Kristina Chew and ABFH on John McCain’s Autism Policy

I’m composing this here because I usually sound more rational when I’m writing on my own blog. It makes me actually have to look at what a person is saying as I formulate my response. When I reply to people on other blogs, I can easily come across as mentally insane: someone who’ll get into the gutter and launch personal attacks without shame. Granted, there are people here who tick me off, but I’m better on my own blog.

I was reading a post by ABFH on Whose Planet Is It Anyway?. (I’ll let the reader visit her site to find out what ABFH means, since James’ Thoughts and Musings tries to be G-rated.) The post is entitled, “Kristina Chew on John McCain’s Autism Policy”. Kristina Chew has a son with autism, and she says in an interview with Newsweek that John McCain is pandering to parents of special needs children, while ignoring the needs of adults with autism. ABFH comments that McCain hasn’t yet released policy proposals on disabilities.

I just loved the responses ABFH got! Here’s a sample, with yours truly being the source for the last quote:

“Did Ms. Chew suggest that an autistic adult might be a better person to interview than herself in regards to the needs of autistic adults? Or do we continue to be happy with the crumbs we are given? I’m sick of this crap of non-autistics speaking for autistics.”

“i’m wondering if we are in fact going to be better off or worse off with the government programs obama is proposing that are supposedly going to help disabled people become more independent. i ask the same question of mccain’s plan if cutting programs will help or hurt us in the long run of becoming more independent. the reason i ask is because i don’t want to have a self fulfilling prophecy, set forth by autism speaks and the like, where we down the line become a burden and dependent to the government because of the social programs obama wants to put in place. i ask this because i don’t want neurodiversity sending us backwards unintentionally.”

“I’m personally growing very tired of non-autistics professing to know what autistics want and/or need.”

“How many prepared statements does John McCain need to prepare? You gave us a link in the past, ABFH, in which McCain said he was committed to autism research and helping people with autism do well in life. Does he need to prepare a statement every week?”

I like these quotes because they highlight how I feel: I am tired of people claiming to speak for me, when their views don’t represent mine at all. I can sympathize with people in the African-American community who look at their self-appointed “leaders” and say, “Look, these guys don’t speak for me!” We’re all individuals. As the comments reveal, there are people on the spectrum who are conservative, moderate, liberal, and outside-the-box. Self-appointed “experts” and spokespersons do not speak for me. I speak for me.

That being said, here are some points:

1. It’s ironic that ABFH is presenting Kristina Chew as the person we should consult for guidance. Dr. Chew spoke highly of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries. ABFH, by contrast, views Hillary Clinton as a Nazi who wants to eliminate autism.

2. ABFH is wrong to suggest that John McCain hasn’t thought about the autism issue. She herself included a link on her website, in which John McCain talked about his policies for children and adults with autism, as well as acknowledged that autism is a “spectrum” condition that impacts people in a variety of ways (here). This latter point is important because, in her post “Obama and McCain on Autism,” Chew seemed to present Obama as so enlightened because he recognized autism as a spectrum. So does John McCain!

Also, in ABFH’s post that linked to McCain’s letter, ABFH was very selective in quoting John McCain (see “Comparing the Presidential Candidates’ Views on Autism”). She obviously wanted to make Barack Obama look better, which is fine, since she supports Barack Obama. But the picture she presents is not entirely accurate.

3. Many of the concerns that Chew raised to Newsweek have been resolved since that interview, in my opinion. In the interview, Chew said that Palin hasn’t been specific on her policy proposals for special needs children, that she doesn’t seem to distinguish between autistic kids and those with Down Syndrome, and that John McCain’s proposed spending freeze will hurt people with autism. In her posts, Sarah Palin Interview: Comments on Special Needs and The Autism “Debates”, however, Chew contains links on Palin’s policy proposals, points out that Palin’s sister has an autistic child, and says that McCain will exempt special needs funding from the spending freeze. Chew also said that McCain ignored adults with autism, but, as McCain’s letter that I linked to above demonstrates, he doesn’t do that.

But what do I know? I need people to speak for me!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Asperger's, Autism, Candidates, Current Events, Politics, Sarah Palin. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Kristina Chew and ABFH on John McCain’s Autism Policy

  1. Bryan L says:

    So who’s Autism policy proposal do you think would be better for the Autistic community (is that the right name?)

    MCain should have put that policy proposal on his website. At first I didn’t think he had any actual policy proposal until I saw the letter, although it still seems kind of general and lacking specifics.

    Obama’s policy proposal (that is on his website) on the other hand does seem a bit more specific as to what he would do. Whether I agree with his specifics or not (I do but then I’m not autistic so I don’t know if my opinion matters), at the least it makes me think that this is something the Obama campaign actually gave thought to when formulating their proposals.

    With McCain it just seems like something that they didn’t focus on at all but just tried to tack it on to their campaign after Palin joined and they are still lacking specifics but they aren’t worried about people questioning their sincerity on it because Palin has a child with special needs.

    So in comparing the two policy proposals who do you think would benefit autistic people and their families more?

    Bryan L


  2. Bryan L says:

    BTW you’re comments reminded me of the ones I made a while back about people like Palin not automatically speaking for me even though they claim to represent the “average Joe”.

    Bryan L


  3. James Pate says:

    It’s been a while since I compared the two, but, in my opinion, they’re pretty much the same. Both say we should spend more on research and helping autistic people cope with life (spend, spend, spend). Both support the revised ADA act. So I’d give McCain a “good enough” grade. Even if Obama were better on specifics, I wouldn’t vote for him because he contradicts a lot of other things that I believe in.


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