This is a wonderful piece. It’s one of the very best I have seen addressing the radical differences in how some people view autism as compared to others.
One of the striking things about disability in society is that there are unusually wide gaps between different schools of thought and practice on disability. I’m not even counting the people who are openly hostile towards disabled people … like the eugenicists who think we muddy up the gene pool, or the grouches who can’t stand it that disabled people get all these “special privileges”. Set them aside completely, and you still have tons of people who all absolutely mean well for disabled people, in their own minds, yet are miles apart on what that actually means and what should be done. Disability seems to be one of those things that really demonstrates how people can look at exactly the same thing and come to completely different conclusions about it.
It’s not just autism, either, though the gap there seems to be truly massive. There are similar gaps over long term care … (Nursing homes and group homes, or individualized supports at home and in communities?) … education … (Push hard for higher achievement and independence, or make disabled kids as happy and protected as we can?) … and employment … (Build sheltered workshops and “day programs”, or provide one-on-one coaching and support in real workplaces?).
Again, there are also truly greedy bastards, resentful cranks, and evil predators, too, but even among the “good folks”, there’s a shocking lack of coherence and agreement. I’m not even saying that’s all bad. It can be productive to have real, substantive arguments over any kind of policy. It’s also much better to have intense, divisive arguments than to have only one, unquestioned policy that’s terrible. It makes communication and understanding a lot harder, though.
Disability life, ideas, identity, culture, commentary, and politics.