Showing posts with label Neurodiversity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Neurodiversity. Show all posts

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Neurodiversity or the Truth?

This blog is about the science behind autism and does try to avoid political agendas, which may make it seem somewhat cold and unemotional. Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of places to go and read about other views on autism.
I was reading one of the few scientific blogs about autism recently and I was surprised how much time was spent attacking neurodiversity and in the end it detracts from the science part of the blog.
Political agendas, like “America first”, or “Brexit means Brexit” and indeed “Neurodiversity” usually start with some truth and then everything gets lost in gross over-simplification. The more we move away from getting our information from serious considered sources and move to catchy snippets of information, the more people there are that think they have the knowledge to form a considered opinion, but the less valid those opinions may be.
Neurodiversity sounds like a nice idea; people are all a little bit different. Anyone who went to a non-selective school will already know just how different people can be. By studying the gene expression of people with autism, schizophrenia and bipolar we know just how varied people are and that almost everyone has an element of one observational behavioral diagnosis or another.
Neurodiversity only gets a bad name when one group at the extreme, that is defined by the lack of empathy and understanding for others, starts to hijack the debate; just like some intelligent person with Asperger’s may want to talk endlessly about his pet subject.
Fortunately, science and scientists clearly pay little attention to neurodiversity and so in countries like China, Canada and the US autism is very much seen as a medical disorder in need of potential treatments;  that is why thousands of research papers have been published. However many people there are out there adamant that autism is just a difference, and does not need treating, has no effect whatsoever. Science is elitist rather than democratic, you have to prequalify to get a say.
Not all doctors are scientists and so clearly they do absorb some of the background autism chatter. You will find doctors who are adamant that autism will remain untreatable.
Politicians, who often associate more with agendas rather than values/truths, are of course a different matter and they do count because they determine where your tax money gets spent. So the uninformed public debate can often lead to poor decision making and allocation of resources.
The truth sometimes can be boring and sometimes even dangerous, and is unlikely to win you an election or a referendum, but in the long run the truth is usually the best strategy. So ideally you want a politician with genuine values, compensated for by a good PR team to generate those memorable sound  bites.
Many people writing about autism, even award winning authors, not surprisingly seem to have mild autism themselves and so while they may have strong opinions, they may lack the ability to take in new information that might cause them to modify their opinions. So while you might want to check your math homework with one of these people, best not to try and debate anything with them.
In spite of the wave of autism awareness, most vaguely neurotypical people have little interest in the subject and so rarely express an opinion. That seems pretty much the way it should be.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Some people with mild autism are happy the way they are, but many people with disabling autism need help. Some people with mild autism also chose to seek help. Some people do not seek help until it is too late.
If this blog has an agenda, it is to promote the better use of the scientific research that has already been published and to take more control over your own health, just how much more and who should decide the limits are debatable points.