Thursday, April 10, 2014

HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigns

I've just heard the news that Obama's longest serving cabinet member, secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius has just tendered her resignation.

She was apparently dogged by controversies over the poor rollout of Obamacare and the lackluster website which people used to enroll in it as well as the poor implementation of this new law by the Obama administration.  

What Ms. Sebelius is less widely known for is her authority to appoint public members to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, the branch of the government that *ahem* suggests autism policy to the U.S. Government. 

Ms. Sebelius has appointed several members of the neurodiversity movement to public membership posts in the IACC.  It would seem she really does not give a shit about kids being crippled or sick.  One of the persons she appointed is a high school dropout who didn't finish the tenth grade.  Other members she's appointed have said that disability is a "social construct" and that autistic people would do just fine with the right accommodations.  Another of her appointees has likened parents who wish to cure their autistic children to members of the Ku Klux Klan. 

I can only hope that Sylvia Burwell, who has been tapped to replace her will take a more sane and rational approach to autism.  Perhaps she will no longer appoint members of the neurodiversity movement to government posts.   

I realize I shouldn't get my hopes up too high.  My understanding is that Sebelius rubber stamped all of the IACC appointees based on recommendations from NIMH head Thomas Insel.  Perhaps I should regard him as the real scoundrel and not her.  I guess I can only hope congress can be persuaded not to reauthorize the IACC when the CAA sunsets in September of 2014.  I know it's not going to happen but I can dream, can't I?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Interesting article on Adam Lanza by Andrew Solomon

There's been some buzz in the media recently about an interview that Peter Lanza--the father of Newgate shooter Adam Lanza--had done for New Yorker Magazine.  I was interested to discover that this article is now online  The author was Andrew Solomon who wrote the book "Far From the Tree" that dealt with multiple disabilities, including autism.  About five years ago, Solomon also wrote an article about the neurodiversity movement for New York Magazine.  Your humble blogger was briefly mentioned in this article as well as in Solomon's book.

The article leaves no doubt whatsoever that Adam Lanza had a professionally made diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome.  The neurodiversity movement often makes diagnoses of virtuous figures such as Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Vernon Smith, etc. to help promote the idea that autism could be a good thing.  They were apparently in no hurry to do this with Lanza.  In fact, after the shootings, a flurry of articles appeared attempting to distance autism spectrum disorders from the shooting and an insistence that there is no relationship between autism and violent crime.  Ironically, one of these individuals was Wrong Planet founder Alex Plank who, when one WP member threatened people, neglected to report this fact to the authorities, resulting in the deaths of two innocent victims. Subsequently, another individual last year threatened to go out and murder some people.  This member is still a member on WP in good standing.  WP only deleted the post apparently after Gadfly reported this to the FBI and WP was contacted. 

I won't comment on this article further, but I found it interesting reading and I believe some others may also.  My one final thought to Alex Plank and other members of the neurodiversity movement is you can't have your cake and eat it too. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Finished first draft of my third novel "Going Through The Doors". Now what?

I've recently finished a first draft of my latest (my third) novel "Going Through The Doors" It's a novel about LSD use, teenage angst, and abreaction (look it up). Other than that, I don't want to go into too much detail about it yet. I've got about 133,000 words which comes out to about 439 double spaced pages in word perfect 12 (I've used word perfect 5.1 particularly in the DOS, pre-windows days and I'm not overly fond of Word). Now, I've sort of come to the hard part. I have no hard copy of the manuscript and I'd like to start trying to make revisions with that. It's a bit much for me to print out on my own printer and I've sent an email to Fedex (formerly Kinko's) to get a quote for how much it would cost to type it out. After this, hopefully I can get started with a rewrite. I'm sure it's going to need a major one, which I'm probably not capable of turning into a publishable novel.

 I used them with "The Mu Rhythm Bluff", my second novel, and I had to end up paying more for than their quote which sort of pissed me off. I don't know where else I can go and get this done. I'm waiting for them to respond to my email.

 In spite of the lack of the hard copy, I've started to rewrite the 'script a bit. I might be able to rewrite it without a physical copy, but not sure. After I've rewritten it to the best of my ability, I guess I could rejoin the internet writer's workshop which I left, not sure I'd ever have another manuscript which they could critique. I submitted "The Mu Rhythm Bluff" in its entirety to this list and got some helpful feedback. Of course, the number of crits I got was limited as some people felt that long descriptions of poker hands were a bit tedious. I tried to reciprocate and crit as many people as possible also.

After this is done, I will have to ask the question "now what?" Is there any point in submitting it to an agent for publication? When I was shopping my first novel, "The school of Hard Knocks" around, I got a few agents who were interested in reading it, but they took a pass on it as well as the ones who did not want to read it. Susan Ramer who was Catherine Stocket's (The Help) agent was one of the people interested in reading it and suggested I might want to have a professional editor look at it and polish it up before sending it to more agents. I went to some editors, most of them were not terribly helpful and they were really expensive and a bit beyond my means. I finally gave up on that first novel, giving it a good flogging and relegating it to cobweb filled shelves, a space becoming literary cluster fucks.

I'd dreamed of using my autism as a gimmick of sorts to get this autism-related novel published. I had high hopes when I met journalist Tamar Brott who in the past has done stories for the NPR shows "This American Life" and "Studio 360". I hoped getting on "This American Life" would result in publication by a major house. After This American Life was enthused about doing a show created by Tamar about me and my novel, they decided they did not like the way Tamar had written it and killed (or at least put into abeyance) the show. I ended up on Studio 360 which was a nice consolation prize, but it did not result in publication of the unpublishable work. The gimmick failed me.

 After I'd been through rewriting and limited editing of "The Mu Rhythm Bluff", I took the plunge and queried with nine agents. I noticed things had changed in the several year interval between my first and second novel. Agents no longer even answered prospective authors for the most part if they were not interested in the work. The publishing industry had totally changed with digital readership and the big chain Borders going out of business and Barnes and Noble having trouble. Amazon had started to rule the world. The only up side was that thanks to Amazon and their Create Space and KDP select programs, self-publication was a far more viable option. I took that route, hoping I could use the gimmick to promote this book. Tamar had moved to another city and was busy with other things so she could not get me on NPR. I wrote to Studio 360, asking if they remembered me and were interested in doing another show with me. They just wrote me a "don't call us we'll call you" email. No media people or reporters were interested in my story, an autistic novelist having written an autism-related novel. Advertising was not viable or too expensive except for the money I spent on Good Reads. In short no one was interested in the gimmick which would result in "The Mu Rhythm Bluff" being published by a major house getting on the New York Times best seller list  and being made into a major motion picture or anything like that. In the year that it's been out I've only managed to sell 49 ebook copies and three physical book copies-an average of about one book per week.

 "Going through the Doors" is a different story. The teenaged protagonist does not have autism and there is no mention of autism in the book. There is no real way I can use the gimmick for this one. It does not look like the third time will be the charm. So, as I await being able to obtain a hard copy of this draft, I must ask a few questions. How will I know it is ready for submission or self publication? Is there any reason at all to even bother querying with an agent? Is it worth my while to invest the time and capital of self publishing it Amazon, even if it is ever ready for such? In short I must ask the question, Now what?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

William Stillman's prediction falls flat so far

William Stillman is an individual alleging to be on the autism spectrum who some years ago wrote a variety of books about autism, parenting, and a controversial book, Autism and the God Connection where he apparently alleges the huge increases in prevalence of autism in recent years is some sort of divine plan. (I have not read this book)  For some years, Mr. Stillman had remained dormant and I had not really heard anything about or by him in a while.  He recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post giving his most recent take on the Autism Epidemic.  Old time readers of autism's gadfly will remember a post I wrote more than five years ago where Mr. Stillman stated that autism was a new stage in human evolution.  He predicted that the prevalence of autism would increase to 1 in 10 individuals within a five to ten year period.  He made this prediction nearly six years ago.  I stated in the post that I would write blog posts during the time frames of his predictions.  I suppose I should have written about this last year in 2013.  In the better late than never department, I'm writing about it now.  The highest figures for autism prevalence given lately are 1 in 88.  There is also a 1 in 50 prevalence number that is dropped sometimes which was just the result of a phone survey and used a very different technique from that used to get the 1 in 88 number.  In fact, the trend seems to be going in the opposite direction of Stillman's prophecy.  Recent news stories are stating that autism diagnoses will likely drop 30% because of changes in the DSM and APA guidelines.

I realize that Bill Stillman did not state a flat 5 year time frame, but did give a 5 to ten year time frame in his prediction.  CDC studies (excluding the one 1 in 50 study) have shown that autism diagnoses have gone up somewhat in the past five years, but not at the same rate that Stillman predicted.  I don't know if there will be new prevalence numbers in the next couple of years after new APA guidelines and the new DSM have been around long enough to be relevant.  I'll await to see what they are.  I guess I'll have to try to remember to write a new post toward the end of 2018 commenting on whether or not Stillman's prediction came true.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wrong Planet's powder keg revisited one year later

Regular readers of autism's gadfly will remember last year I wrote a post about an individual who wrote a post threatening to kill people and posted it on the well-known neurodiversity website wrong planet.  It was quite an angry rant.  Shortly afterward, in a subsequent post, the individual posted that the whole thing was a joke.   Maybe it was a joke, but there are certain jokes that are in poor taste.  Taking into consideration the recent shootings of Adam Lanza in Newgate, the controversy as to whether or not Lanza was on the autism spectrum, and the fact that in a previous incident, Wrong Planet had neglected to report a similar threat to authorities which resulted in two innocent people being murdered I decided to take action and report this individual to the FBI.  I was not sure what the results of this action were, but tonight I've found out about some posts this individual made regarding what happened over a year ago.

As can be seen from the screenshot above, this individual is still a member on wrong planet in good standing who logged in today. I have to wonder why someone who threatens to kill people on a website that has been sued for being responsible for the murder of two people is still allowed on this web site when I was banned for using a handle they did not approve of and posting some anti-neurodiversity ideas. .

On doing further research, I discovered a thread in which this individual posted where at first he doesn't seem to understand the consequences of his actions but then concedes what he did was stupid but still seems to think anyone who would report him to authorities is overreacting.  The thread can be viewed here. He starts: In the first lines of my rant I stated that is a pure rant.. He does not seem to get it. He seems confused as to whether a threat is not a threat because it has been classified as a rant in some forum called "haven" on wrong planet, where people are free to vent however they please including threats to murder people. He goes on to say:  My question here: if a rant in The Haven has these consequences, even making it more than clear that this is a pure rant, how can I trust this community anymore? * It was a rant, in the first place. As per my understanding, a rant is NOT required to be a well thought through, but maybe I'm wrong here? Yeah, I'd say you're wrong, but maybe that's just my opinion. Though the individual in question, apparently resides in Switzerland the FBI apparently tracked him down and reported him to the local authorities. He states that though they did not take his "rant" seriously, the case was referred to the local prosecutor's office which seems odd. Also, apparently this individual really did have a gun:  
FYI: the authorities here didn't even ask me to turn over my gun to them (yet), they only asked me if I would if they'd ask me. Told them I would ofc, if only to be back living in peace myself w/o any more "official" hassle. But now, this whole incident, originating from an overworried citizen in the US, is going the official way, next station: public prosecutor's office.

I don't believe I was overworried and I did the right thing reporting this to the FBI.  I had no idea whether the first post where he said he would shoot people was a joke or if his followup post saying he really wouldn't shoot people was covering his tracks.  Anyone who would post this for trivial matters has some serious mental problems and I wonder what sort of country Switzerland (or any other nation, state or municipality for that matter)is that would allow someone with problems like this to own a gun.  It is a shame that the authorities did not demand he surrender his firearm.

Another Wrongplanet denizen calling themselves Aspergersanswers does not seem to have a very high personal opinion of your humble blogger:


Good lord.

What as*hole idiot called that in.

Its beyond belief what I have just read

how can I trust this community anymore? - You cant. Too many spiteful idiots who try to bring you down to their non-functioning level.

I know this because my trust was soon destroyed here by ONE hate filled cretin. I've not trusted the place
since.



The individual in question complains that he won't be able to travel by plane anymore or visit friends in the U.S.A. anymore.  He seems to blame me (or anyone else who notified the authorities for that matter) on his trivial misfortune.  He also claims he might be subject to a lawsuit.  I really feel no remorse about this.  Certainly if he lived in this country  the TSA would have reason to regard him as a threat and not allow him on an airplane.

Aspergersanswers had more words of wisdom on the subject:

This is a disgrace.

WP - or its unvetted trolls are screwing people over.

This is by far the most ignorant spite filled hate based forum I've ever seen.

I'm pretty angry about this. Its the opposite of what people need. Even NT people know better than this.


In all fairness to Cephalod, the individual in question, he does give a more reasoned response in his last post in the thread which largely contradicts his previous posts on the subject:

I would like to add some final thoughts here.

1. Ultimately, it was me who made some very stupid mistakes in posting that angry rant. Posting an angry rant is one thing, but making such threats I did was just plain right stupid. Even more stupid and naive was not even to think about how others could perceive it. At least I posted only a few minutes later my "all clear, at ease".

2. If someone got scared and informed the autorities, that is only an understandable reaction. Imagine, you'd have lost a family member or a neighbor in one of those horrible events that happened again and again during the last years. Who wouldn't be scared then?

3. Yes, I wish that person would have acted more thoughtful instead of overreacting. Didn't happen. It's unfortunate, bur nothing I can do about it.

4. And the authorities were absolut right to take action. Better ten times false alert than beeing too careless once. If I were a law encorcement officer, I couldn't live with the idea that if only I had acted, I could have saved lives.

5. Yuugiri, you were right about trust. Someone did inform the autorities and as I said, I really can't blame that person. So this is not a trust issue in the end.

As I said, I made a couple of really stupid mistakes here and I am very sorry about it. I will definitly never make such mistakes again. And if there will be consequences for me, I'll have to accept them and pay the price for beeing too stupid and naive in the first place.


I wish I'd known about Cephalod's follow-up posts sooner and had blogged about them last year as soon as they became available.  Unfortunately, this is the soonest I knew about it and my apologies to the blogosphere about that.  

As far as I know, Cephalod did not actually go out and kill anyone and does not pose any threat.  I suppose some people will argue this happened a year ago and is old news.  However, I feel this problem goes far beyond one wingnut who publicly posts on a website that he's going to kill people. and other posters on this website with a bizarre ideology that they actually use some sort of semantic sophistry to claim there's a difference between a "rant" and a "threat".  As far as I know, Autism Speaks still provides funding for autism talk TV.  Alex Plank has been a keynote speaker at an Autism Society of America conference.  There is a TV show that uses him as a consultant on scripts.  Let alone people who purchase advertising on Wrong Planet.  Why is it that people would support people like this, who think like this, who run a website like this?  

Maybe these are dumb questions, but what in the hell is the autism world coming to?  Why is it that people throw all common sense out the window?    

Monday, January 27, 2014

Will Ari Ne'eman, ASAN and the rest of Neurodiversity oppose Avonte's law?


As most persons who peruse stories on the internet about autism know, Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old boy with severe autism recently perished after wandering away from his school.  His remains were found after a three month search.  Because of this, New York senator Charles Schumer has proposed legislation that will hopefully prevent this tragedy from happening ever again.

In the past, the autistic self advocacy network, one of the main groups of individuals who serve as proponents for the neurodiversity movement has opposed diagnostic codes for wandering due to the fact that this will result in restraint and seclusion of developmentally disabled people.

I noticed in Ari Ne'eman's google plus page, he's offered condolences for Avonte's untimely demise.  He and the rest of ASAN have claimed that there are certain behavioral techniques that can help eliminate wandering, but has been rather vague about the specifics (par for the course for Neurodiversity).

They were opposed to the wandering codes because they believed it was a violation of human rights.  How about Avonte's right to be alive and other kids like him.  There seems to be no shortage of autistic children who perish in accidental drownings, being run over by cars, etc.  Certainly food for thought. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

An advance plug for Steve Silberman's neurodiversity book?

As regular readers of Autism's Gadfly know, I've been waiting for publication of Wired writer Steve Silberman's book about neurodiversity for a long time.  Originally, it was slated to be published in 2013.  The date was subsequently moved up to 2014 and now the tentative date is 2015.  Silberman published a magazine article on the subject way back in 2001.  He's received a plug in this article  It's nothing really new.  Silberman is still citing the rapid rise of autism in the silicon valley and  the assortive mating theory as a reason.  I wonder if Silberman's book (assuming it's ever published at all) will cite statistics showing autism grew faster in the silicon valley than in other parts of the country or world.  I've written previously  that of the 21 regional centers in California, the rate of autism growth for the San Andreas RC (which serves the silicon valley) was 9th, falling far behind the rate of growth of the Lanterman and West Los Angeles regional centers.  I wonder how Silberman will explain that growth rate.  I've written about problems of the assortive mating theory and proponent's Simon Baron Cohen's lack of knowledge about genetics elsewhere.

Silberman name drops the notable Zuckerberg, Gates and Tesla and it looks likely he'll try to prove those people had autism.  Of course he does not go as far as Temple Grandin who has claimed that half of the silicon valley has autism but never bothered to get a diagnosis.  He also goes on about harnessing autistic intelligence and how if we stopped researching genetics and ways to harness the strengths of autistic people they can live more independently.  I'll look forward to reading about that hopefully sometime next year.

I'm also a tad curious whether Silberman, a gay man married to another man, will make comparisons between homosexuality and autism that others with neurodiverse leanings have made in the past.

As I've said before, I'll be interested in reading the book at some point and dissecting it point by point in a blog post.  Hopefully the publication won't be postponed to 2016 when we hit the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015.