Monday, 25 October 2010

There is no gift about having Autism

In this post, I am going to challenge what has become conventional wisdom. I don't agree with or like the view "Autism is a gift". It is said at conferences, I read it in books, people say it on Facebook, and it is repeated by people like a broken-record, and nobody ever seems to challenge or dispute it.

I ask why is somebody gifted when they might have General Learning Disabilities, can't speak, rocks, can't communicate effectively, flap their hands, bang's ther head and might have seizures with it? Nobody ever says Down's Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy or Spina Bifida are gifts, so why is Kanner's Autism?

When I see someone with Kanner's Autism, or Down's Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy, I don't mock or ostracise them. Perhaps that is the gift that Asperger's has given me, to make me accepting, tolerant and understanding of other people with illnesses, conditions and differences. I think to myself when I see them, "That could have been me if things had turned out slightly differently". Sadly, some people seem incapable of such thought.

However, Autism is a disability, but a hidden one. Down's Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy are disabilties, but visible ones. Autism is NOT a gift. Anybody who is says that it is are talking out of their arse. Repeat, Autism is a disability, but one that is made worse when there is no early diagnosis, provisions and support and understanding.

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