Living with Autism

There was a Horizon documentary on Autism on this week on BBC 2. Available to some via iPlayer here. If you haven’t watched it then take a look.

There were lots of positives to take away from it:

  • It showed footage of an awesome curved wall that kids were propelling Matchbox cars up (did this in my garden with plywood and sand when I was a kid).
  • It highlighted how the different way that we see things and think about things can allow us to do things that neurotypical people can’t.
  • It described the difference between functional communication and conversation. And introduced people to concepts of masking and mimicry.
  • It dispelled the myth that autistic people lack empathy (authors note: yes dude, even though the Wikipedia page on Asperger’s still suggests this).

There was one thing that left me quite cross though. The suggestion that a diagnosis is/should be withheld unless it is “clinically significant”.

I have two big problems with this:

  • If the diagnosis/label is only applied to people who are struggling, people who need help (hence making it clinically significant) then you deprive the world of some positive stories of people with autism. This would seem a great way to underline the stigma attached to the diagnosis.
  • I just don’t think it is fair for someone else to make the decision over whether the diagnosis is significant. I know first hand the impact this can have.

In the experiment with the boat in the box, why did the neurotypical people copy the knocking on the box? That’s a genuine question. I didn’t understand, which I guess makes sense considering I am autistic.

I leave you with the words of Kenny, “I see things in a different way… I think about things in a different way.”

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