Since I don’t want to misgender A. Stout, I will use the pronoun they in reference to this author.
A. Stout wants us to know that electroconvulsive therapy isn’t done the way it was in the 1950’s. These days people subjected to electroconvulsive therapy are anesthetized and given muscle relaxers.
After reassuring readers of this, A. Stout asks, “Okay, are we good now? Have you caught your breath? Has your heart rate returned to normal?” Electroconvulsive Therapy Is Being Used to Treat Some People with Severe Autism
Silly me for not finding this proviso comforting, when the rest of the article lauds an approach that started as torture. It’s so bizarre that I’m not convinced a treatment that began in Nazi Germany with the torture of mentally ill and autistic people before their eventual murders is a good direction to take. Excuse me for thinking this treatment is torture when it was the foundation of Applied Behavior Analysis and Conversion Therapy used on LGBT people to try forcing them into being straight.
A. Stout refers to electroconvulsive therapy as a last resort measure, pointing out the dangers of short and long term damage to the memory. They say, “….recent evidence has risen that it may also benefit people with severe autism. Severe to the point where self-injury is so extreme that it’s constant and there’s little, if anything you can do to stop it….” Electroconvulsive Therapy Is Being Used to Treat Some People with Severe Autism
This is where writing/advocating on the topic of autism gets tricky. It’s discussions like these that get autistic people like me accused of hijacking the dialogue surrounding autism.
The language of the spectrum is the first tool used to divide. We are called high functioning while those with different challenges are called low functioning or severely autistic. What is the coded message? Simple: Tell those who are high functioning that they are stealing focus from people who need it more. Tell them to shut up.
Do I have a right to call electroconvulsive therapy torture when I don’t possess self-harming tendencies? Let me put it this way: I have as much right calling it torture as a Neurotypical person has to call it therapy. Their genetic history isn’t tied up with being tortured and murdered to develop this treatment.
Do I have the right to tell someone who is autistic and chooses (without pressure) to take this treatment that they are wrong? No, obviously not.
Do I have the right to tell a Neurotypical parent they are wrong for trying this treatment on their child who is in danger of killing themselves with self-harm?
…. Probably not. On the other hand, many of those same parents are the ones who tell me to shut up on social media. It’s hard to know how to respond to them. I want to be compassionate. It seems unlikely any parent would use these methods as anything but a last resort. Then again, there are parents giving their children bleach enemas and bleach pills in hopes it will cure their child of autism. You see the problem?
I think I’ll just stick to punching Nazis.