Tuesday, December 21

Autistic Pride - The NYTimes reports on a new perspective on autism: celebrating differences and adapting to situations, not "curing" the condition. In fact, one boy with autism told the author that "we don't have a disease. So we can't be 'cured.' This is just the way we are."

Some believe that autism is a different form of ability, like left-handedness:
At this year's "Autreat," an annual spring gathering of autistics, attendees compared themselves to gay rights activists, or the deaf who prefer sign language over surgery that might allow them to hear. Some discussed plans to be more openly autistic in public, rather than take the usual elaborate measures to fit in. Others vowed to create more autistic-friendly events and spaces.

The comparisons to gay culture and deaf culture (and deaf/gay culture) seem inevitable...allowing people to feel that that it is okay to "act autistic" and to learn strategies to cope with the fact that most people do not think its okay. Say autistic activists, kids would be "far better off learning to use their autistic strengths to cope with their autistic impairments rather than pretending that either can be removed." With the number of cases of autism on a sharp incline, it seems as though this debate isn't going to go away. At what point does public opinion shift about a "community" vs. a "disorder"?