman gets the proper permissions from whoever, it is an issue of women's rights.

I understand the dispute between groups that oppose the agenda of Autism Speaks and similar groups, and yes it is a disability issue. But it is also a women's rights issue. Women are the ones that endure the pregnancy, women are the ones who have to decide on the abortion and prenatal testing. In these debates, the fact that a woman is somehow involved in the pregnancy is mysteriously overlooked.

When it comes to selective abortions, most groups that seek to limit (sex selection for example) do so through awareness and reducing stigma and prejudice. If a woman's choice is informed by real information rather than fear and hysteria, that would go a long way in reducing selective abortions of disabled fetuses without depriving the woman of her bodily autonomy.

Anonymous said...

After seeing Asperger's used as by the defense attorneys for killers in several cases...

...I can see how a diagnosis of autism could become a license to kill...

...and therefore aborting a fetus diagnosed with autism could therefore be making sure one doesn't have a son or daughter with a license to kill...

...and therefore aborting a fetus diagnosed with autism could be even more of an act of self-defense than aborting one's unwanted pregnancy already is.

Anonymous said...

" I might think it's wrong to abort a child because of its race or gender or disability..."

True, some women and girls have been forced to abort female fetuses by in-laws wanting grandsons, and some women and girls have been sterilized against their will because of their race.

At the same time, remember that when another pregnant woman or girl *chooses* to abort her fetus because it's female or because of its race, she's choosing to abort it for *her own* gender or race.

To lower the rate of *this* kind of abortion, you need to help crack down on racism and sexism against children and adults who have already been born. Leaving someone wishing for years and years that she was never born, and only trying to convince her that life in her situation is worth living once she's pregnant, is much too little too late.

Anonymous said...

"I put the strong words around abortion in order to provoke a response about the reasons for selective removal of babies but instead the responses are about women's rights."

What did you want us to do instead, discuss those hypothetical abortions as though the women and girls having those pregnancies shouldn't have rights and minds and feelings themselves?

Anonymous said...

"...I understand the dispute between groups that oppose the agenda of Autism Speaks and similar groups, and yes it is a disability issue. But it is also a women's rights issue. Women are the ones that endure the pregnancy, women are the ones who have to decide on the abortion and prenatal testing. In these debates, the fact that a woman is somehow involved in the pregnancy is mysteriously overlooked..."

Exactly.

If in your case your overlooking the humanity of the woman involved is somehow a symptom of your condition, then I can see how a woman would want to avoid having offspring with that condition...

Anonymous said...

"...When it comes to selective abortions, most groups that seek to limit (sex selection for example) do so through awareness and reducing stigma and prejudice. If a woman's choice is informed by real information rather than fear and hysteria, that would go a long way in reducing selective abortions of disabled fetuses without depriving the woman of her bodily autonomy..."

Right on!

In the case of ASDs, raising awareness and reducing stigma and prejudice must include raising awareness that ASDs do not justify mistreating other people.

The *less* an adult with an ASD could expect to get away with hurting other people (including his or her mother)...

(1) ...the *less* a woman or girl would realistically have to fear from making a baby that can become an adult with an ASD (and the *less* likely a woman or girl pregnant with a fetus diagnosed with autism would be to think "if I don't abort now, it can kill me 20 years later").

(2) ...the *less* a potential adoptive parent would realistically have to fear from adopting a baby that can become an adult with an ASD (and the *less* likely a woman or girl who can't afford to raise *any* additional child, but who's still pregnant with a fetus diagnosed with autism, would be to think "adoption's not an option this time, nobody will want to adopt the baby if I give birth this time").

Anonymous said...

The article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18676894 might be on-topic.