Steven Higgs on Autism - One Half Sentence for Autistic Disorder, One Whole Article for Aspergers
Posted Jul 04 2010 11:45pm
Steven Higgs has been a refreshing voice on the autism internet. He doesn't simply regurgitate the official line on issues and his journalism background and writing skills are always helpful. When it comes to autism "spectrum" disorders though Steven Higgs does what most in the mainsream media and on the internet do ... he ignores almost entirely those with Autistic Disorder, those most severely affected by autism disorders, and writes an article about the entire autism spectrum of disorders in which he focuses on Aspergers.
In Autism's generation gap, a lesson re-learned Steven Higgs relates his experience, and those of parents of autistic children that he has spoken with, when they realized certain essential truths about "autism". Higgs mentions ... in one sentence ... his experience with "full blown autism":
"Travis is the first autistic person I've actually conversed with. Over the course of this project I've interviewed a half dozen parents with autistic kids; shaken hands with, observed and photographed a 22-year-old man with Autistic Disorder, also known as "full-blown autism," who lives in a group home in Indianapolis and requires professional care, 24-7; and shared space with (but only caught a fleeting glimpse of) a 15-year-old girl with Asperger's."
The highlighted words in the preceding quote are the only mention of Autistic Disorder in this article about "Autism's" generation gap. The rest of the article is about Aspergers. Like almost all mainstream media and internet articles Bloomington "Alternative" journalist is anything but alternative. It is yet another article in which the author talks talks about autism by taking the easy route, by focusing on the high functioning persons with Aspergers exemplified by the corporate board members of ASAN and its leader Ari Ne'eman, a very intelligent, high functioning person with excellent communication and social skills, and curiously enough, a diagnosis of Aspergers, who has been appointed, first by himself, then by his media and political connections, to speak on behalf of the entire purported autism spectrum. From Jim Sinclair to Temple Grandin to Michelle Dawson to Amanda Baggs to Alex Plank to Ari Ne'eman to this Steven Higgs artiicle, the public rarely sees those most severely affected by autism disorders.
To his credit Steven Higgs at least mentions, albeit in one part of one sentence, the existence of persons with Autistic Disorder who require 24-7 care. In itself this brief mentions a bit of autism reality rarely seen outside this, and a few other, Non Neurodiversity, autism blogs.
That small mention of someone severely affected by Autistic Disorder is a huge step forward in mainstream media and internet discussions of the alleged autism "spectrum". But more is needed to end the misrepresentation of autism spectrum disorders and the banishment of the original severley autistic from public consciousness. Much more.