Wednesday, February 04, 2015

An Intersection of Ableism and White Supremacy Involving Autistic people

I participated in an online project testing social intelligence. It involved looking at a photo of someone's eyes and deciding which of four different words describe what you think the person is feeling. One of the things I noticed was that almost all of the examples involved white/white-passing people. They were taken from British magazines in the 90's. Were they REALLY unable to find any people who aren't lily white? It isn't measuring social intelligence at all. All it shows is a person's ability to determine what white people might be feeling. Am I the only one who sees that as flawed?

Then, on the end page, it explains that the test was developed as a part of research on autism. I guess only autistic folks who live among white people are worthy of research. To top it all off, it explains that this version of the test was described as a part of this study:

Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Hill, J., Raste, Y., & Plumb, I. (2001). The "Reading the Mind in the Eyes" Test revised version: a study with normal adults, and adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 42(2), 241-251.

"A study with NORMAL adults and adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism"

There is so much unethical and ableist about this that I don't even know where to begin with unpacking it all. It posits autistic people as abnormal. According to this, autistic people aren't just different. They are sick, disordered, diseased. This is why so many people reject the medical model of disability. Mainstream psychology and psychiatry shows an utter disregard for anyone outside of their enforced norms. It's no wonder that many autistic people avoid these two fields altogether. Psychologist and psychiatrists can't be trusted to even treat autistic people as humans. It can be downright dangerous to be an autistic person of color receiving treatment based on the results of these kinds of studies.