This video was passed on to me: ignore the beck and focus on Jacob. I find beck intolerable, especially the sorts of things he says to Jacob, but if you focus on Jacob and his story, it is well worth sitting through beck’s non sequitors.
Mrs. Barnett: “At the time it meant that there was no hope…I talked to every doctor I could find, every therapist I could find: ‘we don’t think he’s going to talk again…we think he will always be in special ed’…”
At 14 months old, the first words coming out of Mrs. Barnett’s son, Jacob, were regarding how to determine the volume of a cereal box.
“His handwriting wasn’t so good…”
Now Jacob, 12, is in college and solving differential equations. At 170, his IQ supposedly measures higher than Einstein’s. He plans on disproving the big bang, and astrophysicists are saying he’s “asking the right questions.”
Mrs. Barnett’s advice to other parents who have stigmatized children is excellent, and she and her husband seem to have been great parents, despite the advice of “medical” “authorities.” The only issue I had was with this statement:
“When you’re given an overwhelming diagnosis, do not give up”
The problem with it is that it is still stuck on the level of “such a diagnosis exists.” Of course, it’s not her fault — because of the specialized structure of our society, we must, inevitably, rely on the “authorities.”
Her statement falls into the narrative of “we proved the doctor wrong and beat x (cancer/asperger’s/autism) disease despite diagnosis.” The problem with falling into that narrative is that it presupposes that autism is like cancer, a disease that has a biological origin that has the ability to be isolated, treated, and cured.
When we listen to cases like this, the idea that autism is a medical illness is reinforced. The faulty inductive/deductive reasoning of psychiatry is never questioned. Her statement follows the narrative that there is nothing wrong with psychiatry in the first place.
What this narrative absolutely does not bring up is that there is nothing to diagnose medically.
More accurately she could have said:
“When your child is given an overwhelming stigmatization in a 15 minute med check, do not give up”
Math, art, science…are all marked by individuals who are not “normal.” In fact, their abnormality IS their muse. My question is not regarding children like Jacob, who are obviously so talented that no psychiatrist could beat them down with prescription drugs, but less outstanding (but still talented) individuals.
If psychiatry is a standardized part of our society, the Jacobs of the world will of course stick out, but what about the more normal but still exceedingly intelligent not-jacobs?
How many of these kids have to be doped up on psychiatric meds, having their happiness, health, and talents put at risk/suppressed, until we realize we are doing something terribly, terribly wrong?
Why can’t we have a different societal view of “abnormal” behavior?
How much utility is lost per year because these persons are stigmatized?
In this case, I’m limiting my points to apply only to the children who have a few quirks, but are still extremely talented and functional. If you’re going to debate/discuss these points, keep that in mind.