Letter to Newsweek
in response to their special issue, Babies & Autism
To the Editors:
Autistic citizens have much to teach us about what it is like to be autistic; the majority develop fluent spoken language over the lifespan. The analogy of "Macs in a world of PCs" is very apt. There are a lot more folks out there with autistic operating systems than we ever imagined, especially those who formerly slipped "under the radar." Indeed, many parents recognize their own autistic characteristics after their children's diagnosis. Well-intentioned neurologically-typical individuals would do well to expand their understanding of autism by consulting a variety of people on the autistic spectrum before launching crusades to "defeat" autism. Expect to hear the unexpected - including the fact that many are profoundly offended at being likened to kidnap victims, their minds and spirits described as "locked in a dark hole," their distinctive pattern of development equated with degenerative disease, their discomfort with eye contact equated with lack of desire to communicate, and their "oddities" described as the cause of discrimination against them.
26 February 2005