Chong-Ming Lim. Accommodating Autistics and Treating Autism: Can We Have Both?
2015, Bioethics 29(8), 1-9
Added by: Björn Freter
Abstract: One of the central claims of the neurodiversity movement is that society should accommodate the needs of autistics, rather than try to treat autism. People have variously tried to reject this accommodation thesis as applicable to all autistics. One instance is Pier Jaarsma and Stellan Welin, who argue that the thesis should apply to some but not all autistics. They do so via separating autistics into high‐ and low‐functioning, on the basis of IQ and social effectiveness or functionings. I reject their grounds for separating autistics. IQ is an irrelevant basis for separating autistics. Charitably rendering it as referring to more general capacities still leaves us mistaken about the roles they play in supporting the accommodation thesis. The appeal to social effectiveness or functionings relies on standards that are inapplicable to autistics, and which risks being deaf to the point of their claims. I then consider if their remaining argument concerning autistic culture may succeed independently of the line they draw. I argue that construing autistics' claims as beginning from culture mistakes their status, and may even detract from their aims. Via my discussion of Jaarsma and Welin, I hope to point to why the more general strategy of separating autistics, in response to the accommodation thesis, does not fully succeed. Finally, I sketch some directions for future discussions, arguing that we should instead shift our attention to consider another set of questions concerning the costs and extent of change required to accommodate all autistics.
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Comment: Starting point for adjudicating the disagreements about how to address the justice claims by disability (and disabled) activists more generally. Requires basic knowledge of the disability rights movement in general, and neurodiversity movement in particular.