Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ari Ne'eman visits Ohio State

On November 29, Ari Ne'eman delivered a public lecture at Ohio State entitled "Neurodiversity and the College Campus," with over 50 people in attendance. Prior to the talk, an anonymous protester stood outside the conference room and handed out tracts that bore the following slogan: "'NEURODIVERSITY' is treatable with early detection." The author, who refused to name himself, claimed in the flyer that anyone who is autistic, by definition, cannot self-advocate, and additionally maintained that anyone belonging to ASAN is not disabled.

A photograph of Benzion, Noranne, Ari, Rachel, Melanie, and Justin
From left to right, top to bottom: Benzion, Noranne, Ari, Rachel, Melanie, and Justin
During his speech, Ari discussed the disability rights movement and the ways in which  autistic self-advocates have been systematically prevented from speaking in the conversations that concern them and their lives. During the Q&A session, the student president from the local Autism Speaks chapter made herself known and claimed that they were "just trying to help people like you." This exchange sparked a lengthy discussion, from autistic self-advocates, parents, and disability service professionals alike. Toward the end of the Q&A, one parent noted how appalled she was that so little funding from popular autism organizations went to quality of life issues.

Ari's talk was generously co-sponsored by the OSU Office of Student Life, the Autism Society of Central Ohio, and Aspirations Ohio. Video footage of the event (captioned) is available here.

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