What This Controversial Guardian Piece Got Wrong About Autism

I just finished reading an angry article in The Guardian that suggests the rise in autism diagnoses for bright, verbal people devalues and disregards the experience of nonverbal autistics who display aggressive and self-injurious behaviors and (according to the article) are burdens to their families.

As an autistic advocate, autism consultant, writer and presenter, I am no stranger to hearing statements reminding me that autism understanding and acceptance are still a long way off. The uninformed masses often characterize those with the “Asperger’s-type” presentation of autism as lazy, arrogant, savant, weird and lacking empathy. On the other hand, autistics that cannot communicate with spoken language or control their bodies are described as dangerous, destructive, uneducable burdens with no redeeming features that live miserable lives.

Long story short, society’s attitude can be summarized like this: if you are considered “low functioning,” we couldn’t care less about your strengths. If you are considered “high functioning,” we couldn’t care less about your needs. This is what’s wrong with functioning labels!


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