Campus Free Speech

Harvard Students Slam Autism Awareness Panel as 'Violently Ableist'

The event was postponed in order to mollify students who said trying to treat autism was "hateful, eugenicist."


The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard University. It was slated to host a panel on autism titled "Autism Awareness: Thinking Outside the Box"; that event has now been postponed due to an outcry from students.

While such subjects as "alternative ways to treat autism" and "communicating with people on the autism spectrum" probably sound benign to most people, a petition created by Harvard students accuses the panelists of promoting "violently ableist" views.

"Autism is a neurodevelopmental and neurobiological disability that is not treatable or curable," wrote the petition's authors. "It is not an illness or disease and most importantly, it is not inherently negative. Autistic people at Harvard and globally have advocated in the face of ableism to defend ourselves from such hateful, eugenicist logic.

"By supporting such an event, Harvard is signaling that its campus is unsafe for Autistic people, and that is unacceptable. We call on organizers and attendees of this event to learn from Autistic self-advocates during this time."

The petitioners do make the reasonable point that perhaps the panel should have included an autistic person. One of the panelists—Marcia Hinds—did have experience raising an autistic child, though she was the expert the students objected to the most. Hinds' bookI Know You're in There: Winning Our War Against Autism, is an example of "violent misinformation" about autistic people, according to the students.

In an interview with The Harvard Crimson, Hinds said that the title refers to her personal war against her son's condition.

"Every once in a while, on a good day, I would catch a glimpse of the kid he was supposed to be before he slipped away again," she said. "That's the reason for the title, 'I Know You're In There: Winning Our War Against Autism.' Autism was trying to steal my son and I couldn't let that happen. And that's why for me it was a war."

The petition, which was signed by more than 1,500 people, describes this thinking as "eugenicist."

The criticism worked; the center announced yesterday that the panel would be postponed and retooled.

"We are grateful to those who brought important aspects of the event to light and always intend for our actions to be respectful and inclusive," said the center in a statement. "We are pausing, deeply reflecting and learning before we consciously take next steps."

It certainly would have been worthwhile to include the perspectives of autistic people. But the student petitioners make assertions that are simply not true: Autism may be incurable, but it's certainly treatable. Some people with the condition benefit from behavioral therapy or even medication. It's a broad disorder, and people who have it experience widely divergent symptoms. Discussing strategies for treating it is not wrong—and it is certainly not ableist, violent, or eugenicist.

Incidents of activist-oriented students at elite college campuses successfully preempting discussions that do not conform to an intersectional progressive mindset are by now so common that it's impossible to report on all of them. But more such incidents are occurring every day—and feckless administrators, perpetually afraid of giving offense, are letting them have their way.

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  1. Thinking Outside the Box...

    Such a cliched term I believe anyone using "thinking outside the box" is definitely not thinking outside the box.

    1. So your a containerist. One that is prejudice against containers

      1. Not everyone accepts Container Race Theory.

        1. I wonder what color the container is. And of course how it identifies and its own lived experience.

          1. It's a white container, but it identifies as native american.

          2. If you use salvia divinorum you have a chance to see the world from the containers perspective.

    2. I'm thinking of a cat inside a box, but I don't know if it's alive or dead. But I want to bite it.

      Schroedinger's dog

    3. The best response to "thinking outside the box" I've ever seen:

      If you constantly have to "think out side the box" to solve your problems, then you are probably in the wrong box.

      1. The box is just an imaginary social social construct. There are no people inside of boxes or outside of boxes. It's really more of a spectrum.

        1. Judging from all the homeless people in fridge containers in Progressive-run cities, I know that's not right..

    4. Progtard normies can’t think at all. Inside the box, outside the box. Doesn’t matter.

  2. "[Autism] is not an illness or disease and most importantly, it is not inherently negative."

    "Unfortunately, this can not be said for the condition exhibited by activist-oriented students at elite college campuses."

    1. "activist-oriented students at elite college campuses"

      We need to quarantine them. 14 days ought to do it.

      1. As long as those 14 days are as long as the ones it took to slow the spread.

      2. We should probably quarantine them in space without a suit, just to be sure.

        1. Seconded. But, it would be less expensive, or, if one were trying to get the greens on board, better for the environment by way of not using rocket fuel, to quarantine them inside solid concrete, under water, or in airtight containers. Then, for good measure, find who taught them these interesting ideas, and quarantine these people as well. For the children, of course.

          1. There’s a discussion of boxes upthread. Maybe use that. See if they float?

      3. There’s a more expedient procedure. Take a plastic bag, seal it around the activist’s neck. Wait 14 minutes.

        Problem solved.

        1. As long as the bag is plant-based, and not made from hydrocarbons. it has to be compostable.

    2. Just get over it you pussies

      What an ableist attitude those anti-ableism activists have.

    3. It definitely has a lot of negatives though, and autism awareness type stuff tends to be focused on dealing with that.
      I don't feel that bad about saying that when a poor dude gets overwhelmed by an assault of sensations and starts performing a berzerker beatdown on his eldery mother that it's an inherent negative.

      1. Unless you agree with MEEEE... And I am saying that ALL copies of "Big Bang Theory" shows must be ERADICATED OFF OF THE FACE OF THE EARTH as being ableist anti-autistic, degrading shows... Then YOU must be an ableist anti-autistic non-PC, un-woke nasty person!!!!

        1. See this dude here for an example of pseudo-autistic vulnerable narcissism.

    4. Well said. Degrees and high IQ do not equate to intelligence (let alone ethical behavior). Once again, proving that common sense is uncommon, especially in the indoctrinated left wannabe sphere.

    5. And autism is not inherently positive either. Reasonable people might decide they don't like how autism affects them or their dependents and choose treatment.

      This reminds me of people who object to cochlear implants because it threatens deaf culture. That's a choice you can make, just don't get in the way of people who _do_ want implants.

  3. Was this stolen from The Babylon Bee?

    1. Yeah, and they're really pissed that now they have to come up with something new for next week instead of this.

      That oracle of their is slipping fast.

  4. Are the students who complained autistic? If not, why would they think their opinion is worth so much more than those who have raised an autistic child, a teacher who teaches autistic children, or a physician who treats autism?

    Why do these universities let the students, those with the least amount of experience with life in general, dictate as to what can or cannot be discussed in the university setting? Everyone of these students are going to fail in life since their entire existence consists of being constantly offended.

    1. Mild forms of autism are actually quite beneficial. According to some measures, a substantial portion or even the majority of engineers have it. As we cannot intuit social cues, it promotes learning, observation, and problem solving from a very early age.

      I'm not completely convinced either way from such a limited article, but I do tend to be more angered at the patronizing way that groups tend to treat us. More often than not, these "helpful" organizations serve only to enrich themselves or to dispense pedantic advise developed for the most severely affected, which insulting to the vast majority of us.

      1. As one of my coworkers told his autistic son, if autistic couldn't be engineers our department would be half the size

      2. The same could be said of bad eyesight. I was the only person in my entire engineering class in college who didn't need glasses or contacts to see. Should we not endeavor to treat or cure bad eyesight?

        Hell ADHD is also common in engineers, but if you try to stop someone from developing treatments or cures for it, I'll knife fight you in a back alley.

        1. And broken bones -- is it ableist to mend them?

          Or heart attacks or cancer.

          Damn, these patronizing idiots have barely touched the surface -- they'll have years to tie themselves in knots.

          1. This may or may not be an optimal link to show it, but the "deaf community" has been known to object to curing deafness! Curing deafness is "cultural genocide" on deaf people!!!


        2. Except there is no cure. You aren't fixing something that is broken.

          You are talking about fundamentally altering a mind away from a state that has benefits and changing it to be "normal". I really don't have an analogy that I can think of.

          I will also point out the pedantic and insulting manner of most "pro-autism" projects, as well as the self-aggrandizing groups that enrich themselves by "helping".

          They would help more autistic people by throwing a Star Trek convention.

          1. Some people with mild forms of autism find it beneficial.

            And then there are the ones who never speak or even learn to use the toilet.

            Almost like all these Harvard "spectrum" fucktards ignore the fact that a spectrum means there's a lot of variety.

            This program wasn't about mildly aspie folks that are going to Harvard. It's about the ones that can't learn to tie their own fucking shoes. No, I mean the ones that can't tie their own shoes and aren't going to Harvard.

        3. Just this. Why not try to do better no matter what you have? My grandson is autistic. His parents work everyday with him to get through to him. And over the years they have tried many different things, using those that work for him. Will he ever be able to live on his own? Nobody knows but we’re all working on it. What a tragedy it would be if they just threw up their hands and said that’s just the way he will always be. How dare these students totally disregard his ability to learn and change.

      3. IMO all people could use a bit more autism. Just think, more preference to avoid crowds, less inclination to socialize just for the sake of socializing, more iconoclastic thinking--the Libertarian party could explode!

          1. First obviously autistic person I ever met also was a Downs Syndrome sufferer. This was a good 50 years ago, when "mongoloid child" was still in common use. A good friend's eldest sister was born that way, and in her 20s she was virtually locked in a biological prism: uncommunicative, at least in any way a base-line "neurotypical" person could understand. Wailing and slapping the back of her hand on her forehead was her most energetic attempt to communicate, if that was what it was. Now, that's an extreme example. I remember how I thought my buddy's parents were extraordinarily brave to have their #2 and #3 children, who were healthy, attractive and highly intelligent. Abortion was illegal then, so even if they had known a Downs child was coming there was no way to avoid raising her, other than putting her up for adoption or institutionalizing her. Her autism was certainly something that should have been cured. There's a reason it's called a spectrum. High functioners are way over on the other side from my friend's sister, and trying to make them "normal" was probably a waste of time and resources, compared to healing those on the other end. Nowadays?

            {Highly improbable scenario follows...}

            My buddy had a sister who was the middle child. She was pretty cute. If I had ever had a shot with her I'd have never taken it, for fear that it might result in a child with her sister's affliction.

      4. "Beneficial" is in the eye of the beholder. I'm a nerdy engineer with questionable people skills. I often wonder if I'm borderline on the spectrum.

        If someone told me I'd be a less focused engineer but would have an easier time connecting with people, I'd have to think long and hard about it.

    2. It's a safe guess that the complaining activists are white-knighting, though may have adopted the oh so trendy 'neurodivergent' label in addition to their personal pronouns. It seems to be the rage in the affluent and, by definition, privileged, that they must find proof of their struggle to live.

      1. Almost certainly. Those noxious fucks infest the computer scene. They can't get away with claiming they're black yet, and if you claim to be somewhere in the D73HWA8TJRIE3%^&#b& crowd you might actually have conflicts with people, but how can anyone really know what's going on inside their head. So they get to move up a couple of ranks on the victim hierarchy.

  5. >>it is not inherently negative

    I see the inherently negative angle and believe it is inherently retarded.

  6. It certainly would have been worthwhile to include the perspectives of autistic people.

    Not for the people protesting: "How could they know what's best for them? I go to Harvard. I know what's best for them."

    1. He's wearing my Harvard tie. Oh sure... heeee went to Harvard.

    2. "My lived experience has shown me that People Of Harvard Accreditation know what's best for others."

    3. At what point can we say that an Ivy League degree is a certification of idiocy?

      1. I'm OK with "now". Does "now" work for you?

  7. Violently abelist... makes me picture a bunch of angry putzes tipping over wheelchairs and kicking the shit out of handicapped people.

    The more I hear this stuff the louder I laugh.

    1. For some reason I just pictured a guy pounding out pull-up after pull-up in front of a guy in traction.

    2. Maybe they’re practicing darwinists. You know survival of the fittest. No vaccines or medical treatments, if a disaster happens don’t send help, think of yourself and your survival first. What a wonderful mindset.

    3. Nah. The violently abelist get killed by their brothers, but put up a good fight. 🙂

      1. Someone will raise Cain about that!

  8. We..always intend for our actions to be respectful and inclusive,"

    Therefore in the name of tolerance and universality we will cancel anyone who does not show fealty to the far corners of progressive insanity.

  9. I had google "ableist." I guess I'm that now too.

  10. "We are pausing, deeply reflecting and learning before we consciously take next steps."

    How much deep reflection involves taking a knee.

    1. It's abhorrent. What they're saying is that the students are the masters and they are but the learners. The inmates ARE running the asylum.

    2. "Taking steps" is ableist language, isn't it ? Maybe they should ramp up their efforts. 🙂

      1. *lmao*

  11. So when will Harvard students protest the concept that the university is trying to change their knowledge and cognitive abilities? Don't they have a right to spend four years on campus without endangering the ignorance and foolishness they arrived with?

    1. "endangering" or "enhancing"

  12. More and more, I become convinced the world went to hell when parents stopped spanking their children.

    1. That, and letting women vote.

      1. Key word is "letting". Even women know men let them do stuff.

    2. Dr. Spoooooooooooooooooooooock!

  13. There is, in fact, some pretty horrific history of "treatments" for autism spectrum disorders that can easy fit within the label of "violent." And I believe that the Judge Rotenberg Center still uses non-consensual shock therapy and historically has used various "behavioral" treatments that involve physical harm and that are highly controversial. I doubt that you should assume that everyone at Harvard engaged in this protest is ignorant of issues concerning treatment of autism spectrum disorders just because they suggest that some approaches are "violent".

    It is easy to label young protesters at places such as Harvard as ignorant elitists who are mindlessly following some progressive trend without any understanding of the issues. But the autistic self-advocacy network (ASAN) and other similar groups have been making the points that these protesters are making for years--that many people on the spectrum consider it to be part of their identity and do not want to be "cured" (particularly by violent methods).

    1. It is easy to label young protesters at places such as Harvard as ignorant elitists who are mindlessly following some progressive trend without any understanding of the issues.

      That's precisely the problem. No one is entitled to special attention or privileges based on whatever thing or condition he may identify himself as.

      1. Mormons round em up and put them in camps and abusive institutions.

        Because Mormons are evil.

    2. Do more research on electro shock.

    3. So let them be heard and counter that with which you disagree.

    4. One location does not make a group of ignorant elitists somehow less ignorant or elitist. Nor does one location imply that all treatment is violent.

  14. Nothing to see here. That 372lb woman is perfectly capable of doing all the same stuff that 144lb track star is.

  15. My autistic son is 27, and I have spent the last 12 years teaching disabled students, so I may have some expertise on the subject of autism. In 2013, the DSM changed the diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome to make it part of Autism Spectrum Disorder. People with Asperger's are often brilliant, the type of people who attend Ivy League schools and can learn to navigate the world. Other people with autism are often non verbal, overcome with sensory difficulties, and unable to hold even a menial job. Unfortunately, people who ten years ago would have received a more accurate diagnosis are now preventing people who are barely able to function from getting help because we use the same word to describe them both. I think everyone would benefit from getting the help they need instead of the truly disabled being ignored in order to please a minority who want to play word games about an inaccurate diagnosis.

    1. As someone with Asperger's, with a family member with a more difficult case of ASD, I agree with your comment here. One-size-fits-all treatment is not going to work with the various iterations of ASD - and that approach is currently failing my niece, who needs support and isn't getting it.
      And while some people may not consider ASD to be a 'disability' or 'disorder,' speaking as someone at the milder end of the spectrum, I sure as hell DO consider it to be a disability. It's affected nearly every aspect of my life, and I'd HAPPILY trade the extra focus it gave me for working on programming problems to have had a better relationship with my children.

      1. "Hey man, quit sad-shaming people who are depressively-abled!"

    2. I appreciate the comment. I was aware of the growth of the Autism Spectrum Disorder to be increasingly inclusive, but I had not thought of that consequence of it. That's an interesting point.

    3. Seems like the activists are ignoring the more severe cases. Or are just idiots. If someone has Aspergers and makes it work for them, then great. I'd totally agree that it's not a disorder that needs cure or treatment necessarily. But I can't believe that it's not a good thing to try to treat those who are more severely disabled. There have been some pretty horrible things done in the past, but it seems like there are some pretty good approaches to improving the lives of the more traditionally (sorry if that's a weird word choice) autistic.

    4. I think everyone would benefit from getting the help they need instead of the truly disabled being ignored in order to please a minority who want to play word games about an inaccurate diagnosis.

      It's worse than that. Half these people are cosplaying at being Aspie because it lets them claim victim points and use it as an excuse to get away with being an asshole. A lot of these people don't have any sort of autism at all. They're interfering with the treatment of some severely disabled people so they can feel righteous.

  16. Harvard students trick into conflict, when it's really about money and power. I know an autistic man who functions like a two year old, and is in constant care. Forget the word games. How should he be treated?

  17. Meanwhile, a Harvard prof declares that Disney erred not by jumping into Florida politics and alienating half their potential customers, but by not jumping into Florida politics sooner:

    "I don't think [Disney CEO Bob Chapek] did his homework," Bill George, a Harvard Business School professor and former chairman and CEO of medical device company, Medtronic, told Yahoo Finance. "We're in a different world today — he was acting like he was back in the 1990s. In this world of 2022, you have all kinds of stakeholders who expect you to take a position, especially your employees," the professor continued, adding that workers today have found their voice "particularly in this post-COVID world." "They want to be respected and heard, and they want their CEOs to speak on their behalf," he said, saying that Bob Chapek's silence on the Parental Rights in Education Act, or what critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, created the "uproar" that eventually led to the political crossfire with DeSantis.

    1. But not everyone agrees. Somehow Bloomberg let a pro-business commentary get published:

      But the problem with corporate progressivism is that it is destined to be as counterproductive as it is windy. How can you renew business’s license to operate if you are alienating the conservative half of the country? Michael Jordan’s famous observation that Republicans buy sneakers, too, needs to be modified in the light of today’s corporate antics: Republicans have values too. The more businesses endorse the left side of the culture war, the more they will motivate the other side.

      1. Republicans buy sneakers, too, needs to be modified in the light of today’s corporate antics: Republicans have values too.

        You notice no one has ever said about a billion dollar mega-corporation's antics, "Hey, Democrats buy xxx too!"

        1. Well, no. The steal it.

    2. "In this world of 2022, you have all kinds of stakeholders who expect you to take a position, especially your employees,"

      None of whom have any real "stake" in the success of the corporation.

    3. Weird cogdis here. This Bill George guy thinks you have to take a position because of stakeholders, but doesn't realize that doing so puts you in legal peril as not all stakeholders share that position?

      In addition to "Republicans buy sneakers too," Republicans work too.

  18. I'm so fricking sick of these nutjobs and the cowardly institutions who betray their own integrity by trying to "mollify" them.

  19. According to the Harvard website there are 25,110 students enrolled this year. So 1,500 names on a petition, who may or may not be students, means <6 percent of the total enrollment were allowed to shut down a program the other 94+ percent of students, plus profs and other interested people, may have benefitted from. And they did it before they knew what was going to be said, as they apparently objected most strenuously to the person with the most experience in actually dealing with severe autism. Cancel culture at its most egregious.
    The administrators bending the knee to them are cowards, unfit to manage any institution of learning.

    1. This shit will continue until and unless university administrators relocate their testicles and start expelling children who can't behave in a civilized manner.


  20. > violently ableist

    My brain can't cope with that phrase

  21. "We are pausing, deeply reflecting and learning before we consciously take next steps."

    This new flavor of boilerplate is absolutely sickening.

  22. Why do students even go to college? They already know everything.

    1. So they don't have to work for a living?

    2. That's what I was thinking. They simultaneously want to be protected as if they were children and also want the rest of the world to defer to their opinions.

  23. Gotta postpone it... gotta watch Wapner instead.... Wapner is at 7:30!

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  25. I'm surprised they use the term "disability". Doesn't that imply something that actually is "inherently negative"?

    1. Nope! Disabled isn’t a bad word. Only people who find disabilities to be negative would treat it that way.

  26. Thomas Sowell was right. However he said that every crisis has some putzes from Harvard connected to its cause.
    We have family on the spectrum and took care of an uncle for 12 years who knew there was something wrong with himself, but could not change it. No operation or pill can solve this situation.
    Harvard students can jump in the Charles river and try to stay healthy.

    1. Now now, let's be respectful of other cultures and try to embrace the whole world. Those people should also feel free to go gargle the Ganges.

  27. Anyone who uses "ableist" as a pejorative is not a doctor I'd ever hire.

  28. here's an idea. If you don't like the way an event was organized, then organize your own fucking event with panelists you want. otherwise, GTFO, crybullies.

  29. So the lesson learned is plan your event in secret, invite your guests and give them the topics, tell them not to speak with anyone, but never title your event with anything other than "Experts may Discuss Autism, and then again, they may not" at Harvard on May 3rd, Bradley Hall.

  30. The event was postponed in order to mollify students who said trying to treat autism was "hateful, eugenicist."

    So is the whole practice of Medicine "hateful" and "eugenicist" for simply saving lives and health and making even consenting human beings or their children and wards better?

    The only good thinv you can say about such Luddite activists is that, if they practice what they preach, they won't livexlong enough to bother anybody else.

    1. if they practice what they preach

      So, did you enjoy your birthday yesterday? ')

  31. "By supporting such an event, Harvard is signaling that its campus is unsafe for Autistic people..."

    Wait, what? Bit of a leap there Jackson, from "we want to provide options for people with a potentially debilitating condition" to "you're not welcome here mutant, get lost."

    Fer crying out loud, can we have a little tolerance and acceptance for people with different opinions from us? We seem to want to tolerate and accept all sorts of other things.

  32. In my opinion as a diagnosed Aspie autist, these woke, ignorant morons need to shut the hell up. They don't speak for everyone.

  33. Not just ableist, but violently ableist. These activists are living in a different world than the rest of us.

  34. Imo as a diagnosed autistic… it’s exhausting being treated like a burden. It’s gutting how openly even medical and professional fields treat autism as a worst case scenario, how often even these professionals conflate autism with its comorbid diagnoses. And on top of that, disrespect and invalidate autistic peoples stances based on their outward observations of autism.

    Autistic people who are significantly disabled and have a lot of comorbid diagnoses deserve humanizing language, respect, and agency. Autistic people who aren’t severely disabled and/or have less comorbid diagnoses still understand autism better than someone who merely observes it. I’ll never live independently, I require a caretaker, I have a learning disability, there’s a lot I can’t do. But I’m exhausted of aspie supremicists siding with harmful rhetoric and trying so hard to separate themselves from people like me, my peers, who deserve respect and being heard.

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