Disability, Culture, and Society
Discussion: Discussion: Developmental and cognitive impairments and disablement
Like many of the impairments we’ve addressed this quarter, Autism is described as being on a spectrum. What do you think might be the positive and negative consequences of this description? For instance, what could be gained or lost by suggesting that some people are “more” autistic while others are “less”?
Many autistic activists and self-advocates reject the conception of autism as a “spectrum disorder” in favor of understanding it as neurodiversity, meaning that the ways of thinking and experiencing that are associated with autism are valid and should be respected rather than erased. If autism is so difficult – as many medical and therapeutic professionals suggest – why would they say this?
While the points above are true, many parents and care-givers of “severely” autistic people have described autism as a hardship, burden, or something to fear and destroy. Indeed, in the fall of 2012 alone, roughly 25 autistic children were killed by their parents/care-givers in the Canadian province of Ontario, none of them were convicted of a crime. How might we reconcile these drastically different understandings of, and reactions to, autism?