Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fine! I'll Weigh in on the DSM-V! You win! Jerks...

I started out writing this post entirely out of frustration.  You see, it's not that the DSM-V isn't important to me, and it's not that I think there's no problems with the new autism diagnostic criteria, it's just that the people who are voicing the biggest concerns about it also happen to be voicing the most ignorant concerns about it.

For instance, Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor who now enjoys a career reading corporate press releases and making snarky comments, decided earlier this week that she was smarter than people who actually have experience working with autistic people.  She's not even a journalist!  She's a mouthpiece for uninformed dissent.  Journalists actually go out into the world and do research and talk to people.  She invites "guest-oids" onto her show to drop 30 second bites of "expertise".  And yet, she gets attention.

I've also seen people claiming that persons with intellectual disabilities will be excluded from the diagnosis.  The central reason for this interpretation for the new criteria seems to be because the new criteria don't mention intellectual disabilities.  It just couldn't be possible that ID is simply not a criteria for autism.  It couldn't be possible that a person with an ID could also exhibit all of the "new" symptoms for autism and wind up getting diagnosed, right?  And if we did include ID as a symptom, that totally wouldn't affect those of us without IDs that are currently diagnosed.  I mean, we'd only be going the other direction and insisting that everyone with a "normal" (hate that word) intellectual skill set was excluded from the diagnosis.  That couldn't hurt anyone.

I'm digressing.  The point is that none of the people claiming these things are doctors.  I could go through every article that I've read, debunk every claim that I perceive to be false, and make a case for why the new criteria will actually help people like me who almost missed diagnosis because they don't fit neatly into "Aspergers" or "autism".  That's right.  That's what I see in the new criteria.

I could explain how, due to my extreme sensory processing issues and moderate verbal processing issues, I feel more "right" talking about my condition as autism, and how the assumption that "normal" language development and "normal" intellect meant that everyone I talked to assumed I was an Aspergian.  I could talk about how, while that did help them to understand that I needed help in certain areas, it also created blind spots and redundancies--I got support I didn't need in some areas, and no help with other issues that I was coping with.

I set out to tell you all, all of you who won't just reel in your indignation, about how wrong you are.  But I don't feel like it, because you would only have one thing to say to me, and that thing would deflate my entire carefully crafted argument.  That one thing, the thing that would make me look ridiculous?

You could say, but Mike, you're not a doctor.  What do you know?

And you know what?  You'd be right to say it.  I'm NOT a doctor.  I'm NOT a psychologist or a psychiatrist.  I'm a teacher with a developmental disorder, an adult that is barely making a go of living independently, and I'm NOT going to pretend I'm a doctor.

You know what else?  Nancy Grace, the people at Autism Speaks, the bloggers at Autisable, and those jackasses at Opposing Views are ALSO NOT DOCTORS.  At least, most of them aren't.

So why do we listen to them?  What are we gaining by getting angry on the internet?

You want to do something about the damned DSM-V criteria?  You want to do something to protect your child, your own diagnosis, your support systems, your future?

GO TALK TO YOUR DAMNED DOCTOR.

Get her to explain the new criteria to you.  In plain words.  Review whether or not this doctor/psychologist/whatever would have diagnosed you, your child, or your loved one under the criteria.  And if you find out something you don't like, then make your case to your doctor.  Because she has the professional connections to raise real objections.  She has the ability to write informed dissenting opinions that see the pages of medical and psychological research journals.  And guess what?  Real professionals will be persuaded by THAT, not by angry people on the internet.

Support is where you give it.  Find out if your doctor supports these criteria.  Find out how your doctor interprets these criteria.  Then, either support your doctor, or get her to support you.

You've spent too much time on the internet pretending to understand medical texts that you were never trained to understand.  Go help your family.