Autism Disorders and Identity: Some High Functioning Autistics Angry Over Being Associated with Intellectually Disabled
Posted May 02 2010 6:54am
One of the most unusual elements encountered by parents of low functioning, intellectually disabled autistic children is the angry, hostile reactions of some persons with High Functioning Autism and Aspergers to any mention of Intellectual Disability as a characteristic of autism disorders. A recent example amongst many that I have encountered is the May 1 comment by Alan Griswold on his blog Autistic Aphorisms and the comments by some other high functioning autistic persons in response. The commentary, including Mr.Griswold's, dismisses credible authorities like the Canadian Psychological Association and the CDC who have published statements indicating that 80% of persons with Autistic Disorder and 41-44% of all persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders are also intellectually disabled. In the place of these authorities the commentators substitute their own opinions and their obvious dislike of being associated in a diagnostic category with so many persons who are intellectually disabled.
Mr. Griswold is the author of a piece of autism enlightenment calld " Autistic Symphony ". In that work, apart from the title portraying autism as beautiful music, Mr. Griswold includes a chapter embracing an article which purports to show by a review of historical references that Jesus Christ was autistic. The "Jesus was Autistic" nonsense is the most extreme example of efforts to comb history and define various remarkable individuals as autistic ... usually geniuses like Einstein, Van Gogh and Mozart. For those who identify with the autism label any talented, positive figure must have been autistic ... but not those intellectually disabled autistics living with us today.
The Canadian Psychological Association and CDC figures pointing to high numbers of intellectually disabled autisics can not be trusted but a flimsy, flaky article speculating that Jesus was autistic, well that is truly worthy of embrace by the author of Autistic Symphony. Identification with a psychiatric diagnostic manual category may help some people understand challenges they have faced. It can also, in some cases, inflame their bigotry towards those less advantaged ... towards those many low functioning autistic persons with intellectual disabilities.
Autism may well be a symphony in some people's fantasies but in the real world it is a number of serious disorders. In the case of Autistic Disorder 75-80% of persons with the disorder are also intellectually disabled. All the cheap, derogatory insults and bigotry towards those with intellectual disabilities on display at Autistic Aphorisms will not change those facts.