“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~Thomas Edison
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” ~Albert Einstein
I came across something very interesting yesterday and I want to share it with you.
This was an article published at wired.com called “The Truth About Autism: Scientists Reconsider What They Think They Know.” Part of what it addresses is something I feel very strongly about–Maybe autism isn’t something that needs to be FIXED. Maybe it’s something that needs to be understood. Maybe people with autism have brains that are different, not disordered, defective or diseased. See, I don’t see my son as someone who needs to be cured or fixed or forced to be like everyone else. I see him as an incredible unique individual with God-given gifts and abilities that are integral to our family and to our society. A direct quote from the article: “The condition [autism], they say, shouldn’t be thought of as a disease to be eradicated. It may be that the autistic brain is not defective but simply different — an example of the variety of human development. These researchers assert that the focus on finding a cure for autism — the disease model — has kept science from asking fundamental questions about how autistic brains function.” Monies are made available to find cures, but not to study differentness.
If there were no people on the autism spectrum, there would, in my opinion, be no understanding of gravity, no E=MC2. There would be no Apple computers, no Microsoft, no light bulbs. There would be no penicillin. We would still be sitting around in the dark, thinking we were going to fall off the edge of the earth, trying to make fire and dying of infection caused by paper cuts…but then, would there be any paper? Many autistic people have an incredible ability to hyper-focus. To be so intensely interested in what fascinates them that they will not stop until they get their desired result. In day to day life, it can almost be crippling for some, but in the long run, that intensity of focus creates some amazing outcomes. Why do we want to “cure” that? That quirkiness, that differentness? That amazing gift? If we were meant to be cookie cutter people, we would be.
[Some may disagree, and that’s okay. Maybe it’s easier for me to say, “don’t cure my son”, because he is high functioning, he is ‘verbal’, he manages very well at school, etc. He does do very well. And I am very thankful for that every single day. So, please understand, I don’t discount the experiences of those whose children are severely affected and may be praying for a cure. Everyone has their own opinion and experiences. With that said…]
One of the focuses of this article is a 27 year old woman named Amanda Baggs. She has autism and she doesn’t speak…at least not in the conventional way most people do. She uses a software application on her computer that generates a synthesized voice…she types it, the computer speaks it. Incredibly, she types 120 words per minute. Mainstream society would label her “non-verbal”. I beg to differ. She communicates more articulately and with more passion and thought than most of our “neurotypical” society does. She has also created several youtube clips which she says are a political statement meant to demonstrate to people how they underestimate those with autism.
Take a look at one of her youtube clips:
Rethink what you think you know. Reconsider what you consider communication. Be sensitive to those around you. Don’t underestimate, understand. Try to speak their language. They speak loudly if we will listen.