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January 2011



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First Published Sunday, 19 April 2009

Stop The Hate


I’m writing to ask you to sign our
petition<http://www.ipetitio ns.com/petition/ AttwoodHenault/>,
calling on Dr. Tony Attwood and Dr. Isabelle Hénault, two respected experts
in the world of Autism, to disassociate themselves from hate groups
promoting stereotypes and libels that seek to encourage discrimination
against Autistic people in family law and relationships. We in the
disability community have long suffered from many forms of discrimination,
stereotyping and discrimination. Historically, one of the most pervasive
forms of this type of discrimination has come from those who use stereotypes
and psuedo-science to try and deprive us of one of the most common ways of
expressing membership in the human community – the right to have a family,
to marry and to raise children on an equal basis with any other citizen. The
eugenics movement is one of the most well known examples of this dangerous
and unethical means of discriminating against people with disabilities, as
is the related idea that disabled people are inherently unfit as spouses or
parents. In the name of these kinds of stereotypes, people with disabilities
have been deprived of parental rights and discriminated against in divorce
and child custody cases for generations. In the Autistic community, we face
opponents who seek to propogate these same forms of hatred, often claiming
to do so either for our own good or wrapped in the guise of the same types
of false science that justified the involuntary sterilization of hundreds of
thousands of individuals worldwide who were deemed unfit to raise children.

For the last decade, groups like Families of Adults Afflicted with
Asperger’s Syndrome (FAAAS) have been promoting the idea that prolonged
family contact with Autistic adults in romantic or family relationships is
harmful to “normal” people. Amongst other methods, they have done this by
promoting “Cassandra Affective Deprivation Disorder,” a term invented by
British psychologist Maxine Aston. Cassandra Affective Deprivation Disorder,
a condition developed by Aston and which serves as the basis for much of her
marketing and income, is claimed by Aston to be a depressive disorder caused
by romantic involvement with an Autistic person. CADD is based entirely upon
pseudoscience, personal grudges, and stereotypes rather than any form of
accurate research or evidence. CADD has never been recognised by any
psychological association and is not supported by any peer-reviewed
scientific research. Aston and others involved with such groups have
purported to diagnose clients with CADD, despite having no legitimate
authority for doing so. In CADD support groups, clients are encouraged to
“vent” about the failures of their partners and to characterise Autistics in
general as unsuitable for family life.

Attwood and Hénault have, despite respected professional activities and
scholarships in other contexts, consistently appeared and promoted
Cassandra-related events and organizations. Over the past decade, both
Attwood and Hénault have been regular presenters at events sponsored by
FAAAS, which actively promotes the Cassandra concept. Attwood and Hénault
are closely associated with FAAAS through their membership in the FAAAS
Professional Advisory Panel. The founder of FAAAS, Karen Rodman, has
publicly described Autistics as randomly violent and has suggested that
Autistic children ought to be excluded from public schools. Through its
activities, FAAAS has sought to influence social workers and family law
courts to make biased decisions removing custody of children from Autistic
parents and discriminating against Autistic adults in other family law
contexts, as detailed in a paper by FAAAS member Sheila Jennings Linehan,
who also has levied this libel against other neurological disability groups.
Several articles by ASPIA, a group in Australia with the same goals and
objectives as FAAAS, founder Carol Grigg appear prominently on the FAAAS
website, and the content of Grigg’s articles clearly shows that she also
promotes the false accusation that autistic people and others with
disabilities are likely to abuse their family members. She explicitly makes
this claim in an article entitled Asperger’s Syndrome in Adults: Potential
for Abuse?

Though Autistic adults now face discrimination in family law settings, all
credible research on the topic states that Autistic people are far more
vulnerable to being abused than the general population and have no natural
predisposition towards abusive behaviour. By promoting a libel that places
Autistic people at a disadvantage in family law contexts, FAAAS, ASPIA and
other promoters of CADD have decreased opportunities for Autistic people to
seek protection against abuse. Due to the presumption of fault promoted by
these groups, Autistic adults are at risk of being discriminated against if
they attempt to terminate abusive marriages and other relationships.
Furthermore, these libels threaten the rights of Autistic people and all
people with disabilities to fully participate in society by marrying, having
children and enjoying the right to be judged on the basis of ones actions
not by ones medical diagnosis.

We’re asking you, regardless of your background or interest in Autism or
cross-disability issues, to join us in signing this petition to help secure
the rights of all people to be treated equally under the law. Our petition
can be found at: http://www.ipetitio ns.com/petition/ AttwoodHenault/ and if
you are interested in e-mailing directly tony@tonyattwood. com.au is the
e-mail address for Dr. Attwood and ihenault@internet. uqam.ca is the e-mail
address for Dr. Hénault. Thank you for your support. Together, we can
mobilize our community and stop discrimination wherever it rears its ugly

As always, Nothing About Us, Without Us!

Ari Ne’eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
http://www.autistic advocacy. org

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