Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Day 'Autism' Died" - a parent's frustration with the language of autism

The Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area blog has a post from a parent who felt the extreme frustration that many others felt when Jerry Seinfeld mentioned in an interview recently that he just might be on the autism spectrum.  Here are excerpts from the blog post:
The Day "Autism" Died
by Jill Escher, president of the Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area

The word "autism" died last week, it ceased to retain any power to create a shared understanding, which is, after all, the very purpose of language.

I'm not bemoaning that Jerry Seinfeld felt himself to have some social anxieties or even that he referred to himself as on the autism spectrum, it's just that I'm plain done with the autism community's failure to have developed a robust enough vocabulary to carve out meaningful distinctions among the wildly diverse assortment of profound pathologies and mere personality accents we have come to think of as "autism"….

….absurdly, competent fully and functional people can be popularly understood as having "autism," even though they in no way resemble people like my own children, who are nonverbal, can't dress themselves, cannot play or have a conversation, will never work, will never have friends, and will require lifetime of 24/7 care…

…It's time for reasonably intelligent people to cry, "Enough!" Words can do harm, but perhaps just as importantly, lack of words can do harm. Now with a half million with more severe forms of autism and probably at least as much with higher functioning forms, we need to radically expand our vocabulary to make the practical distinctions necessary for the shared understanding of the needs of this population and the profound challenges they very often face...

Read more from the Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area Website and Blog:

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