Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Seeing the up side of things

One thing I've been trying to do lately on this blog is to have positive posts or at least positive notes on negative posts. Sometimes it's hard to do when you're involved in conflicts and struggles.

On that note, I came across a post on called In Praise of Autism (after reading a tweet from @autismcrisis). The basic concept is that the autistic point of view can be very valuable in higher education and in information technology. The article seemed like old news, but the comments were what drew my attention. There were several people who felt that the article ignored the desperate plight of "low functioning" or "severely" autistic individuals.

Here's my response to that viewpoint:
I am a parent of a significantly autistic child. I'm not sure what his functioning level will be when he's looking for a job, but right now his disability is very apparent and often makes his life difficult. It also severely limits many of the things our family can do together.

I totally disagree with the commentors here that say if you had a severely autistic child discussions of the value of autistics in the workforce are a waste of time. I want my son to be included in society and included in a mainstream classroom. For that to happen society must see the value of my child and his potential. The discussion of the value of the different viewpoints those with Aspergers bring helps our argument. Although there is extra work to include him, there is payoff. Even if my son doesn't enter the workforce, the kids that have been in class with him will be more compassionate towards their co-workers who are on the spectrum.

On the other hand, the continual demonization of autism and how it has ruined this or that plan or path is not helpful to us. When it's implied that autism has taken our "real" child away from us, why should society waste it's time on the dregs that are left? As parents of more significantly affected autistic kids we have to convince society to accept our kids and find value in them. That means we have to do the same ourselves. The next step is to strongly object when anyone tells us that autism is (and by association, our kids are) a disaster and the only solution is eradication.

Just to make it clear - I love msk for the person he is, and that includes the fact that he is autistic. He would not be the person that I love if he were not autistic. In a similar vein, I would not be the person that I am if he were not autistic.

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