Were autistic traits responsible for a development in art?

A study by Dr Penny Spikins, Callum Scott and Barry Wright from the University of York suggests that autistic traits, specifically the ability to focus on detail, led to an explosion of realism in art 30,000 years ago. From a Science Daily article:
The ability to focus on detail, a common trait among people with autism, allowed realism to flourish in Ice Age art. Around 30,000 years ago realistic art suddenly flourished in Europe. Extremely accurate depictions of bears, bison, horses and lions decorate the walls of Ice Age archaeological sites such as Chauvet Cave in southern France. Why our ice age ancestors created exceptionally realistic art rather than the very simple or stylised art of earlier modern humans has long perplexed researchers.
While I’m flattered by the idea that autistics were responsible for a development in art, I can’t help but be a bit sceptical. Nonetheless, the authors make a very strong case for their hypothesis.
The study can be found here.

Posted in Autism Awareness, Background Data | Tagged , , ,

Why refer to autistics using identity-first language?

You have likely been advised that you should use person-first language either when talking to or about people with various conditions. According to Wikipedia, “Rather than using a label or an adjective to define someone, person-first language puts the person before the diagnosis and describes what the person has (for example, “a person with diabetes” or “a person with alcoholism”), not an assertion of what the person is (for example, “a diabetic” or “an alcoholic”). Thus a person is foremost a person and secondly a person with some trait.” Yet most autistics prefer to be called “autistic”, and not “a person with autism”.

The reason why many of us, myself included, prefer identity-first language is because being autistic influences how we perceive, understand, and interact, with the world around us. I am never not going to be autistic. In fact, if I wasn’t autistic, I wouldn’t be me.
The Wikipedia page also linked to this article by Lydia Brown. It makes a great many points I wish to make. Especially this:

But why are we self-advocates so opposed to this terminology? Aren’t we all about de-emphasizing and correcting inaccurate, misleading, and harmful stereotypes and attitudes? Right? From that other perspective, you would think we would support the use of person-first language, because we want to be seen as people with equal rights, value, and worth to non-Autistic people. But we don’t. Because when people say “person with autism,” it does have an attitudinal nuance. It suggests that the person can be separated from autism, which simply isn’t true. It is impossible to separate a person from autism, just as it is impossible to separate a person from the color of his or her skin.

The bottom line is, if someone asks to be referred to as a person with autism, you must respect that. If someone asks to be referred to as an autistic person, you must respect that too.

Posted in Autism Awareness | Tagged , , ,

Cosby Convicted

Last week, a jury convicted Bill Cosby on three counts of sexual assault. This was after an earlier trial collapsed when the jurors couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.
The charges related to sexual acts Cosby performed on Andrea Constand. Cosby administered her pills to sedate her, then fingered her. Constand claimed that it was nonconsensual, Cosby disputed that.
Around sixty women have now accused Cosby of sexual misconduct. As with Harvey Weinstein, once one accuser stepped forward the other victims were emboldened and spoke out. Five other women testified against Cosby at trial.
During the Discovery Process, Cosby was forced to admit to procuring quaaludes to give to women. To me, this was the smoking gun. If the sex was consensual, why did he need a known date rape drug?
Cosby’s defence team attempted to portray Constand as a blackmailer accusing Cosby for money. All this did was show the weakness of his case. If the accusations were fabricated, surely they would be easy to refute? It also failed to explain the other witnesses’ accounts. When one side resorts to ad hominem, it’s a firm sign they don’t have a valid argument.
From what I’ve been reading, a great many people in the black community are furious with Cosby. He was a role model and an inspiration to many black males, and now he’s been exposed as a rapist and a hypocrite. Like Jimmy Savile, he carefully cultivated an image that allowed him to sexually prey on vulnerable people. But while Savile died before he could be brought to account, Cosby will now have to bear the consequences of his actions.

Posted in Life, Segue | Tagged , ,

Was autism hero Hans Asperger really a villain?

Ask anyone the name of a scientist who studied autism, and Hans Asperger will likely be the one most frequently named. Unlike Leo Kanner, Asperger highlighted that autistics could be quite capable and able. Some have suggested that he emphasised autistic abilities to save his patients. He even had Asperger’s Syndrome named for him. But research done by historian Herwig Czech and published in the journal Molecular Autism suggests that this narrative – partly woven by Asperger himself – is inaccurate, and that Asperger was really a firm Nazi who willingly sent a number of patients to their deaths.
Aktion T4 was the Nazi programme of euthanasing the physically and mentally disabled to keep the Master Race pure. The first victim, Gerhard Kretschmaer, was murdered shortly before the invasion of Poland. The last victim died after Germany’s surrender.
Asperger declared that the Gestapo twice tried to arrest him for not reporting patients who were unfit. Czech found that there was no independent verification whatsoever for his claim. More damningly, Czech uncovered irrefutable evidence that Asperger referred several of his patients to the Am Spiegelgrund “clinic”, really a center for euthanasia. Given his position, it is exceptionally unlikely that Asperger was unaware of what was really happening at Am Speiegelgrund.
Most damning of all, Czech found that Asperger “publicly legitimized race hygiene policies” including forced sterilisation. Asperger was mentioned in a 1940 Nazi Document which said he “was in accordance with National Socialist ideas on race issues and sterilization laws”. He was even on a commission that screened patients at a home for mentally disabled children. Several of those screened were, like Asperger’s patients mentioned above, sent to Am Spiegelgrund.
Post War, Asperger continued to work in paediatrics. In 1962 he became professor of paediatrics and head of the University Children’s Hospital in Vienna, retiring in 1977 and passing away in 1980. Like predator Jimmy Savile, the truth only emerged after his death.

Posted in Autism Awareness, Background Data | Tagged , , , ,

W.H.O. declares Africa Polio Free


Posted in Anti-antivaccination | Tagged , ,

When Cheezburger is mocking you, you’ve lost

Last month and this one, I saw three articles on Cheezburger that attack antivaxxer opinions.

16 Times Anti-Vaxxers Really Stunk the Place up with Ignorance

Anti-Vaxxer Gets Eviscerated Trying To Shut Down People Who Are Pro-Vaccine

12 Brainless Bullsh*tters That Got Called Out For Their Lies Items 9 to 13.

This is great. If even Cheezburger is mocking the antivaccine, they’ve lost.

It also highlights the change in the Public’s perception of the antivaccine. The outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases have got people to realise that such viewpoints are not merely silly, but actually dangerous. Once, people with stories of vaccine injured children would get a free pass. Now, their claims are questioned and challenged.


And some more.

6 Morons that need to quit their BS like Yesterday First item on the list

Stubborn Anti-Vaxxer Battles Hard Truths In Ridiculous Facebook Thread

11 People Who Are Relieved Their Ex Is An Ex No. 11.

Mouth Breather Gets Shut Down By The Logic Of Science Over Idiotic Status

26 People Raised By Anti-Vaxxer Parents Share Their Stories

13 Times Anti-Vaxxers Infected Social Media with Pure Insanity

Posted in Anti-antivaccination | Tagged ,

Autism awareness should be by autistics for autistics

April is Autism Awareness Month, World Autism Awareness Week takes place from March 26th to April 2nd, and tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day.
I learnt of three relevant new Twitter hashtags.
#SaidNoAutistic #SaidNoFather #SaidNoMother
“Said no Autistic” attacks the attitudes and mindsets expressed by curebies and those who belittle autistics who self advocate. Here are some I created.
“You’re right. Even though I’m autistic and you’re not, you’re the better advocate for your autistic child.” #SaidNoAutistic
“I’m pleased you think I’m too eloquent and articulate to be autistic.” #SaidNoAutistic
“Indeed. I’m capable, so I can’t possibly advocate for those who are severely disabled.” #SaidNoAutistic
“Right. My stories of problems I face must be lies because I can pass for normal for hours at a stretch.” #SaidNoAutistic
If you want to see more, there is a Facebook Group “Said No Autistic“.
The hashtags “Said no Father” and “Said no Mother” were created by antivaxxers. The tweets contain sarcastic remarks about how they’re happy that their “vaccine injured” children won’t be subjected to diseases. After reading just a few, I had to stop. The logical fallacies and obnoxiousness were just too much.
To the anger of the antivaxxers, they have been getting pushback. Medical Professionals and autistics on Twitter have been challenging them, pointing out that their claims lack evidence and plausibility, and that vaccines do not cause many of the things (like autism) the “Said no Father” and “Said no Mother” tweets say they do.
The hashtags come across as an attempt by antivaxxers to stay relevant. Since the striking off of Andrew Wakefield, they have steadily lost the hold they once had on autism advocacy and the public narrative. This has been further loosened by recent outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases. The General Public now realises that the antivaccine are both wrong and foolish, and no longer takes them seriously.
Despite the fact that it was an original proponent for Autism Awareness Month, Autism Speaks has dropped from view. On its website, the most recent posts for Autism Awareness are for 2016. The death of Suzanne Wright was a body blow. And I am glad.
Autism Speaks was a terrible organisation for autism advocacy. It held to the view that vaccines cause autism long after that viewpoint ceased to be tenable, consistently repeated the “autism as tragedy” narrative even after autistic self advocates urged it to stop, failed to appoint autistics to positions in it and, when it did appoint John Elder Robison to its board, did not consider his input. It was also notorious for spending a very low percentage of donations on education and autism research.
Perhaps now, autism awareness can be driven by autistics.

Posted in Anti-antivaccination, Autism Awareness | Tagged , , , , , ,