Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chordatesrock: Autistic People Should

Autistic people should be treated with respect and understanding, in a spirit of love and brotherhood. Understanding does not mean knowing everything without having to study; nor does it mean accepting everything annoying that a person does because you’re unwilling to blame an autistic person for xyr own actions. What does respect mean? Respect means that you grant to autistic people the same general treatment you afford to others: that you let them speak, before you argue; that you accept them as authorities on their own lives and experiences; and that you do not write anyone off as worthless or mindless or retarded.

Autistic people should be accepted as part of society. Everything you heard after the Newtown shooting is most likely wrong; there were a disproportionate number of autistic people among the victims of the shooting, and there is no link between autism spectrum disorders and violence. For your perusal, I submit this list of links on the non-relationship of autism, mental illness and violence. A disproportionate number of my best friends are autistic; none of them scare me. One tries my patience-- honestly, all of my friends try my patience some of the time, regardless of disability-- but not because it’s difficult to be around people who use nonstandard forms of communication.

Autistic people should be studied in ways that help them, rather than in ways that stigmatize. Their nonstandard communicative behaviors should be catalogued for the perusal of those who deal with them, instead of extinguished on the grounds that they’re disruptive. Their abilities and challenges should both be studied, and reported in language that does not sensationalize or stigmatize.

Autistic people should not have to prove that they have exceptional skills or intellect before being accepted as members of society, because not everyone does have such skills, but everyone deserves to be treated with respect, kindness and understanding. It is the minimum of human decency-- let alone Christian lovingkindness-- to refrain from killing and torturing people, and requires no justification at all. It requires no justification not to institutionalize someone or advocate institutionalization, in the same way that my decision not to go on a killing spree today or ever requires no justification. To imply or state that autistic people should prove themselves worthy before they can be treated in the same manner in which you would treat a stranger or even an animal is to imply that autism is enough to cut a person out of the moral community of humanity, and that those who have it must counterbalance their autism with something exceptional if you are to treat them as belonging to the same species you do.

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