Skip to content

Flash News Box | Watch this Space for Notifications

This blog is associated with The Emancipated Autism Project™.

Position Statement on Conscientization

May 31, 2009
For Immediate Release [first published on May 31, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism operates as a nonpartisan public sociology and advocacy journalism project. It fully supports the consistent application of United Nations values concerning human rights and social justice to all members of the Autistic community. The term, conscientization (kon-she-ən-shə-za‘-shən), anglicized from the Portugese conscientizacao, was used by the late Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire (1921-1997), to point to the attainment of a critical consciousness. One version of this concept was popularized by the 1970s American women’s liberation movement as consciousness raising. Briefly, conscientization addresses the attainment of knowledge or consciousness concerning the forces of domination or oppression and the subsequent struggle, by conscious individuals, for emancipation or liberation. Here is a description of the idea in Freire’s own words. It is taken from his blueprint for emancipation, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968):

One of the basic elements of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed is prescription. Every prescription represents the imposition of one individual’s choice upon another, transforming the consciousness of the person prescribed to into one that conforms with the prescriber’s consciousness. Thus, the behavior of the oppressed is a prescribed behavior, following as it does the guidelines of the oppressor…. Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion. To surmount the situation of oppression, people must first critically recognize its causes, so that through transforming action they can create a new situation, one which makes possible the pursuit of a fuller humanity…. However, the oppressed, who have adapted to the structure of domination in which they are immersed, and have become resigned to it, are inhibited from waging the struggle for freedom so long as they feel incapable of running the risks it requires…. The central problem is this: How can the oppressed, as divided, unauthentic beings, participate in developing the pedagogy of their liberation? Only as they discover themselves to be “hosts” of the oppressor can they contribute to the midwifery of their liberating pedagogy.

Freire believed that oppressed persons internalize their domination. As he wrote, in that same work, “The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom.” Thus, the oppressed person must not only fight the enemies external to her being, those who rob her of her freedom and autonomy. She must also fight the oppresser within. If a socially, politically, or economically dominated individual believes that she deserves her domination, or that she must in some fashion become resigned to it, then that inner phantasm must be defeated, as well. Although Freire developed his critical pedagogy as a tool to enlighten students, its applications have extended well beyond. The Autistic community, too, is unjustly dominated. Unemployment and poverty rates are commonly well in excess of averages. For instance, according to Autism researcher, Simon Baron-Cohen:

… the biggest risk is GPs [general practitioners] not realising how adults with Asperger syndrome may become suicidal from the secondary depression, which is common. This depression is associated with social isolation, the high levels of unemployment, the lack of close friends, the lack of a partner and the abuse that adults with Asperger’s may experience on the bus or in the supermarket or in other everyday situations. GPs need to give reassurance to adults with Asperger’s that just because their disability is invisible, they recognise the patient is suffering underneath and will help them find the right support.

In addition to poverty, Autists are routinely denied many supports which are simply taken for granted by most persons. It remains legal in most U.S. states to deny medical insurance to persons with an Autistic spectrum disorder. In my own state of Kansas, legislation which would have required insurance companies to cover Autistics just went down in defeat. Autistic children are also frequently subjected to a variety of physical abuses, including by school personnel. The League to Fight Neurelitism regards Autistic self-advocacy as, potentially, a form of conscientization. However, Autists must first attain a critical consciousness of their oppression and of the factors which serve to perpetuate it. They must also reject the internalized domination of defining themselves according to the norms of their oppressors and even mirroring their dominations against others. The battle for human rights cannot be merely a series of mechanical, nonideological responses to events. Any nonviolent revolutionary struggle, such as this one, must, if it is to have a chance of success, be principally proactive, not reactive. Respectfully submitted, Mark A. Foster, Ph.D. Founding Director, The League to Fight Neurelitism First published to


Official Proclamation of UN Public Service Day

May 21, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on May 21, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism, as a nonpartisan public sociology and advocacy journalism project, supports the application of United Nations values concerning human rights and social justice to all members of the Autistic community.

UN Public Service Day is described in these words on the United Nations Public Administration website:

The UN General Assembly, in its Resolution 57/277, designated 23 June as Public Service Day (A/RES/57/277). The UN Public Service Day intends to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlight the contribution of public service in the development process; recognize the work of public servants, and encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector. Since the first Awards Ceremony in 2003, the United Nations has received an increasing number of submissions from all around the world.

The Autistic self-advocacy community has been characterized by a history of activist public service for all Autists. Members of this community have also collaborated with other disabled populations. In this light, and with our confidence that such public service will continue and expand, we officially proclaim the twenty-third day of June, 2009, and each subsequent twenty-third day of June, as UN Public Service Day. The League to Fight Neurelitism hopes that, in drawing attention to this annual commemoration, even more Autists, and other disabled persons, may be inspired to engage in public service and activism themselves.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism

Originally published to:


Paulo Freire

May 12, 2009

Here is the late Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, discussing Karl Marx. Freire is one of the key figures, some would say the founder, of critical pedagogy (teaching as emancipation). I incorporate Freire’s critical pedagogy into my emancipatory constructionist theory and believe that it can work as one of the groundings of Autistic liberation.

In my personal narrative, I wrote the following:

The objective of such a struggle should be the attainment of what Paulo Freire referred to, in Portugese, as conscientizacao (i.e., conscientization, critical consciousness, or consciousness raising), that is to say, an awareness of the social contradictions of domination and of the emancipatory strategies for subduing them. Indeed, from a Freirian standpoint, the collaborative character of the educational process is encompased by a model of critical pedagogy. As in Mahayana Buddhism, the Bodhisattva becomes a preceptor to others, so the critical pedagogue imparts her conscientization to a tyrannized population. Approached in a thoughtful manner, praxis can become a normative framework for disability activism and self-advocacy.

The Institute for Emancipatory Constructionism and The League to Fight Neurelitism

May 4, 2009

The following message, slightly edited here, was posted to an email list.

New critical theory (NCT) is also known as postmodern critical theory. It is similar, though not identical, to critical postmodernism and to the post-Marxism of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe.

To elaborate, just as some first-generational critical theorists supplemented Karl Marx with Sigmund Freud and as Jurgen Habermas (of the second generation) mixed in pragmatism and systems theory (among others), NCTs are injected with postmodernism, poststructuralism, social constructionism, etc. Critical theories have been, and remain, decidedly ecclectic.

All critical theories (of whatever generation) emphasize a dialectic of domination (or oppression) and emancipation (or liberation from oppression). That is to say, critical theorists develop a praxis (theoretically reflective social action), centered on emancipation, on top of the theory itself. Praxis was also a central feature of Marx’s own radical theory.

In The League to Fight Neurelitism, an Autistic activist project I founded, I work with other Autists on human (including civil) rights issues concerning the Autistic community. Autists are frequently the objects of discrimination in schools (bullying), the workplace, the courts (e.g., child custody cases), etc. The League to Fight Neurelitism is an expression of the praxis I have developed in The Institute for Emancipatory Constructionism.


April 26, 2009

I just posted the following on a message board.

The vaccination issue is very troubling. In spite of of a broad scientific and medical consensus that vaccines do not have a role in causing Autism, many parents are refusing them for their children. Some believe that there is a conspiracy of one sort or another by the pharmaceutical industry.

The problem with this view, aside from the possible medical consequences of being unvaccinated, is that no studies in peer-reviewed journals, including those performed by researchers without a connection to the pharmaceutical industry, report a causal relationship. Sadly, the anti-vaccination issue has turned into a popular social movement, which makes it difficult to challenge.

Proclamation of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

April 25, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on April 25, 2009]

In support of United Nations values of civil and other human rights, The League to Fight Neurelitism, a nonpartisan and nonsectarian public sociology and advocacy journalism project, officially proclaims the twenty-first day of May, 2009, and each subsequent twenty-first day of May, as World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. This annual commemoration, authorized by a 2003 resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, honors the 2002 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity from UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

The League to Fight Neurelitism addressed the subject of Autistic culture, comparing it with Deaf culture, in a previous communication. Interested readers may wish to pursue our Position Statement on Autistic Culture. As properly defined in a sociological context, culture is a way of life or a toolkit for addressing life’s challenges. Given the ubiquitousness of the Internet, cultures are not always contained within a single geographical space.

On this day of commemoration, the League would encourage Autists to reflect on Autistic culture from a multidimensional and relational standpoint. For instance:

  1. What, at present, are some of the distinguishing features of Autistic culture?
  2. Accounting for the diversity of perspectives among Autists, even stark disagreements on certain issues, how could cultural pluralism be turned to an advantage?
  3. Is it possible for Autists holding to very different views to work together on certain issues?
  4. If so, what might those issues be?
  5. How can Autists reach out even further to individuals and groups with other disabilities?
  6. Finally, what would be the objectives of these contacts?

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism


Originally published to:

Position Statement on Autistic Culture

April 20, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on April 20, 2009]

The public sociology and advocacy journalism project, The League to Fight Neurelitism, supports the application of United Nations values concerning human rights and social justice to all Autistics.

Following recent discussions on an Autism-focused email list, the League has crafted a position on the subject of Autistic culture. One of the most obvious results of this process will be the capitalization, in this and in all subsequent documents, of the words Autism, Autistic, and Autist. The latter term, the noun Autist, will be utilized, interchangeably with Autistic, when referring to one or more Autistic individuals. For instance, just as one is a Gambian, one is, in the first person, an Autist or Autistic. One does not have Gambia or Autism.

This approach to capitalization, which is already being practiced by some Autists, has long been in use within the Deaf community. As explained on the Alternative Solutions Center blog:

Far from viewing “Deaf” as a way of excluding people, we see the term as an inclusive one. To us, “Deaf” refers to any people who happen to be Deaf. It has nothing to do with having Deaf or hearing parents, or using ASL, SEE, spoken English, cued speech, or any other communication modality. Neither does it matter if one was mainstreamed, educated at a Deaf school, or homeschooled. Degree of hearing loss, being Deaf from birth or being late-Deafened, using a hearing aid or a cochlear implant – none of these, in our minds, precludes anyone from being Deaf.

Capitalizing Deaf parallels capitalizing African American, Jewish, Hispanic, and so on, with each of these capitalized designations referring to a group of people with their own culture and physical characteristics (i.e., skin color, bloodline, hearing status). All of these terms are inclusive. Some Jewish people may be observant Orthodox Jews, centering their lives around their religion, while others may simply identify as Jewish through their family lineage and never set foot in a temple. Some Jewish people speak Hebrew, while others don’t.

Similarly, capitalizing Autism and its forms emphasizes the culture of Autistics. While the Autistic community is certainly heterogeneous, or diverse, in its viewpoints on a host of issues, few cultures, even those which have functioned under extraordinarily rigid, authoritarian, or totalitarian political systems, have ever achieved a true consensus or unanimity. For this reason, a culture may better be appreciated, not as a system of uniform or mechanical behaviors, but as a way of life or as a symbolic toolkit for resolving problems and addressing existential challenges.

Furthermore, cultures do not arise without precedent. Their development, whether systematic or haphazard, occurs within historical frameworks of interaction and adaptation. Social groupings are, as sociologist Anthony Giddens has observed, ongoing accomplishments. That is to say, as willful agents, we need not be passive objects of grand cultural processes. Instead, we can, individually or collectively, express our voices concerning the maintenance, modification, or deconstruction of contemporary cultures. We can also become actively engaged in building new and emancipatory ones grounded on human rights.

A culture, in its nonmaterial aspects, incorporates a population’s language, values, and norms. With respect to the first of these, language, cultures and subcultures are defined, in part, by a characteristic semantics or lexicon. A stranger on an Autistic discussion forum might have difficulty following most conversations. Moreover, opposition to curing Autism is, perhaps, the most ubiquitous value of the self-advocacy Autistic community. In establishing territoriality and appropriate social norms or rules of conduct, this value serves to differentiate self-advocates from many largely parent-dominated groups.

Cultures and subcultures move through stages. Given that Autistic online culture remains in its early phases of development, it would be patently unfair to compare its nascence with online culture as a whole. Similarly, it would be unjust to compare online culture with the cultures of Western industrialized countries. In other words, culture is not an object which a population “either has or does not have.” It is, as a lifeworld, defined by its process – the lived-in experiences of a community.

Concluding on a personal note, when I first connected with other Autistics online, I had to learn the significances of various terms: neurotypical (NT), aspie, curebie, nonspeaking autistics (and not “nonverbal”), and so forth. I also had to study the values (and value debates) and norms in the online Autistic community. I have been involved with computers for many years and ran a BBS (dialup bulletin board service) on a dedicated line in pre-Internet days. Even though I watched virtual culture, in general, develop, becoming a part of online Autistic culture required me to discover a new vocabulary, value system, and normative framework.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism


Originally published to:

Please Sign this Petition

April 18, 2009

The following letter comes from Ari Ne’eman, the president of The Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and is posted here by permission. I would encourage all readers to sign the petition.

I’m writing to ask you to sign our petition, calling on Dr. Tony Attwood and Dr. Isabelle Hénault, two respected experts in the world of Autism, to disassociate themselves from hate groups promoting stereotypes and libels that seek to encourage discrimination against Autistic people in family law and relationships. We in the disability community have long suffered from many forms of discrimination, stereotyping and discrimination. Historically, one of the most pervasive forms of this type of discrimination has come from those who use stereotypes and psuedo-science to try and deprive us of one of the most common ways of expressing membership in the human community – the right to have a family, to marry and to raise children on an equal basis with any other citizen. The eugenics movement is one of the most well known examples of this dangerous and unethical means of discriminating against people with disabilities, as is the related idea that disabled people are inherently unfit as spouses or parents. In the name of these kinds of stereotypes, people with disabilities have been deprived of parental rights and discriminated against in divorce and child custody cases for generations. In the Autistic community, we face opponents who seek to propogate these same forms of hatred, often claiming to do so either for our own good or wrapped in the guise of the same types of false science that justified the involuntary sterilization of hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide who were deemed unfit to raise children.

For the last decade, groups like Families of Adults Afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome (FAAAS) have been promoting the idea that prolonged family contact with Autistic adults in romantic or family relationships is harmful to “normal” people. Amongst other methods, they have done this by promoting “Cassandra Affective Deprivation Disorder,” a term invented by British psychologist Maxine Aston. Cassandra Affective Deprivation Disorder, a condition developed by Aston and which serves as the basis for much of her marketing and income, is claimed by Aston to be a depressive disorder caused by romantic involvement with an Autistic person. CADD is based entirely upon pseudoscience, personal grudges, and stereotypes rather than any form of accurate research or evidence. CADD has never been recognised by any psychological association and is not supported by any peer-reviewed scientific research. Aston and others involved with such groups have purported to diagnose clients with CADD, despite having no legitimate authority for doing so. In CADD support groups, clients are encouraged to “vent” about the failures of their partners and to characterise Autistics in general as unsuitable for family life.

Attwood and Hénault have, despite respected professional activities and scholarships in other contexts, consistently appeared and promoted Cassandra-related events and organizations. Over the past decade, both Attwood and Hénault have been regular presenters at events sponsored by FAAAS, which actively promotes the Cassandra concept. Attwood and Hénault are closely associated with FAAAS through their membership in the FAAAS Professional Advisory Panel. The founder of FAAAS, Karen Rodman, has publicly described Autistics as randomly violent and has suggested that Autistic children ought to be excluded from public schools. Through its activities, FAAAS has sought to influence social workers and family law courts to make biased decisions removing custody of children from Autistic parents and discriminating against Autistic adults in other family law contexts, as detailed in a paper by FAAAS member Sheila Jennings Linehan, who also has levied this libel against other neurological disability groups. Several articles by ASPIA, a group in Australia with the same goals and objectives as FAAAS, founder Carol Grigg appear prominently on the FAAAS website, and the content of Grigg’s articles clearly shows that she also promotes the false accusation that autistic people and others with disabilities are likely to abuse their family members. She explicitly makes this claim in an article entitled Asperger’s Syndrome in Adults: Potential for Abuse?

Though Autistic adults now face discrimination in family law settings, all credible research on the topic states that Autistic people are far more vulnerable to being abused than the general population and have no natural predisposition towards abusive behaviour. By promoting a libel that places Autistic people at a disadvantage in family law contexts, FAAAS, ASPIA and other promoters of CADD have decreased opportunities for Autistic people to seek protection against abuse. Due to the presumption of fault promoted by these groups, Autistic adults are at risk of being discriminated against if they attempt to terminate abusive marriages and other relationships. Furthermore, these libels threaten the rights of Autistic people and all people with disabilities to fully participate in society by marrying, having children and enjoying the right to be judged on the basis of ones actions not by ones medical diagnosis.

We’re asking you, regardless of your background or interest in Autism or cross-disability issues, to join us in signing this petition to help secure the rights of all people to be treated equally under the law. Our petition can be found at: and if you are interested in e-mailing directly is the e-mail address for Dr. Attwood and is the e-mail address for Dr. Hénault. Thank you for your support. Together, we can mobilize our community and stop discrimination wherever it rears its ugly head.

As always, Nothing About Us, Without Us!

Ari Ne’eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC  20036

Position Statement on Nonviolent and Passive Resistance

April 15, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on April 15, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism, a public sociology and an advocacy journalism project, engages in activism to support the direct application of United Nations values on human rights and social justice to all Autistics.

The terms, nonviolent resistance, passive resistance, and civil disobedience are often treated as relatively synonymous. Strictly speaking, however, they are defined differently. In this brief paper, The League to Fight Neurelitism will set forth what it considers to be the distinctions between these concepts. It will then suggest possible strategies for Autistic praxis (activism grounded in reflection) which do not involve breaking the laws within many modern societies.

Passive resistance is essentially synonymous with a broad usage of pacifism. Johan Galtung (1965) defined the former term as stabilization “at a very low level of interaction” and as “noncooperation.” Passive resistors are individuals who decide not to participate in an activity or who refuse to follow a directive.

Nonviolent resistance, which may also be termed nonviolent revolution, takes this process a step further by actually engaging in positive actions and protests. Such revolutionary resistance or praxis may consist of nothing more elaborate than an activist use of music, theatre, poetry, and other creative arts. It can also include blogging and direct acts of civil disobedience, such as the campus sit-ins of the 1960s (later mirrored by some protesters at abortion clinics), strikes, Rosa Parks’ resusal to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger, and the burning of draft cards.

Consequently, passive resistance and nonviolent resistance may be understood as two overarching categories for a variety of strategies and tactics. These twin rubrics were delineated by no less a person than Mahatma Gandhi, the great advocate of nonviolent resistance, who stated, “Passive resistance, unlike nonviolence, has no power to change men’s hearts.” Although we may not share Gandhi’s evident distaste for passive resistance, his negative evaluation of it supports our claim regarding the distinction between these approaches.

Nevertheless, in this position statement, we will suggest a pragmatic relevance for nonviolent resistance, not of passive resistance. We feel as though an application of the former construct is more practical in addition to being consistent with dominant modes of activism which are currently employed within the online Autistic community.

Pointedly, many Autistics are currently participating in nonviolent resistance without labeling it as such. The terms nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience have become so interconnected in popular discourse that a significant proportion of people might not even realize that civil disobedience is only a single subset of nonviolent resistance. By way of illustration, here is a brief listing of actions which, in addition to civil disobedience, would qualify as nonviolent resistance:

  1. writing protest letters
  2. encouraging boycotts
  3. online consciousness-raising (conscientization)
  4. waging information wars against “curebie” groups
  5. expressing oneself through blogging and use of the creative arts

To reiterate, The League to Fight Neurelitism strongly encourages a participation in lawful nonviolent resistance or revolution. We do not promote civil disobedience and other illegal activities.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism

Galtung, Johan. “On the Meaning of Nonviolence” Journal of Peace Research. 1965 (2:228). Retrieved April 15, 2009. (


Originally published to:

The Institute for Emancipatory Constructionism

April 14, 2009

I have spent the last few days revising the website which contains the general framework I use as a sociologist and in my autistic advocacy. After some reflection, I concluded that the site’s previous name, The Structurization Institute and the associated structurization theory, did not adequately convey my approach to the majority of visitors. However, the twin references I have made in the new title, The Institute for Emancipatory Constructionism, will be immediately evident to most sociologists and, no doubt, to many academics in related fields and to a variety of informed readers in general.

Let me break it down: First, the term, emancipatory was initially used by Max Horkheimer, one of the members in the Frankfurt school (a group of German social scientists), to describe an approach to the social sciences, called critical theory, which advocated that, in addition to engaging in research, social scientists examine approaches to liberation. These social scientists were substantially Marxian in their orientation, but they freely combined Marxist concepts with those from a variety of other sources, particularly Freudian psychoanalysis. These days, critical theory is used for a variety of perspectives, sometimes unrelated to the Frankfurt school, which include a significant focus on emancipation.

Second, constructionism, short for social constructionism, is a sociological approach which began, largely, with the 1966 book, written by by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality. One of the basic concepts within social constructionism is that knowledge, truth, values, groups, cultures, etc. are all socially relative. They have no reality which is independent from the social contexts in which they orignated.

Finally, to combine emancipation with construction: The idea of social construction, which may seem innocent at first, is actually extraordinarily radical. One of the ways in which political leaders maintain their power is by convincing their publics to accept the exclusive legitimacy of their truth claims, such as former American president George W. Bush’s statements about the war on terror. Well, what if those claims were only language games and linguistic constructions with no objective reality? Then people could organize, reject the constructions of power elites, and formulate entirely different, even emancipatory, constructions.

Position Statement on the Matrix of Domination

April 11, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on April 11, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism, a public sociology and an advocacy journalism project, promotes the consistent application of United Nations values on human rights and social justice to all autistics.

Patricia Hill Collins is the first centenary (2009) president of the American Sociological Association and the first African American woman to occupy that distinguished office. As Professor of Sociology at Johnson County Community College, I have used her reader, jointly edited with Margaret L. Anderson, for sixteen years. Collins’ concept of a matrix of domination or intersectionality, discussed in the introduction to the reader, is elaborated upon below:

Placing African-American women and other excluded groups in the center of analysis opens up possibilities for a both/and conceptual stance, one in which all groups possess varying amounts of penalty and privilege in one historically created system. In this system, for example, white women are penalized by their gender but privileged by their race. Depending on the context, an individual may be an oppressor, a member of an oppressed group, or simultaneously oppressor and oppressed….

Although most individuals have little difficulty identifying their own victimization within some major system of oppression–whether it be by race, social class, religion, physical ability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age or gender–they typically fail to see how their thoughts and actions uphold someone else’s subordination. In essence, each group identifies the oppression with which it feels most comfortable as being fundamental and classifies all others as being of lesser importance. Oppression is filled with such contradictions because these approaches fail to recognize that a matrix of domination contains few pure victims or oppressors. Each individual derives varying amounts of penalty and privilege from the multiple systems of oppression which frame everyone’s lives.

According to Collins’ relational model, in approaching the matrix of domination, with its intersecting paths of oppressing and oppressed statuses, individuals should utilize a process she terms, shifting the center of one’s thinking. Here, the observer would determine the dominated or oppressed statuses in any given situation and attempt to view it from the point of view of the oppressed. Doing so would result, not only in an understanding of oppressed statuses, but of oppressor statuses, as well.

Collins’ critical theoretical framework presents a thoroughly sociological perspective on oppression. By emphasizing statuses or positions, rather than individuals, she allows for the possibility that a person acting as an oppressor in one situation might hold an oppressed status in another. One might, hypothetically, imagine certain women, sexually harrassed in their workplace, who then return home and oppose the construction of a minority housing project in their neighborhood.

Shifting the center is not exactly the same as sociologist Max Weber’s concept of Verstehen (literally, German for understanding). In Verstehen, the researcher attempts to examine a given social setting through the eyes of those she is studying. In so doing, the observer allegedly brackets, or sets aside, her own subjectivity from the process of observation.

In shifting the center, one endeavors to view a context of experience through the eyes of those who occupy oppressed statuses. Whether one belongs to that status oneself is irrelevant to the process. Indeed, it is not uncommon for oppressed persons to accept the legitimacy of a worldview which has been constructed for them by their oppressors. This problematic would, from a Marxian standpoint, be designated as a false consciousness.

Collins’ relational model, with its concepts of a matrix of domination and shifting the center of one’s thinking, offers us a useful perspective for autistics involved in activist work. It can encourage a person to reflect on the manners in which each one of us may play the roles of an oppressed person and an oppressor in a diversity of social contexts. After becoming conscious of this matrix of domination, the individual can develop mutually beneficial relationships with persons who, in other situations, experience oppression themselves.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism


Originally published to:

Position Statement on Psycho Donuts

April 7, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on April 7, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism, as a public sociology and an advocacy journalism project, actively promotes a consistent application of United Nations values on human rights and social justice to all persons on the autism spectrum.

The California-based company, Psycho Donuts, provides us with another unfortunate example of corporate insensitivity toward the psychologically and neurologically different. On the restaurant’s website is featured a padded cell, and two donut varieties are named Bipolar and Psycho.

The League to Fight Neurelitism recognizes that the owner or owners of the company may not have intended to offend entire segments of the U.S. population. Indeed, they most likely consider their business model to be merely an entertaining approach to selling their product.

Nonetheless, the League to Fight Neurelitism, working to promote the rights of the neuordiverse, sees this issue differently. Given that, to us, the company’s name and website are offensive and discriminatory, we politely, but firmly, encourage the company to reconsider its marketing strategy.

A large U.S. restaurant chain, Sambo’s, became controversial, during the Civil Rights Movement, due to its name. Although the African American pejorative was unrelated to the selection of the name, eventually, all but one restaurant closed down. Why, now in the twenty-first century, is it acceptable to open one which mocks the psychologically and neurologically different?

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism


First published to:

Position Statement on Reification

April 1, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on April 1, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism, as a public sociology and an advocacy journalism project, actively promotes the application of United Nations values on human rights and social justice to all persons on the autism spectrum.

Simply stated, reification, a common academic term, points to the treatment of abstract categories as real, concrete particulars or essences. The view that these supposed essences can be perceived, comprehended, and discussed is called essentialism. Both concepts are frequently referenced by persons subscribing to one or more systems of metaphysics or speculative philosophy, such as Neoplatonism.

Tendencies toward reification and essentialism can be observed in some of the online discourse concerning the autism spectrum, particularly when the autistic and neurotypical (neurologically typical) constructs are juxtaposed and treated as essentially distinct. Significantly, perhaps, this approach resembles an earlier one taken by cultural feminists who have contended that women and men possess certain essential, innate differences.

Although an essentialistic approach to human neurology, as to gender, lacks nuance and sophistication, it might, nonetheless, be helpful in developing autistic class consciousness. Claims that autistics, especially Asperger’s autistics, represent a prototype for an emerging new species, while superficially silly and easy to dismiss, can be similarly regarded.

Furthermore, anger at oppression, even if manifested in assertions of essentialism, is, in light of a considerable alienation, anomie, and angst which are experienced frequently by autistics, understandable, and it could, over the long run, encourage an activist praxis of self-advocacy. The League to Fight Neurelitism expresses the hope that, moving forwards, feelings of rage may be superseded by a mutual tolerance, which, with the development of third-wave feminism, appears to have taken hold in certain sectors of the women’s movement.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism


First published to:

Official Proclamation of World Autism Awareness Day and National Autism Awareness Month

March 29, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on March 29, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism is a public sociology and an advocacy journalism project. We actively promote the application of United Nations values on human rights and social justice for all members of the autistic community.

In the United States, April of each year has been designated as National Autism Awareness Month; and on November 1, 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed April 2, 2008, as the first annual World Autism Awareness Day. A United Nations press release, dated April 2, 2008, announced:

“On this day, the United Nations reaffirms its commitment to the rights and well-being of people with disabilities — a commitment rooted in our fundamental principle of universal human rights for all,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement marking the day. “It is especially fitting that this inaugural Day falls in 2008 — the year in which we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration for Human Rights and expect to see the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the General Assembly in 2006.”

The League to Fight Neurelitism joins in solidarity with the United Nations, the United States government, various public and private organizations, and many persons of integrity in proclaiming World Autism Awareness Day and National Autism Awareness Month. We hope that this time period, and any commemorations associated with it, will promote both reflection and unified action on improved accommodations and access for autistic individuals. Members of the autistic self-advocacy subculture, in common with minority activists in numerous other communities, wish to be respected and honored in their differences, not changed to suit the values of the majority.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism


Originally published to:

Autistic Pride and Ownership

March 21, 2009

I just added the following two paragraphs to my narrative. Normally, I would not publish a new addition to this blog, but I felt that the statement was, at least to me, especially significant.

These days, I will refer to myself, conversationally, as an autistic or, in those instances where more precision may be required, either as an Asperger’s autistic or, informally, as an aspie autistic. I know of other autistics, particularly other autistic activists, who also follow this basic convention. There has been a history of oppressed peoples taking ownership over designations which had been historically associated with socially stigmatized statuses. On its most basic level, owning a word deprives the bigot of a portion of her power to hurt the targeted individual.

For instance, Quaker was at first a term of derision for members of the Religious Society of Friends, while Shaker was a taunting appellation for members of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. Even the initial use of the word, Christian, was, in the ancient Roman Empire, gibelike. In recent years, the pejorative fat has been embraced by the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. Some lesbians now openly speak of themselves as being dykes, and many lesbians and gay men routinely refer to themselves as queer. (There is even a queer theory in the humanities and social sciences.)

One may argue for a substantive, or at least mitigatory, value in calling oneself an Asperger’s autistic when others have tried to flee from the autistic label. As I have grown ever more self-conscious in the biographical social alienation of my autistic self, ownership has, to me, become a statement, an affirmation, of autistic pride, a sentiment I would, nonetheless, immediately distinguish from a platitudinous arrogance or banal superiority. As I am proud to be an autistic, I am, within the compasses of my other selves, proud of being a sociologist, a journalist, a ventriloquist, and so forth.

Intelligent Kindness

March 19, 2009

I just posted this message on John Tesh’s Intelligent Kindness Network:

In my personal online narrative, I explore my life journey from when, as a child in the 1960s, I was diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia, placed on psychotropic medications, and, at 11-years old, given electroconvulsive therapy (shock treatments), to when, in 2007, I was diagnosed as an Asperger’s autistic. Rather than recount these events in this posting, I invite you to read the narrative or, if not, the considerably shorter, published version (PDF). In any event, I am not alone. Most Asperger’s autistics of around my age (53), those who were unfortunate enough to go through the psychiatric establishment of those years, underwent similar experiences.

While I had, off and on, consulted various psychologists and other counselors regarding my ongoing problems in establishing personal relationships, I had not seen a psychiatrist, per se, since I was a freshman in high school. That changed when, after my otherwise pleasant home experienced a cockroach infestation, I developed chronic insomnia, and my primary physician suggested I see a psychiatrist. This psychiatrist is the one who diagnosed me as an Asperger’s autistic. As I have told him many times, I am extraordinarily grateful to him. My life has, since then, taken a very different turn.

Position Statement on Standpoint Epistemologies

March 10, 2009
For Immediate Release [first published on March 10, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism, as a public sociology and an advocacy journalism project, actively promotes the conscientious application of United Nations values on human rights and social justice to each and every autistic individual.

The concept of standpoint epistemologies, or ways of knowing from particular perspectives (situated knowledge), was developed by feminist intellectuals as a means of exploring the relative impacts of social constructions of gender on the production of knowledge. Most current feminist approaches to this subject attempt to avoid reification, the attribution of an objective existence to abstract concepts, by not essentializing gender categories or, in other words, by not treating them as real or fixed entities.

A feminist standpoint epistemology, when consciously applied to social action, becomes feminist praxis; which is to say that a feminist standpoint epistemology makes such praxis possible. The Greek word praxis, from which we obtain the more commonplace, practice, is a standard academic term for the concrete utilization of knowledge, theory, or philosophy. It expresses the idea of the scholar-practitioner, the value-laden scholar as distinguished from the supposedly value-free one.

Emi Koyama, an activist concerned with intersexuality and other issues, directs the Intersex Initiative. On her personal website, in responding to the question, “How can Emi claim to be able to speak about so many different issues?,” she eloquently explains:

For one thing, Emi happens to have been impacted by each of these issues personally, and participated in many different activisms. But that’s not the complete answer: the full answer is that Emi believes that one’s activist orientation should not be about which issues she or he wants to tackle, but what approach she or he would take to any social issues. For this reason, Emi is resisting being pigeonholed into being an “intersex activist,” for example.

In like manner, The League to Fight Neurelitism believes that the epistemic standpoint one takes to an anti-neurelitist autistic activism, or praxis, is primary. To that end, various epistemic standpoints are possible, including the orientation of a reflexive sociology, the posture of a non-violent resistor, the peace testimony of a Quaker, the stance of a advocacy journalist, an existential position, the ethical Jewish philosophy of tikkun olam (repairing the world), an Islamic jihad bil yad (struggle by the hand) to fight economic and social injustices, the personal construct psychology perspective within psychological constructivism, a theistic viewpoint as liberation theology, the outlook of an engaged Buddhism, etc.

To illustrate, the League director has adopted, within the context of the public sociology movement, what is termed new critical theory (also known as postmodern critical theory and resembling, but not identical to, critical postmodernism and post-Marxism). This perspective focuses, in part, on analyzing the relations between social texts or narratives, namely, the stories used to legitimize truth claims, and on considering the manners in which relatively high-status individuals impose those narratives, through the exercise of their power and dominance, on one or more publics.

An example of new critical theory would be the construction of the war on terror, in the post-9/11 period, and the associations made between rejecting “it” and being “with the terrorists.” Similarly, neurelitist accounts, including those which emphasize curing autistics rather than supporting them, can be examined, critiqued, and deconstructed. The director has also applied this perspective, from a spiritual standpoint, within his ASMÁ Learning Communities™ and, sociologically, within his Institute for Emancipatory Constructionism™.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism


Published to

Published Article

March 5, 2009

My article, Fighting Neurelitism, has just been published in Many Voices – One Community: Journal of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Hard copies are available at Johnson County Community College. However, the entire journal, and individual articles (including my own), can be downloaded from this page (in PDF format).

A Boycott

March 3, 2009

I am not the author of the following posting. However, I recommend reading it and participating in the boycott. (Distribution of this message was requested by the writer.)

I’m writing to inform you all of a boycott of the Lindt chocolate company. As you can see, I’ve also cc’d the Lindt customer service email ( and I’d advise you all to do the same when forwarding this information, in order to send a message to Lindt.

As some of you may be aware, Lindt is partnering with Autism Speaks this year, an
organisation dedicated to eliminating autism – which, unsurprisingly, is a goal that the autistic community is very much against. For those of you that don’t know much about them, here’s a few pointers:

  • Autism Speaks relies on pity propaganda and negative stereotyping to achieve their goals. In one famous example, the vice-president of Autism Speaks talks about wanting to drive herself and her daughter off a bridge, and only refraining from doing so because of her ‘normal’ daughter at home. The negative stereotyping produced by this devaluation of autistic lives creates barriers to employment and services (as these negative stereotypes will lead companies to underestimate the capabilities of autistic people), and can lead to many other forms of bullying and discrimination.
  • The money raised by Autism Speaks goes towards eliminating autism, rather than helping autistic people. Autism is a deeply ingrained part of autistic people, and the two cannot be meaningfully separated without altering the person – as such, the elimination of autism is not a goal supported by the majority of the autistic community. In addition, their research into pre-natal testing for autism is considered by many autistic people to be a form of eugenics.
  • For more information, take a look at

I’d therefore like to recommend a boycott of all Lindt products for the duration of this campaign – from now until the 15th of April.

As stated at the top of this email, if you’re forwarding this on, please also cc the
Lindt customer service email ( The more emails they receive, the less likely they are to support this unethical organisation again next year.

Public Sociology

March 1, 2009

This posting is, ultimately, a plea for more autistics to enter into the field of public sociology. To the best of my knowledge, I am presently the only autistic activist/self-advocate involved in the field. I also maintain the website.

Although I am not aware of any entirely online, or distance learning, public sociology programs and courses, there are some on-campus ones. Examples include the University of California at Berkeley, American University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ithaca College, the University of San Diego, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Birmingham City University, the University of Minnesota (where it is called civic sociology), Northeastern Illinois University (also civic sociology), and North Carolina State University (engaged sociology).

The American Sociological Association’s Public Sociology website offers some examples of public sociology practices. Additional information can be obtained at my site and by visiting its links sections.

The following is a revision of a message I posted, earlier today, on the subject of public sociology to an email list:

I think that there are really two different public sociologies. First, there was, of course, twentieth-century public sociology, as the term was coined by Herbert Gans in his ASA address (PDF). Second, there is twenty-first-century public sociology, as the term was redefined by Michael Burawoy in his ASA address (PDF).

Gans’ public sociology would be reflected in Contexts magazine. Burawoy’s public sociology is seen in Sociologists without Borders.

From a Discussion on Rewriting the U.S. Constitution

February 22, 2009

It seems to me that a rewritten U.S. Constitution would need to require as much self-determination as possible. Even for individuals with intellectual disabilities (i.e., mental retardation), there should, to the maximum degree possible, be a requirement that they should provide informed consent for all treatments provided to them.

In the past (and even now to an extent), non-speaking autistics were assumed to be “mentally retarded.” We now know that this is not the case in a large many cases. I can only imagine the pain of being an intelligent person, even a genius, but unable to speak and being treated like a person with very low mental ability.

Rewriting the U.S. Constitution

February 20, 2009

The following was my preliminary posting to a sociological forum working on rewriting the constitution (a new “constitutional convention”). One section of that forum is devoted to persons with disabilities.

Re-authoring the U.S. Constitution is a fascinating project. Thomas Jefferson was the among those who proposed that the U.S. Constitution should be rewritten every couple of decades.

Although certain persons, particularly on the religious right, have reified and sacralized the Constitution, their triumphalism is, relatively speaking, a recent development. Therefore, if this project is radical, its radicalism is, at least partially, etymological, i.e., returning to the root (radix).

As an autistic fellow, I have a special interest in the subject of vulnerable groups. Some of the data I have seen provide the U.S. unemployment rate of individuals on the autism spectrum at around 80%.

In meeting other autistics, both as founding director of The League to Fight Neurelitism and as a board member of the Autism Society of the Heartland (a chapter of the Autism Society of America), a substantial number of them are among the working poor or the underclass.

Disability, from the perspective of the social model of disability, is a relative construction. If there were no accommodations made for left-handed persons (less the case now than in the recent past), they could be called disabled. Similarly, if deaf and autistic persons were fully accommodated, had full access to economic and political life chances, the disability label would not apply to them. In a refashioned Constitution, full accommodations should be available to all residents (not just to citizens) of the U.S.

Position Statement Regarding an Offensive Cartoon

February 18, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on February 18, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism is a public sociology and an advocacy journalism project. We actively promote the application of United Nations values on human rights and social justice to all autistics.

A cartoon which appeared in the February 17, 2009, issue of the New York Post, a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp (which also owns Fox News Channel and other media properties), pictured the shooting of a chimpanzee by police officers. It was accompanied with the words, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

The contexts of the cartoon were the mauling of a woman by her friend’s pet chimpanzee, in Stamford, Connecticut, and the passage of an economic stimulus package by the United States Congress. Critics, including the Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, have argued that, since this package had been vigorously promoted by President Barak Obama, the chimpanzee pictured in the cartoon was evidently a reference to him, and the Post should make a public apology.

Ostensibly, only the cartoonist, Sean Delonas, and his confidants in this situation (if any) know whether the chimp was intended to depict President Obama. Nonetheless, there is a long, unfortunate narrative, in the United States, of equating African Americans with chimpanzees and monkeys. In light of the justifiable sensitivity resulting from this history, and in consideration of the threats by some white supremacist groups to assassinate the president, the editors of the Post, in our view, should have exercised better judgment and refused to publish the cartoon.

Although The League to Fight Neurelitism is a project concerned with autistics, we believe in being consistent. It is our stance that all forms of prejudice, bigotry, and violations of civil and other human rights should be unreservedly censured. We, therefore, stand proudly with Rev. Sharpton, a man whom we deeply admire, in unequivocally denouncing this cartoon and demanding that the New York Post promptly offer an apology.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism

Published to


A Controversial Posting

February 15, 2009

As I said earlier this evening on my Twitter feed (to Facebook, MySpace, WordPress, Friendster, Orkut, etc.), I was going to make a controversial blog entry. I suppose it is controversial for at least two reasons: First, I am connecting my autistic self with my religious beliefs. Second, although I am not suggesting that I have been cured of autism, it may, at least superficially, appear as though I am doing so. I am also, to get the technicalities out of the way, making this posting in an individual capacity, not as the director of The League to Fight Neurelitism.

To be clear at the outset, I consider autism to be my neurological type. Consequently, whatever changes have been made to my personality over my nearly 53 years, my neurology is, and presumably always will be, autistic. At this point in my life, I derive enormous satisfaction from my autism, and the mindset and skill sets associated with it, and would not accept some hypothetical cure even were it offered to me. To do otherwise would. from my standpoint, amount to a rejection of my own character.

That stated, I attribute my success, and my accommodations to a neurotypical society, largely to my religious convictions and, more specifically, to my membership in the Bahá’í Faith. Growing up as a child, I had virtually no empathy for, or understanding of, others. That I lived in my own world was partially a choice but mostly a product of lacking the most basic competencies to relate to others.

Through my involvement in the Bahá’í Faith, a religion I embraced at 14-years old, I gradually developed a love for God and for others. It was in the cultivation of these intense interpersonal sentiments, a process which has steadily increased to the present day, that I began to develop empathy. My opening up to others and their lifeworlds made it possible for me to complete four academic degrees, including a Ph.D., to become a college professor, a college administrator (in the past), and a previous president of the Kansas Sociological Society. God met me where I was, as an autistic person. From that place, He then gently drew me to Himself.

Position Statement on Vaccines

February 12, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on February 12, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism is a public sociology and an advocacy journalism project. Our official policy is to actively promote the application of United Nations values on human rights and social justice to all autistics.

Some hypotheses have posited a causal relationship between a mercury-based compound called thimerosal (also known as thiomersal or Merthiolate®) in certain vaccinations (such as the MMR vaccine for the measles, the mumps, and rubella) and the autism spectrum. While these predictions have been thoroughly rejected, as unsupported, by mainstream researchers, a community of true believers, often bolstered by conspiracy theories, has persisted.

The last few days have witnessed two significant developments in this area. First, evidence has surfaced, according to the Sunday Times of London, that Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s research, which first proposed the connection between thimerosal and autism, was allegedly fabricated. Second, the Omnibus Autism Proceedings before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., dismissed complaints and requests for monetary damages, writing, “The evidence does not support the general proposition that thimerosal-containing vaccines can damage infants’ immune systems.”

It is the position of The League to Fight Neurelitism that, rather than expending one’s limited energies upon demonstrated medical quackery and morbid conspiracy theories, a considerably more worthwhile avenue of attention is the pursuit of global human rights and social justice for autistics. At such a time when legitimate scientists uncover the probable causes for autism, the League hopes that this data will be systematically applied to ameliorate the life chances of autistics, not to wipe us out.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,

The League to Fight Neurelitism

Published to:


Position Statement on the Autism Society of America

February 7, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on February 7, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism is a public sociology and an advocacy journalism project. We actively promote the application of United Nations values on human rights and social justice to all autistics.

As the League’s founding director, I serve on the board of the Heartland Chapter of the Autism Society of America (ASA). In distinction to some other well-known autism organizations, the activities of the ASA are not directed at finding a cure for autism. Instead, their motto is, improving the lives of all affected by autism.

Individual members of the association are supported in their selection of whatever treatments they find beneficial. As a matter of policy, the ASA does not state its preferences for some therapies over others. Similarly, it takes no position, pro or con, on the issue of cures. Although members of the board are cognizant of my negative stance on the cure movement, I am unaware of the perspectives of other board members on this issue. What’s more, no one has ever attempted to sway me.

The Autism Society of America represents a stellar example of how autistic self-advocates and parent advocates, despite possible underlying differences in perspective, can collaborate to assist autistics, parents, and others who work with them. This wonderful organization is accomplishing a great deal of good for all concerned.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism


Published to

Position Statement on the Cassandra Syndrome

February 3, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on February 2, 2009]

The public sociology advocacy project, The League to Fight Neurelitism, supports the application of United Nations values concerning human rights and social justice to all autistics. We also recognize that, in the absence of adequate societal enablements, the stresses involved in interacting with some adults on the autism spectrum can, at times, become overwhelming.

On a personal note, I am myself a diagnosed Asperger’s autistic, as was my father. After I received, like many other Asperger’s autistics of my generation (baby-boomers), a diagnosis of childhood schizophrenia, I was rediagnosed with Asperger’s autism in April, 2007. Subsequently, through my own efforts, my father was diagnosed as an Asperger’s autistic in January, 2008, which, as it turned out, was only eleven months before he died.

As a child, my father was, in his engagements with me, both physically and emotionally abusive. Indeed, his destructive behavior would, today, likely result in an incarceration. The overriding factor, I believe, was our mutual social ineptitude. Our personalities sharply diverged, and neither one of us quite knew how to relate to the other. Given sufficient supports, and correct diagnoses, these problems might have been averted or, at least, ameliorated. Regrettably, the Asperger’s autism category was not formally recognized by the American Psychiatric Association until 1994.

A term which has been suggested for the problems confronting the family of an autistic adult is the Cassandra syndrome. The designation is intended to highlight the intrafamilial complications arising from the alleged failure of some Asperger’s autistics to respond to others in an emotionally affirming fashion and to exhibit common sense in their social encounters. These family members, it is claimed, may, as a result, feel rejected by the autistic individual and experience a degree of lonliness.

The League to Fight Neurelitism does not deny that such difficulties may be present in many families, and we certainly have no desire to minimize the pain which some persons experience. Many autistics have experienced considerable bullying throughout their lives and are, perhaps, more accustomed to emotional hardship than the majority of individuals. On the other hand, we feel that to construct these issues in terms of a psychological syndrome is counterproductive.

For one thing, the Cassandra syndrome is not a recognized diagnostic category. It, therefore, joins a long list of popular psychological labels, including Peter Pan syndrome, kundalini syndrome, and Cinderella syndrome. For another, rather than attempting to remediate the socially disabling conditions confronting the autistic, and to simultaneously support each family member, the Cassandra syndrome futher marginalizes the autistic as the victimizer.

Furthermore, The League to Fight Neurelitism recommends posing and responding to a sequence of relevant and, hopefully, fertile questions. One of these could approximate, “How might all family members contribute to the enablement and accommodation of the autistic individual?” A more encompassing inquiry, intentionally phrased not to single out the autistic person, can be, “How should the activities and responsibilities of the family be readjusted to favor the unique skill sets of each member?”

Finally, the League believes that tolerance, acceptance, patience, and inclusiveness are the most potent means to address the dynamics of family conflicts. Negatively labeling the autistic with a concocted syndrome is unnecessary. Families can deal cooperatively with the issues they encounter, utilizing outside help if need be, without blaming and stigmatizing the neurologically different individual.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism

Published to


Notes: Report of the DSM-V Neurodevelopmental Disorders Work Group and Survey for NJ Residents

January 27, 2009
  1. I just read this Report of the DSM-V Neurodevelopmental Disorders Work Group (from the American Psychiatric Association). I suspect it may be of interest to readers of this blog.
  2. If you live in New Jersey (which does not include me), please complete this survey.

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism

Position Statement Regarding an Action for Children Public Service Announcement

January 25, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on January 25, 2009]

The public sociology advocacy project, The League to Fight Neurelitism, acting in support of United Nations values concerning human rights and social justice, is, frankly, appalled by a new public service announcement on autism. It was produced by the United Kingdom charity, Action for Children.

The fifty-three-second piece portrays autism as an monster, one who lashes out when people “push [his] buttons.” We are informed, however, that, after attending an Action for Children school, he becomes “friendlier with people,” “a better person,” and “at piece with [himself].” The animated monster is transformed into an animated boy.

The League to Fight Neurelitism would ask that this charity respond favorably to the many voices of displeasure from the autistic community and immediately withdraw the public service announcement from broadcast. Perhaps the charity’s administrators could ask themselves how they would likely respond to a broadcast which portrayed members of a particular race or ethnicity as a monster.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism

Published to


Proclamation of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service

January 15, 2009

For Immediate Release [first published on January 14, 2009]

The League to Fight Neurelitism, a public sociology project in support of United Nations human rights principles, joins with the government of the United States in proclaiming the nineteenth day of January, 2009, and each subsequent third Monday in January, as Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service.

Dr. King, we believe, ranks among the most important and inspirational human rights leaders of the twentieth century. He, perhaps more than virtually any other figure, exemplifies the United States civil rights movement and its struggles, laying the groundwork for the election of the first African American president, Barak Obama.

The League to Fight Neurelitism hopes that a similar spirit, one which has, in remembrance of Dr. King, continued to motivate people to pursue lives of public service, will encourage many of us to work, enthusiastically, toward the achievement of full civil rights for autistics throughout the world. All minorities must, if we are to be fair, benefit from this individual’s enormous legacy.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Founding Director,
The League to Fight Neurelitism
Published to: