Nov. 06, 2009
Few medical conditions rival autism as a magnet for controversy. Practically everything about the disorder — its cause, its treatment, the way it is diagnosed, how it is studied — is subject to bitter dispute, sometimes to the point of death threats.
The most impassioned disagreements are propelled by desperate parents of autistic children, but increasingly, people who themselves have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis are speaking up. And their priorities, surprisingly enough, are not always in line with the advocacy groups who seek to represent their interests.
The latest example is the eruption over a video produced for Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism advocacy group. The slickly produced video, written by Grammy-nominated songwriter Billy Mann and directed by Academy Award–winning director Alfonso Cuarón, shows a series of images of children with autism, accompanied by an ominous voice-over: “I am Autism … I know where you live … I live there too … I work faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer and diabetes combined .
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