I’m seeing a trend on social media and blogging of people claiming that autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are not disabilities. However, Hans Asperger* himself would disagree with that view.
Some posts on social media, like that screenshot I’ve posted below, from Facebook’s Jettproof, seem to be claiming that autism can actually be beneficial or advantageous.
The truth is that the autism spectrum is very broad, and its effects can be debilitating and disabling for many of those on it.
I understand why people may want to present autism in a positive light. There has been, over the years, something of a stigma attached to the disorder. Not only will autistic people want to see the back of that, but in particular, parents of autistic children will be keen to ensure those children are not stigmatised, or treated unfairly in life. They will want the world to see their children as human beings, not as a disorder, and so they look to focus on some of the very real advantages that can come with some points on the autistic spectrum, notably with Asperger’s.
But this does not mean that autism is not a disability.
TV personality Chris Packham has openly spoken about his problems living with Asperger’s, and his struggles with depression. This is not at all uncommon for anyone with autism.
If a person is::
... all because of their autism, how is this not a disability?
The National Autistic Society actually defines autism is “a lifelong developmental disability”.
According to Steve Silberman in his 2015 TED talk, Hans Asperger, who was almost single-handedly responsilbe for ensuring autism went on to be properly understood both in the medical world and in socity at large, framed autism as a “lifelong polygenetic disability”, and a “diverse continuum that spans an astonishing range of giftedness and disability.”
People with autism, including Asperger’s, are living a daily struggle, and when people misguidedly go on social media, trying to make autism nice and fluffy, they are not helping at all.
*Update: Hans Asperger. Recent reports in the news have revealed evidence that Asperger was a Nazi supporter and allegedly was involved in the killing of children. The above article which refers to Asperger's research into autism should not be taken as an indication that Now We Live support or even ignore this vile criminal behaviour. We are appalled by the revelations, and while we have to accept that Asperger's historical work on autism was pivotal, we are fully behind the trend of referring to "Asperger's Syndrome" simply as part of the autism spectrum, rather than enshrining the man's name as a medical condition.