Skip to main content

The Unexpected Twist

I have applied for a dozen 2011-12 university appointments already, not yet a week into September. After last year's job hunt, I decided to narrow my search by location and specialty. When creating a "job search criteria" I omitted autism and focused on literacy and new media opportunities.

This weekend, a job opening appeared that caused me to reconsider a judgment I had expressed several times over the last year. I had stated, emphatically, I would avoid seeking autism-related research posts. Autism research is often the target of vitriolic rhetoric, even threats against researchers. Seeking other posts seemed wise, considering the heated debates around autism.

A major research university has a tenure-track opening that is associated with a leading autism research institute. The post reflects the topics I explored as a graduate student -- the text of the announcement could be used to introduce parts of my dissertation.

I decided to apply for the post, knowing that if I were to earn the position it would cause some consternation among a select group of activists. However, it is also the right thing to do. It is a post from which I could do a lot of good for students with autism. The right thing to do is to apply and see if the university agrees with me that I would bring a unique and valuable perspective to the research.

Plus, it is in a great location.

Comments

  1. Follow your heart and your interests and the world/activists be damned. Do what you think is right for you. Good luck and I hope you get the position.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know that you need the position, and I think I hope you get it, if only for that reason. I hope that it isn't with AutSpeaks, but then, if it is, you might be able to do some good there. Good luck with getting it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "I decided to apply for the post, knowing that if I were to earn the position it would cause some consternation among a select group of activists."

    I am uncertain as to how to indicate frustration and sputtering.

    I know that you're right and I'm glad you know. It's just...not right...

    I am thinking some very unkind thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The post is at one of the top research universities in the U.S., but that doesn't mean the institute hasn't had its share of autism debate nonsense. Sadly, even the founding and funding of university programs leads to heated arguments.

    There are the standard lines, from across the debates:

    1) They study neurology and genetics, which means they want to eliminate people with autism.

    2) They study education and therapy, which means they must not care about a cure.

    3) They study occupational therapy, which means they have given in to the diversity advocates....

    And on and on and on. That's why I wasn't intending to seek out appointments related to autism or disability. Every group creates a conspiracy theory that fits the top research sites.

    The site works within the STAART Network, though it is an affiliate and not one of the eight primary NIMH sites. (Ah, the Secrets of NIMH came to mind typing this.)

    The post would build on my previous research, ideally leading to better instructional techniques for teachers. I know that being able to read and write are key to my existence; helping others improve basic skills seems a worthy goal.

    One can never anticipate how an academic hiring committee will approach these matters, but I do hope I qualify for an interview.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Comments violating the policies of this blog will not be approved for posting. Language and content should be appropriate for all readers and maintain a polite tone. Thank you.

Popular posts from this blog

Autism, Asperger's, and IQ

"Aren't people with Asperger's more likely to be geniuses? Isn't genius related to autism?"

A university student asked this in a course I am teaching. The class discussion was covering neurological differences, free will, and the nature versus nurture debate. The textbook for the course includes sidebars on the brain and behavior throughout chapters on ethics and morality. This student was asking a question reflecting media portrayals of autism spectrum disorders, social skills difficulties, and genius.

I did not address this question from a personal perspective in class, but I have when speaking to groups of parents, educators, and caregivers. Some of the reasons these questions arise, as mentioned above, are media portrayals and news coverage of autism. Examples include:
Television shows with gifted characters either identified with or assumed to have autistic traits: Alphas, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Touch, and others. Some would include She…

Listen… and Help Others Hear

We lack diversity in the autism community.

Think about what you see, online and in the media. I see upper-middle class parents, able to afford iPads and tutors and official diagnoses. I see parents who have the resources to fight for IEPs and physical accommodations.

I see self-advocacy leadership that has been fortunate (and hard working, certainly) to attend universities, travel the nation (or even internationally), and have forums that reach thousands.

What I don't see? Most of our actual community. The real community that represents autism's downsides. The marginalized communities, ignored and excluded from our boards, our commissions, our business networks.

How did my lower-income parents, without college educations, give me a chance to be more? How did they fight the odds? They did, and now I am in a position of privilege. But I don't seem to be making much of a difference.

Demand that your charities seek out the broadest possible array of advisers and board members.…

Life Updates: The MFA Sprint

Life is okay, if more than a little hectic at the end of this first month.

With one month down, I'm 11 months away from my MFA in Film and Digital Technology. Though things might happen and things do go wrong, so far I'm on schedule and things are going well —— though I'm exhausted and working harder than I did for any other degree. Because the MFA requires projects every week, this isn't as easy to schedule as writing. Even researching a paper can be done from the comfort of home, at any hour.

You cannot make movies by yourself, at any time of day. It doesn't work that way. Filming takes time, and often requires a team of people. It's not comparable to working alone on a degree in writing or rhetoric.

The team-based nature of film is exhausting for me, but I enjoy the results. I also like the practical nature of the skills being taught. You either learn how to adjust ISO, f/Stop, shutter speed, and other variables or you don't. You can have theories …