Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Why Disabled People Can't Afford Having the ACA Repealed

As many people know, Republican congresspeople are attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The House passed the American Health Care Act, and the Senate is proposing the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Some of the changes that will occur under the American Health Care Act include reduced funding to Medicaid, decreased assistance to low-income people, removal of the insurance mandate, and decreased coverage for reproductive health care. AHCA in particular will allow insurers to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. These changes will lead to disabled people being denied healthcare, especially those who are poor or female.

If the AHCA passes, disabled people will be one demographic group affected, since it will allow insurers to deny insurance based on someone having a preexisting condition. Regardless of whether you agree with the medicalization of disability or not, disabilities are often classified as medical conditions by our current system, and many of them are long-term. Thus, allowing insurers to deny people based on preexisting conditions necessarily allows institutional ableism. The consequences of this can go beyond disability-related healthcare. Combined with not requiring coverage of reproductive care and the defunding of Planned Parenthood, female disabled people would lose their reproductive rights. Even worse, some disabled people cannot have a safe pregnancy due to their disability. For example, Kassiane Sibley cannot have children due to her multiple disabilities, which she describes here. If the bill passes, disabled people will be denied healthcare that abled people get to enjoy.

This decreased access to health care would threaten the lives of disabled people, since many of them need more health care due to being disabled. For example, people with epilepsy need medication to decrease the risk of having a seizure. If they are denied medication, their seizures can get themselves injured or killed, especially if they go into status epilepticus. This legislation will not simply cause difficulty for disabled people. It will actually kill people.

That said, not every disability needs medical treatment. However, even for people with those disabilities, this legislation would disable them even more. Many disability services are served through the healthcare system, particularly those that help disabled people acquire skills. For example, I do not use any medication for my autism, cerebral palsy, anxiety, or depression (and whatever those periods of overexcitement are). Nevertheless, I rely on speech therapy to improve my communication and psychotherapy to improve my coping skills. Without these therapies, I would have a harder time dealing with the demands of college, and I may not get to a point where I can keep a job, even with accommodations (that isn't to say accommodations aren't helpful, though they don't always sufficiently reduce disability). These therapies are covered by health insurance, so repealing the ACA would prevent many disabled people similar to me from fully participating in life.

Finally, if either bill passes, health care will become more costly. The financial aid people will receive will be decreased, and people will have to pay more out of pocket. This is because the American Health Care Act would not give aid based on income, and both acts would allow states to cover less medical conditions. Thus, people who are poor and disabled would be in deep trouble. This would hurt many disabled people, since they are more likely to be in poverty than the general population. In order to protect disabled people's rights, that substantial subset of the population needs to be considered.

In order to protect disabled lives, it is imperative these bills fail to pass. We must contact the Senate to prevent the ACA from being repealed. We must speak out about the consequences of these dangerous bills. The American healthcare system must not be set back, and with our voices, we can make sure most Americans get the healthcare they deserve.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Why the Murphy Bill Will Harm Neurodivergent People

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act is a bill that is said to increase access to mental health services. However, it is not as innocuous as it sounds. It was proposed due to the idea that mass shootings are due to people with mental illness. However, the diagnoses of mental illness in shooters are highly speculative and done by people with little understanding of what the mental illness they are armchair diagnosing is. They may even call a condition a mental illness when it is not, such as when they diagnose a shooter with autism. This trend demonizes neurodivergent people by making the public believe that they are violent.

On top of the saneist basis for the bill, it would allow the rights of neurodivergent people to be violated. One right that it can violate is their right to privacy. The bill allows a loophole in HIPAA that allows anyone considered a caregiver to access someone's mental health records. This includes past legal guardians. This means that abusive parents can access them to use them against their child. Even though a documented history of abuse keeps them from being considered a caregiver, they often can get away with abuse.

Another right it would violate is the right to consent to treatment. The act would allow someone to have court-ordered treatment if they meet a certain set of criteria. One of them is if they are "persistently and acutely disabled". One of the criterion for being considered persistently and acutely disabled is if their illness impairs their ability to make an informed decision about treatment. However, because it is commonly believed that a mentally ill person withholding consent is a sign that they lack insight, this will not protect them against abuse.

Finally, the act would make changes to PAIMI that would make it far more difficult to protect the rights of the mentally ill. It would discourage the mentally ill to speak up if their treatment is harmful or if their caregiver is abusive, compounding the problems with coercive treatment and privacy violations. It would discourage counseling if someone wants to refuse treatment or go against their caregiver's wishes. On top of that, it would only advocate against the neglect and abuse of the mentally ill, keeping other issues the mentally ill have from being advocated for. Also, because mentally ill individuals would not be supported if their treatment is harmful, it would fail in protecting them against abuse.

If you live in the US and have spoons, please make sure to contact your senator about this bill. Also, please make sure to let other people know the harm this bill would do.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Don't Blame Us for the Bigotry We Receive

Many people try to convince others that the hatred we neurodivergent people are on the receiving end of is our fault. We are taught social skills curricula such as Social Thinking teaching us that our behaviors are a direct cause of people having "weird thoughts" about us, and organizations like Autism Speaks and NAMI convince neurotypicals that neurodivergent people are burdens. But bigotry is the fault of the perpetrator, not the victim.

There are more factors that affect people's reactions than another person's behavior. People's reactions to people's behavior has a lot to do with cultural attitudes, telling them what is socially appropriate behavior and what is socially inappropriate behavior, and what kinds of behavior are signs that someone may be dangerous. In a culture where we are taught that behavior of people of certain neurotypes are socially inappropriate or are a sign that someone is dangerous, those people are going to get a lot of hate. To solve that problem, we have to change society, not ourselves.

Also, if someone knows that someone is disabled, and they act ableist towards them because of that, this is definitely not the disabled person's fault. The only thing the disabled person is doing is existing as a disabled person.

The belief that neurodivergent people are to blame for being discriminated against is wrong in both ways. Not only is it incorrect, but it also harms people. It can lead to ND people to feel guilt when they are discriminated against, or even become depressed. ND people should know that no matter what other people say, they are not to blame.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Autism and Schizophrenia Are Not Opposites

Autism and schizophrenic spectrum conditions are often considered opposites. However, people who are both autistic and on the schizophrenic spectrum exist (for example, SteelMaiden on The reasons given for those two types of neurologies being opposites is based on stereotypes of autistic people.

One stereotype given as a reason is that they are opposites is that autistics are better at math than art. However, some autistic people are bad at math, and some autistic people are good artists (and I'm not just talking about drawing real things accurately).

Another stereotype that is used to support the argument is that autistics lack a theory of mind. However, the very concept of theory of mind is fundamentally flawed. When autistics don't understand neurotypicals, it is attributed in the theory of mind deficits of the autistic person. When neurotypicals don't understand autistic people, this is also attributed to the autistic's poor theory of mind. Is it possible that neither of them can understand the other's experiences? Furthermore, there is evidence that failing theory of mind tests may be due to difficulty processing sentence structures in Theory of Mind tests.

Finally, people use the stereotype that autistic people lack imagination. It boggles my mind why people think that, as I've never seen that in autistics, and I don't think I can give a good explanation, so I'll just leave you with this link:

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Personality Disorders and the Social Model of Disability

Personality disorders are conditions in which a person's personality is drastically different from social norms. Often, these conditions are said to be inflexible and maladaptive. People with these conditions are said to be unable to adapt their personality, which makes the case that the conditions are diabilities. And, they are said to blame the challenges they create on others and society.

Wait a minute.

Personality is drastically different from social norms?
And they also blame the challenges they create on society?

Something doesn't add up.

Those contradictory statements said about personality disorders is an example of one of the problems with the medical model of disability: biased and inaccurate views of disabilities.

Personality disorders are highly stigmatized. Personality disordered people are often seen as abusers, when having a personality disorder does not make you necessarily abusive (even in antisocial individuals; many of them don't hurt others because they realize it will hurt them in the long run). Also, their problems are seen as all their fault when they did not choose to have a personality that is at odds with society, and even though one essential characteristic of personality disorders is that they significantly deviate from social norms. What is worse is that they are said to not realize that how their personality is is a problem, which is really a matter of opinion. They, like other people, have the right to hold a different opinion.

One way to resolve the stigma is to think of personality disorders using the social model of disability. Because the model says that disability is an interaction between an individual and society, personality disordered individuals would not be seen as entirely at fault; the reason they have so much difficulty is that the individual's personality and society clash, and if society were to accommodate personality disordered individuals, their difficulties would lessen.

Also, I would like to ask readers something. What do you think would be a more neurodiversity-friendly term for personality disorders? Please post your ideas in the comments.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Why I Am Against Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is the most prominent autism organization, so many people wonder why so many autistics are against Autism Speaks. This is why I am against Autism Speaks.

First off, Autism Speaks' budget doesn't give autistics much of what they need. Autism Speaks' funds mainly go to awareness and research, with only 4% going to services. Plus, its awareness portrays autism as a tragedy and the research it funds tries to find prevention and cure for autism.

Its awareness often says that autism is a tragedy. It often says that autism has taken away the real child. It tries to portray autistics as burdens by saying things like how much it costs to care for an autistic child. It uses functioning labels, which are inaccurate and often lead to under or over-estimation of an autistics abilities. It also uses the medical model (I have written about its flaws in this post). It spreads many other myths, too, such as autistics being worse at Theory of Mind than neurotypicals and that autism is an epidemic.

Its research into the causes of autism often equates correlation with causation. Doing so is bad science. Also, those studies are often used to scare people into thinking autism is a tragedy.

Also, there are no autistics on its board. This makes the name "Autism Speaks" misleading. In fact, Autism Speaks silences autistics while claiming to speak for them. A more accurate name for Autism Speaks would be "Parents Putting Words in Autistics' Mouths".

Also, Autism Speaks supports ABA. However, ABA, when done in the way it is intended, is abusive. Many autistics have reported getting PTSD from being subjected to ABA.

This is why I am against Autism Speaks. What actually supports autistics are organizations such as the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Anti-Vaccination Activists, Consider This

People who are against vaccines, consider this. The research published by Andrew Lakefield was a fraud. The data was manipulated to make it look like the MMR vaccine causes autism. Furthermore, further research has found no relationship between vaccines and autism.

Not convinced? Then consider this. What is worse, having a child with a neurological difference, or having a child be exposed to a disease that can result in permanent hearing loss and causes death 1 or 2 out of 1,000 cases?

Autism gives individuals intense interests that eventually make them an expert, a unique perspective, and better self-awareness. It also makes them see things as they are. And how is that worse than getting a disease?