I’m operating on about three hours of sleep. The piece I rewrote about Simon Baron-Cohen and The Theory Of Mind for the Huffington Post was published yesterday evening. I knew I’d get some opposing views. I’m used to that. I understand that by putting my thoughts out there, people will and do disagree. So irritating when people disagree with me. Eye roll, sharp intake of breath.
When I began writing at the Huffington Post I submitted a piece about Emma and her interesting use of language. It was not a scholarly piece, (none of my pieces are, it’s not what I write) just some observations and thoughts I had. Once the piece was published I received a couple of scathing comments, many of which were marked as “abusive” and were removed, but one that remains, was from a retired speech pathologist who wrote, ”A jewelry designer (author of the article) who has bizarre ideas about language development should be countered by an expert opinion.” I imagined as she wrote that comment she was looking grim and making tsking sounds. I felt as though I were back in first grade being scolded for not paying attention.
Another piece I submitted about Emma’s painting, a number of people made derogatory comments, which were removed. One of those comments was, (I’m paraphrasing here) Oh great! Stupid references to Dr. Seuss, Autism and painting all in one sentence. How is this news?
News? I was supposed to write a journalistic, investigative piece? Shit! Where was I when that memo got sent? I thought I was writing a piece about the joy I felt watching my daughter paint.
It’s anxiety causing to get such contemptuous responses, but over the years I’ve developed a “thicker skin” though I’m so literal-minded that phrase strikes me as really creepy. Still, in this last piece it is I who am attacking someone else. And while I’m sure Simon Baron-Cohen wouldn’t lose any sleep were he made aware of my rant about his questionable test and the even more questionable conclusions he’s drawn, it’s not in my nature to attack others. I don’t feel comfortable doing it. Against my better judgement I submitted the piece anyway because I believe strongly in its message.
As I reiterated in a comment I made to another person’s response – SBC is presenting himself as an “expert” on autism. It isn’t as though he was the parent of an Autistic child, had a blog and wrote the occasional piece for the Huffington Post, while making inflammatory statements, which everyone could read, laugh, argue with and forget. He has made a career for himself, based on his academic achievements. His theories should and must be held to a higher standard. His words and ideas have tremendous power. It is irresponsible to be in such a position of power while basing ideas and theories on faulty tests with no consideration of the implications. I, too, could cite many examples of my daughter’s actions, which could then be used to (erroneously) support SBC’s various theories. That doesn’t make his theory correct, it brings into question my thinking. I urge you to read Dr. Henry Markram’s alternate theory - http://www.wrongplanet.net/article419.html - I can find many more examples of Emma’s behaviors, which support his theory. The TOM theory is a dangerous one because of the way it can be used to justify the negative perceptions of Autistics. If someone has little or no empathy, we are much more likely to behave in a less caring manner toward them. We may insist this isn’t so, but there have been studies suggesting otherwise.”
As a result of all this I’ve paid the price by getting very little sleep. Ask me about the traffic patterns on 7th Avenue between the hours of 2 and 4. And exactly what was going on with that woman who kept shouting WooWoo at around 3:30AM? Was she celebrating? In the beginning stages of labor? These are the questions plaguing me at the moment.