Friday, April 24, 2009

R.I.P., Alyric

I learned from The Gonzolog that autism blogger Alyric, who wrote A Touch of Alyricism, has passed away, having fought cancer for a year.

Alyric was not a personal blogger; she preferred to write about the science of autism, the ethics of autism advocacy, and to debunk --- with astonishing wit and grace --- the fallacies of the anti-vaccination cranks and the nastier stereotypes of adult autistics.

Because she did not blog about her own life, I had no idea she was sick. From reading others' blog entries memorializing her, they were equally blindsided.

Even though I did not read Alyric regularly, I did find her blog intensely interesting, informative and well-written. Her husband and daughter have chosen to keep her writings visible online, so people who haven't had a chance to read her can still do so.

Here are some of my favorite things she's written:

"Blueprint for a 21st Century Witch-hunt" - an extended analogy between Internet communities and medieval villages, with specific focus on the way in which certain groups of people (she focuses on autistics, though I'm sure there are others, too) get scapegoated and demonized within these insular enclaves. It also features a lot of amusing figures of speech, of which my favorite would be her likening the "flat affect" characteristic of Asperger syndrome to a "witches' caul."

"Unnatural Selection" - a discussion of eugenics and the possibility of a prenatal test for autism

"The Infamous 166" - a closer look at the autism-prevalence statistics

"A Tall Tale - and about to Topple" - a detailed explanation of one of the more sophisticated autism-as-mercury-poisoning conjectures

"Indistinguishable From Their Peers" and "Review: Behavior Therapy for Children with ASD" - critiques of existing literature on ABA

We'll miss you, Alyric. The blogosphere is poorer without you.

1 comment:

Gonzo said...

I really like how Sharon and you both included your favourite posts by Alyric.
She's been blogging for so long and left such a huge body of work, the recommended posts are a real good starting point for those not familiar with her blog.
Thanks for writing this, it's good to see people paying tribute to her. I've also included this post in my list of recommended reading.