Autism. Listen.

Posted By on May 19, 2010

Tonight my family watched one of our newer favorite programs, Parenthood. The show is about a family, an extended family. There are a mom and dad, their three adult children, two adult children’s spouses, and their children. It’s generally a good show.

There is also a young character, one of the grandkids, named Max. He has Asperger’s Syndrome.

From the time his parents learned of his condition, I was at least a little concerned about how they treated the knowledge. The mother was devastated. Her perfect son wasn’t perfect, and he never would be. The dad was pragmatic, ready to deal with the problem. The aunts and uncles were pitying and sympathetic. Those poor parents, having such a terrible woe to befall their family.

The only problem with it all is that Apsergers is not a sentence. It is a difference. And difference is not necessarily a bad thing. They were heartbroken when they learned that their son would not be cured. I will tell you right now I am grateful that my son will never be “cured.” I like him exactly the way he is. But tonight’s episode was dedicated to Autism Speaks, an organization that exists to try to eradicate the thinking differences we call “Autism Spectrum Disorders.”

I’ll tell you something else. In a world without Aspies, we’d have precious few engineers, software developers, and mathematicians. Albert Einstein was probably one. There’s a good possibility that Edison was, too. Who you are is a gift to the world. People who are different from you are also a gift to the world. They don’t need “cured” just because they are different. They may need special help to learn to adjust to a world that isn’t like them, but that’s a far cry from needing to have their uniqueness taken away and replaced by more mundane gifts.

If we really must “cure” all differences, maybe we should go back to taping the hands of the left-handed, or go back segregation? Maybe we should re-ignite a search for a master race, even?

Or maybe, just maybe, those of us who are “normal,” “typical,” or “standard” need to learn to recognize the gifts in those who are different from ourselves. If we deprive ourselves of the gifts they have to offer, then maybe it’s the “normal” who are foolish and broken.

If you watched this program and are also bothered by it, please consider writing a letter to NBC to let them know that just because Autism Speaks is a squeaky wheel does not mean they are right.


4 Responses to “Autism. Listen.”

  1. Covarr says:

    You might want to check out Aspies For Freedom.

  2. Sharon says:

    I have never seen the show, but I know this post would touch a friend dearly.
    Your point of view is beautiful.

  3. Thanks, Sharon.

    Andy, I like a lot of what AFF says, but I have to part ways with them when it comes to declaring Autistic people a minority. I’m really getting tired of the special interest minority bandwagon.

  4. Shushan says:

    You are absolutely right on!

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