As head of the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, I feel compelled to respond to Aaron Herman’s Op-Ed article in a recent edition of the Daily (“Ableism at Tufts and the ‘Life, Animated’ screening,” March 13). I was in the audience for the screening of “Life, Animated” as well as the panel discussion that followed and agree that some of the points Mr. Herman raised are important and need further discussion. The intent of this event was to be a first step in engaging discussions about presentations of autism in media. The film and the panel discussion about it were presented as one family’s story. What is important is that we all had the opportunity to participate in an event that dealt with challenging issues not often engaged in the wider Tufts community.
We are sorry if members of The Coalition for Autism Support at Tufts (CAST) or other individuals felt their voices weren’t sufficiently heard. That certainly was not the intent of the event. I would urge Mr. Herman and CAST to reconsider the stance taken in the Op-Ed and move toward more rather than less engagement with Eliot-Pearson and others who are trying to learn and understand autism better.
I would be happy to sit down with Mr. Herman and his colleagues to see if we can begin to implement some of the suggestions in his article in ways that enrich the entire Tufts community. And we might have a few suggestions of our own.
David Henry Feldman, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development