Susan's Blog

Friday, February 2, 2007

What is to be done?

Chto Delat? [What is To Be Done?]
–Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, 1908

A lot is going on. Yesterday was miserable, a literal pain in the neck. I ached so much from that fall from skating that I had to use heating pads and get into bed. (Even so, in the morning I worked out because I missed my gym so much after being in DC, etc. Probably a mistake.) Ned helped me make dinner, it was so bad. Dinner is really my turf, but I needed a break.

I was also mad, very mad. The Boston Globe had an editorial about what needs to be done regarding special needs students, talking more about screening out dangerous ones. Read A Clash of Rights in Education and see if smoke comes out of your ears. The editors think they are being even-handed here, but they quote from some idiotic study the American Psychology Association did in 2003 that showed that special needs kids can be more dangerous than typical kids in school settings. How were they defining special needs? Who gains from this study? What do they mean by “dangerous?” These questions pounded in my head, along with my frustration that I have never been able to get the Globe to put my opeds on their page (somehow I’m good enough for the New York Times and the Washington Post, but not the oped of the Boston Globe, my hometown newspaper!) I guess you have to be affiliated with Harvard to get that.

(Oh, but now I will be! Well, not affiliated, but I have been asked to speak at Harvard Medical School’s autism conference in November. I am quite honored by that request. 90,000 medical professionals are asked to attend, throughout the country. My sister Laura (a doctor in NJ) told me she might go to the conference, which will be fantastic if she does.)

I am now working on both my book proposal and an essay for the Post. My agent has finally gotten back to me with the proposal, full of notes and comments. She loves it, but it needs a little honing. Fine, that’s what I expected from her. She’s the best. She’s also Sidney Poitier’s agent, and he’s not doing too badly these days!

My Post essay is going to be about screening: prenatal and in-school for “dangerous” special needs kids. The ACOG, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has just posted new recommendations whereby they will test and counsel all pregnant women, regardless of age, for Down Syndrome. So I wonder: how will they counsel? How neutral will they be? To what end is this testing and counseling? Will there be more abortions of Down Syndrome fetuses? What happens when they start testing for autistic babies?????? George Will wrote a good piece on this, for Newsweek, but not good enough; there’s not a whole lot of his heart in it, too many statistics. So I’m doing one, too. It looks like I am becoming less and less pro-choice…


There was talk, not so very long ago, about genetic testing for autism. The people who cry about vaccinations and fish products being the cause of autism were laughing it off. The rest of us were stupified into silence.
I am a pro-choice woman, and it frightens me to think that this is yet another choice women will be making. I routinely complain and whine about how hard things can be with Alena, but given the choice, I still would have carried her to term and kept her.
She’s my entire world.
It makes me sad to think that other women are going to miss out on this kind of joy.

— added by Jen on Friday, February 2, 2007 at 10:32 am

“Threats of Violence by Students in Special Education,” a study presented to the American Psychological Association in 2003, found that special education students issued threats at a significantly higher rate (33 per 1,000) than regular education students (6.9 per 1000). …

Both the article above that was cited in the editorial, as well as the editorial itself, use the above statement to sensationalize the violence aspect of the case, and tie it to special ed students.

The editorial then continues on to call for better screening of special ed students. It’s only later on that the following piece is cited:

…Of greater interest to the current debate, he explains, is the fact that not one of the 188 threats on the part of special education students documented by researchers led to an actual incident of violence. …

which basically says that, hey, maybe special ed students make more empty threats than NT students, but they aren’t more violent.

— added by Club 166 on Friday, February 2, 2007 at 11:54 am

With ref to the genetic screening, I doubt [hope] that it will make that much difference in the great scheme of things. People are more aware of autism in this decade that in any other, but as with any risk in pregnancy, depending upon your make up, it’s more a question of being forewarned. I doubt that abortions would increase, I really do, it’s only that if you knew in advance you’d be better prepared as a parent – think of all the reading and knowledge and training and advantages we’d have had if we’d had 6 months warning! I’d have been so much further up my own personal little learning curve that that in itself would have made a tremendous difference to both my boys.
Best wishes

— added by Maddy on Friday, February 2, 2007 at 12:08 pm

Did you pinch the Lenin reference off my blogsite then, or is this co-incidence

Using the sort of perverse logic that would prove Socrates is a cat I could say that Autism and Left wing communism must be synonymous, for according to Lenin, Left wing communism was an infantile disorder and according to Kanner, Autism was an infantile disorder.

No wonder I am so Bolshy.

— added by The author on Friday, February 2, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Laurentius –
I did not pinch from you. I have a Master’s Degree in Russian History from the Univ. of Pennsylvania… Got to use it sometime!!!

McEwen – I wish I shared your optimism. I fear that there will be MANY more abortions because of this. Or other forms of cruelty like the “Ashley Treatment.”

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, February 2, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Yes, I am fuming. Criminalizing disabled people is nothing knew. Captain Hook is an example of how fabled disabled figures are represented in narrative.

But this does make me so angry as it is another step towards segregation and true discrimination, not unlike what happened to the Jews.

— added by Estee Klar-Wolfond on Friday, February 2, 2007 at 4:22 pm

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