The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism Expresses Disappointment In Judith Newman’s Hearts. #BoycottToSiri

 

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Michele FarinetMichele Farinet By the standards set here, no one would be writing about anyone or anything
Michele Farinet Michele Farinet And honestly I think Judith is brave and honest and, yes I will say it, morally right, to discuss the real fear of her son having children. My daughter is not disabled and I fervently hope she does not have children. The catastrophe that is our nation, world and planet should propel everyone to be having a discussion on this.

Judith Newman Judith Newman Sarah Pripas Kapit They may not. Can any of us dictate how our work is received? Can you?

 Judith Newman Judith Newman And see, Michele is saying this from a place of love-and knowledge. She knows my son. The rest of you do not. Honestly, I’m surprised by how a group of people who have been hurt by being judged by strangers are so quick to judge themselves.

John Elder Robison John Elder Robison I’ve seen many occasions where people online see these autism issues in very absolute black and white terms. If they don’t agree with you at the outset, it’s very difficult for some to adapt their views. I try and urge flexibility but lack of flexibility is part and parcel of autism for some of us.

John Elder Robison John Elder Robison Another thing I see is when people fixate on an idea like “forced sterilization of your son is morally wrong” and they are unable to consider anything else, or countenance a discussion of what might have motivated you to write what you did (which was not those words) how that relates to their interpretation, and how it relates to the rest of the work.
Judith Newman Judith Newman John Elder Robison I totally understand about flexibility. It’s tough (even for some of us who are NT). But people certainly can and do evolve. As a little kid Gus used to sob when a subway was on a different track than it usually went on, until I started calling it a “Magic train.” A different route — magic! He’s no longer upset, of course. Now he just checks out the routes every morning and lets me know if something is out of the ordinary.

Judith Newman Judith Newman John Elder Robison Yes, this is so true. There’s a pretty big difference between worrying out loud (or on the page) about something like this, and thinking it’s a good idea, or desirable. It’s neither good nor desirable.

Judith Newman Judith Newman I have known some parents of severely disabled kids who have done this though — girls, mostly. There was a piece about this in The Atlantic, I think, within the last year. It talked about girls who couldn’t understand the pain and blood of a menstrual cycle, and lashed out at people around them. Or parents were worried that later in life their kid would be sexually assaulted and end up pregnant, and not be able to tell them what happened. These are the harsh realities for some parents. (Though, thank God, it has become clear over the last two years, not for me.) So are those parents just acting becasue they’re eugenicists, or out of convenience for them? I don’t think so. I think they’re acting out of love.
John Elder Robison John Elder Robison For the past 30 years parents have dominated the conversation on autism. For a long time almost all the recognized autistic people were kids. Adults like Temple, Stephen Shore or myself were few and far between. Now we have thousands of those kids diagnosed in the 90s grown to adulthood. Many of them are now speaking out very strongly with the message that they speak for themselves. Parents don’t need to do it and should not do it.
When you combine that with the emerging idea that only autistic people truly know autistic life, it puts some parents in a dicey spot. Some support the rise of autistic voices; others are threatened or unwilling to let go.
Having positioned yourself as a parent in your book you should be sensitive to that issue when navigating your way in groups like this. I’m a parent too, but I’m first and foremost an autistic person. People don’t react to me the same way they react to non-autistic parents for that reason.
Janna Willard Janna Willard You do realize that a hysterectomy (which carries many potential long term negative health consequences) doesn’t shield someone from sexual assault, right? You can only do so much to protect against abuse (and disabled people are highly likely to be abused, in myriad ways, by parents as well as by staff), and you NEED to be educating disabled people (regardless of perceived intelligence) about what’s okay and what isn’t, and what to do if they don’t like something that someone does to them, and you NEED to have safeguards in place to ensure that there is little (if any) opportunity for staff to abuse the people they’re supposed to be supporting.
  
Sarah Pripas Kapit Sarah Pripas Kapit No, I can’t control how other people interpret my word. But we are not discussing my writing, are we? If/when I publish a book, I will be open to readers’ feedback, of course. Even though I may not agree with it.
It feels like a lot of your comments are deflecting, Judith. It’s the genre, none of us can control how our words are interpreted, etc. But here’s how I see it. You put a book out there and it has enjoyed considerable success. Your words about your son will have an impact on him–and other autistic people–due to the wide readership the book has enjoyed. It feels a lot to me like you’re not owning your own published words, instead choosing to treat them as thought experiments or musings said over coffee with a friend.
Sarah Pripas Kapit Sarah Pripas Kapit And yes, I consider forcible sterilization of disabled people to be a dealbreaker. I won’t spend money a book that condones this practice, nor will I spend time reading it. You’re not entitled to have me as a reader.
I will say, though, that had you positioned this “thought” about sterilization as a misguided one that you had later come to see the error of, I would look at this very differently and would certainly consider your thoughts on the subject. But as far as I can tell, your book does not acknowledge the importance of disabled people’s reproductive autonomy. You have only chosen to say that this “thought” was misguided when people criticized you for it. If you have genuinely come to this realization, then I think that’s wonderful. But please understand why autistic people may not be very trusting of you right now.
Shannon Des Roches Rosa has written extensively about how her thoughts have evolved as a result of talking with autistic adults. I have the utmost respect for her and other parents who followed a similar path. Please don’t think that you can never gain the trust of autistic adults after this. But that requires work and an acknowledgment of wrong. 
Judith Newman Judith Newman Sarah Pripas Kapit I own everything I say. I don’t own everyone’s interpretation of what I say. The best I can do is be here and tell you what I meant. Have you read my book, or are you arguing based on what you’ve read on Twitter?
  
Janna Willard Janna Willard If what you said is being interpreted vastly differently from what you meant by a large group of people who are directly impacted by the attitudes expressed in your writing (even if those attitudes are not what you thought you were espousing), then you are, in fact, responsible for that interpretation and you need to examine what you wrote and why you wrote it that way, and then consider how you could have said it differently in order to be more accurate. 
Speaking as yet another writer, which Sarah is as well.
  
Emily Paige Ballou Emily Paige Ballou “Or parents were worried that later in life their kid would be sexually assaulted and end up pregnant, and not be able to tell them what happened. These are the harsh realities for some parents.”What if we didn’t frame the fact that ~88% of developmentally disabled women face sexual assault in terms of the hardship to their parents, but to themselves?Like this is kind of the core of the issue here. *We* are the ones living our lives. We are the rightful owners of our lives. We are the people primarily affected by our hardships, and we deserve support that respects our autonomy and ownership of our own bodies in facing those issues.

The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism Judith Newman, I am disappointed to see you hearting Michele Farinet’s comments; I realize you are in defensive mode which makes learning hard and support a balm, but you have to do better, listen harder. That means you don’t have to respond to everything. You can listen and absorb. 

I have removed Michele’s comment re: parents choosing sterilization for their kids to be a responsible act. That is a sucker-punch to the rights and dignity we discuss and educate about here. -SR

The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism We’re not saying don’t write. We’re saying don’t write things about other people (personal matters) that would distress and disappoint them, whether you have their consent or not. Especially if those people are your own kids. -SR
Patricia George Patricia George Judith Newman – YOU told us who your son is, we are reacting to how YOU framed him for us. Like, do you not get that? I wouldn’t know your son if not for, you.
You’re also showing us who you are. You are blocking autistics on twitter (your brought up twitter) for even liking the tweets of their neurosiblings. That’s an echo chamber you’re creating for yourself where all you hear coming back to you will support your cognitive dissonance.
People who support your book are making threats as well. This is not a one way street. Did you see what people who have blue-check marks and huge followings said to Amethyst and about her parents?
You opened that door. You wrote the book.
You can’t write a book about your autistic son and say, “it’s not for autistics” and then act like you’re the sole injured party in this mess that you’ve created.
Your book is an attack, not a memoir.
I wish with all my heart you never wrote it. I feel literally sick for your son. If you were my mother…..
You make me grateful for my mother. I’ll leave it at that.

 

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