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Debates and Autism

This is a rant, based on exchanges elsewhere…

One of the unavoidable aspects of writing and speaking publicly about autism is that I am certain to offend someone with nearly every sentence I type or speak.

I have been told I don't know "anything at all" about autism or its affects on a family.

Let's be very clear: I am officially diagnosed as "high-functioning autistic" and have been "evaluated" (studied? examined?) by neurologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Even though I don't like labels, in this case it is not merely a label but a qualification that I believe gives me some authority to say, "Here is what I experienced."

I do not pretend to know any universal truths about how autism is experienced by individuals, nor do any of the experts I know. I can only write and speak to my own experiences.

Obviously, being able to write and speak publicly is a gift not shared by every individual with a developmental disorder. I am extremely fortunate, and I know that. I also know that my parents did an incredible job raising me in difficult circumstances. Trust me, they did not have an easy time raising me... and I'm still difficult to deal with at times!

What I don't care for are the endless debates and angry exchanges I see online and in person. We need to cooperate more and work on multiple, parallel issues for autistic individuals, their families, and future generations. No one set of questions is more important than another — my desire to teach survival skills is important, but so is the work geneticists conduct. I help current students while research might help future students.

Everyone knows the line: "Can't we all just get along?" Clearly, at least right now, the answer is "No." That's sad.


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