Thursday, January 5, 2012

*Caveat Emptor! A word about Autistic celebrities:

       I'm not one who tries to pin Autism on every famous person dead or alive but if I read of a confirmed case in a notable person I like to post it. I do this for the purpose of combating stigmas and to inspire those on the spectrum or with a loved one on the spectrum. I do have a caveat however: First if an article talks about somebody "overcoming" Autism, that all sounds nice as "overcome" is a popular word but it can easily be misunderstood. Autism is not a disease that you "cure", it is an organic neurological condition. One can overcome the side effects and still become- many Autistic people succeed "because" of their Autism rather than "in spite of". One doesn't overcome Autism the same way one overcomes Alcoholism, Addiction, or Obesity (or any other "disease"). It's also not like a phobia which people can "overcome". (Even phobias aren't 100% curable). If however an Autistic person is held back from expressing their talents due to perhaps a sensory sensitivity, they may learn to manage it in order to move forward. Another example would be if one learns more effective communication skills and is then able to pursue a career where they can use their talents even if the job involves people. In other words people overcome "hurdles", but not necessarily Autism as a whole.
       Where I'm concerned with Autistic success stories is that people can abuse them as a way to judge Autistic people, especially those who are "lower functioning". If one is frustrated in dealing with an Autistic person I don't want these success stories used as a weapon saying "Look, Dan Aykroyd and that kid from American idol have the same thing. Why can't you be like that?", or "Dr. Temple Grandin is Autistic, she got a PhD so you have no excuse to not get through 8th grade English Class." I mean it's good to motivate people to work up to their potential and to avoid self-pity but sometimes these "tough love" lectures or so called "pep talks" can become self-serving and do more harm than good. Remember that Autism is a spectrum and on top of that it's not exactly a neatly organized, linear spectrum either.

No comments:

Post a Comment