Friday, December 7, 2007

Anna Salamon Defends Amanda Baggs, Weakly

Someone claiming to be Anna Salamon, an old friend of Amanda Baggs, showed up here to defend Baggs' questionable autism diagnosis. So far, Salamon has not responded to Watson's challenge which follows.

watson said...
Anna, Thank you for responding.

Let's be clear. 'Past, Present and Future' was written by Amanda to give an adult face to low-functioning autism, and to speak vociferously against any intervention and treatment for autism - on behalf of all low-functioning children with autism.

In this piece Amanda gives the impression that she was at one time a low-functioning child with autism. That her speech didn't make a lot of sense, that she was not toilet-trained, that she banged her head on walls and ripped her hair out in clumps.

That is not true, is it, Anna?

I mean, presumably, at age 12, when you were discussing conformity vs non-conformity, it wasn't one-sided, with you doing all the talking and Amanda sitting in the corner, virtually bald, banging her head on the wall, and talking nonsense.

Presumably she had actually read the Tao Te Ching that she lent you - and she hadn't just sniffed and rubbed the pages against her face.

Amanda gives the impression that she had ABA and that although at times she was rewarded, she was more often than not, tortured, beaten, punished, and in this horrific way she was taught to speak. "Non-communicative echolalia".

That is not true. Is it, Anna?

That even though they tried to teach her to use the toilet they failed, and at the time of writing the article at the age of 24, she "STILL" soiled her clothes.

That also is not true. Is it, Anna?

She was using the toilet appropriately at 12, wasn't she? According to Amanda, she had been fully toilet-trained before she was three years old.

Perhaps you can tell me why after being brutally treated, and having watched other children with autism "thrown on the ground, stripped, and tied up with their own clothing... and having "heard them screaming and crying when they were thrown in the closet", she, your friend, Amanda Baggs, wrote in Dec 1997:

"Many children (mostly autistic) at my school use those picture card things. Everything in the room is labeled with them, and they have schedule boards with velcro on them to attach the pictures. When they want to do something, they point to the picture (often with a lot of coaxing).

My school's pretty neat actually.

It's special-ed for ages 7?-22. There are maybe forty students, of all kinds of problems (I'm in the high-functioning class, recovering from schizophrenia). I get to work with one of the autistic girls once a week, and I really enjoy it.

I want to do things like that professionally, eventually. Once I get out of this school and back to college... "
This paints an entirely different picture, doesn't it?

Now, Amanda might think that she "had autism" when she was a child, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if she had what are now called "autistic traits", after all they are not that unusual even in the 'normal population' but can you honestly say that Amanda's first 12 years were anything like this in this article by Scot Sea.

Be honest. They weren't, were they?

And that is what's wrong with what you are doing coming to Amanda's rescue, just like the cavalry, when any discussion is raised about her past - on AFF, on Metafilter, on here.


Because neither Amanda nor you have lived with Autism. Neither of you have cared for a loved one with Autism 24/7, 365 days a year. Year, after year, after year.

Scott Sea's daughter has low-functioning autism. Amanda has taken it upon herself to speak for this child and for tens of thousands like her.

What do you think will happen to this young girl when her parents are gone? Who will take care of her? Not you in your Maths Department at UCSD. And certainly not Amanda.

Amanda's interests center around Amanda and Amanda's wants and needs. Her interest in autism is primarily an intellectual one. And she loves being consulted and giving advice. After all, she has been doing it for years on various support forums: schizophrenia, PTSD, DID, Bi-Polar,..

She has lived most of her life inside her head and her experience of LIFE has come from the numerous books she has read.

Parents of children with autism, on the other hand, are living day after day with stark reality, in the blood and guts of it all. Our lives revolve every day around someone else, not ourselves. That's the difference.

What you may not know is that since 1999 there has been an active campaign to paint a rosy picture of autism, and, from reading some of the posts at AFF, it is obviously working extremely well.

Stimming has become foot jiggling, stroking one's beard, biting one's bottom lip, or tapping a pencil. Echolalia has become BSing your way through school and getting straight As by storing large sentences and sentence-pieces and recombining them to look like you know what you're saying. Perseverances have become special interests or collections. Having sensory problems is having to remove tabs on clothing because they feel scratchy. Social difficulties have become shyness or not being able to do 'small talk'.

Today "having autism" or "being autistic" means being a geek or a nerd, or getting a certain score in an online Aspie quiz. It means being special and superior to Neurotypicals.

Before this bullshit started, no parent wanted to hear that their child had autism. Since it was suggested in 1999 that Einstein might have had it, pseudo-intellectuals think they have it - or their quirky children might have it.

Only problem is: they don't.

I am not at all surprised that you are supporting Amanda now because you have apparently been a steadfast friend who has stood by her for many years throughout her schizophrenic illness. Not many friends would do that.

But please consider that by supporting Amanda in this fiction that she had full-blown autism as a child and, as such, that she should be free to speak against treatment for children with autism, you are also agreeing with what she says:

"Autism is fundamentally beautiful."

Do you believe that? Now read Scott Sea's article again, and tell me it is.

Sat Jul 28, 09:31:00 PM PDT

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