This is my response to the quite-frankly, ravingly-paranoid article I found printed in hard copy in the magazine. The infamous blogger and social media contributor, Jonathan Mitchell, had submitted the article to the UK Magazine and boasted how he did it for free. I cannot help but think a vulnerable and cleary depressed and suffering man has been taken for quite a ride here. He’s being exploited as a means of expressing the agendas of others through his pain.
Mitchell is a member of the AUTISTIC DARK WEB, a person appears to be an autistic, or someone who claims to be, who can only conceive of humanity as being either sick or healthy. No spectrums of the brain. They believe the only valid human is Neurotypical.
All else is disease and disorder. So they invariably express themselves as self-hating and depressed people. Forever aspiring to being cured, which is a state of being in which, we must assume, they could achieve all the goals they feel they cannot right now and finally be happy.
Only when “cured” can they live the lives they want and do the things they cannot do. We, of course, believe there is no ‘cure,’ and that the concept and frame of reference it exists in is redundant. They assert their beliefs absolutely. They cannot compromise and are always aggressive in their actions towards neurodiversity advocates.
The Spectator article itself can be read here. They don’ like fluffy kittens….
I am a professional autistic self-advocate, performance artist, and autism consultant.
I wish to make the following points about Jonathan Mitchell’s article in The Spectator magazine, dated 19th January, 2019. On page 18 of the print edition the article appears under the title ‘THE DANGERS OF NEURODIVERSITY.’ It is credited as being exclusively authored by Jonathan Mitchell.
This is a collaborative, two part open letter. To read part 2, a response in-line with the article, click here. The following represents my complaints with the article:
- That the information Mitchell has published and the statements he makes about ‘neurodiversity proponents’ and ‘neurodiversity self-advocates,’ and the entire tone of his article, is biased; further, that some of it is not factually correct.
- That the article has put a vulnerable man in harm’s way. That Mitchell details in the first paragraph of his article that he is a vulnerable adult. That he has been published in such a way as he may encounter hostility and responses via social media – which he willfully maintains daily – when it could have been avoided.
- Mitchell’s article seems to relate to any kind of communication with him that opposes his ideas and beliefs as malicious and aggressive; thus, he will interpret the inevitable backlash from people like myself, who feel we have been insulted and slandered, as abusive and hurtful actions. Naming him in such an inflammatory article was a violation of journalistic integrity.
- Further, Mitchell refers to advocates like myself as brutal and aggressive, and possessing some ability to prevent parents from doing what they want to their autistic children in terms of medical interventions, treatments, and so-called “cures.”
- Autism is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of either neurologically-defined behavioural characteristics, or “symptoms,” if you consider it a disorder. Mitchell does not acknowledge anything positive about the first definition and is biased against the second. We consider this attitude one-sided and aggressively slandering the very nature of people like me. Without providing a counter-perspective, readers are not given access to the predominating majority voice of autistic people.
- Mitchell refers to the term ‘autism’ as if it were a disease, like a virus. Despite his admitting it to be a hereditary phenomenon and discussing the neurodiversity advocates’ perspectives, he nonetheless references the term throughout the article as if it were a plague or epidemic people caught at birth. This is not true.
- Mitchell paints a picture of advocates like myself as completely narrow-minded, when in fact every advocate acknowledges that people have the freedom of choice to make whatever decisions they want. All we do is oppose by reason and statements. We are not, as Mitchell seems to insinuate, blockading clinics and forcibly preventing parents from doing what they want with their autistic children.
- Mitchell makes statements about online abuse being perpetuated against who oppose neurodiversity advocates. His arguments are very simplistic and fail to provide evidence of actual interactions. He feels free to make sweeping generalisations without substantiating them, expecting the audience to accept his words as being representative of the broad neurodiversity movement.
- Mitchell, who is clearly articulate enough to write a winding screed worthy of publication and to have been awarded twenty jobs in his professional life– all of those he notes from which he was subsequently fired—is clearly not a person who is incapacitated. He is a person who has always needed more understanding and more effective supports. An autistic man who spends his days and nights on social media slandering and trolling autistics is a vulnerable person, and propagating this self-loathing narrative was exploitative.
- Mitchell consistently refers to the desire to be cured of autism. He is in his fifties and clearly has complex issues. How can neurodiversity advocates do anything but complement his life? Neurodiversity advocates are asking to be seen as human beings, inextricable from their autism. They do not push for all research surrounding autism to be halted. Yet Mitchell does not connect with his own ‘neurotribe’ – the very people who can give him what he says he lacks: relationships. Instead, he spends his days and nights trolling them on social media, insulting their looks, and presuming that individuals belong to some unilateral, unified theory of what the trajectory of autism research and treatment needs to be.