A high functioning autistic named Moggy left the following in the comment section at PLA that is one of the most interesting views of autism that they have ever encountered. I agree, it is a must read.
Here it is in its entirety.
Hello Mr. Meredith —
I ran across your blog while looking for blogs by other autistics such as myself. I am in the “moderately functioning” autistic range; the only reason I am not true Kanners is because I have an extremely high IQ (~176) and therefore can compensate for my neurology. I cannot handle sound, I avoid eye contact; I have a cecostomy because I could not be toilet-trained (my neurology just isn’t capable of it!), panic if near other people, lose the ability to communicate under stress, stim a great deal, the whole 9 yards.
I know I don’t SOUND very autistic in writing — this is because it is my savant talent. I am a top English major at U.C. Berkeley, with plans to get a Ph.D. in the future. Not easy to do, as an autistic, but writing is my life.
Anyway, what I want to point out is that while I understand the pain you feel in not having a “normal” son, it is not a horrible thing at all to have autistic neurology. I love it and, like many other autistics, would rather die than be normal. As in so many other things in life, there are two sides to this picture. You view our stimming, perseverant (hyperfocused), off-in-another-world lives as a tragedy; *we* see your socially-oriented, everyday-grounded, serious lives as equally sad. Yes, we freak out in your loud stores, we are unhappy when your social beliefs cause your kind to “train” us into doing things like making eye contact (which is an immense mental strain)…however, those are not detriments of autism, they are reflections of the pain of having the dominant neurological culture forcing its philosophies upon us.
For example, I have a high-functioning autistic friend that grew up being beaten for his harmful stims, like pulling out his eyelashes or rocking. Now, he works in a tech firm where he is absolutely miserable because the boss has decided that whenever he is not doing actual computer maintenance, he must answer the phones. His autism prevents him from easily understanding speech, and he is a noncommunicative person, so this is an intensely stressful experience for him. Is his unhappiness now or in childhood the result of autism? No — it is because “normal” individuals demand “normal” neurological behavior of us, and because we lack the “normal” social ability to deceive others or defend ourselves successfully, we have little choice but to comply where “normal” people would find a way to escape.
We are a neurological minority, not “damaged” creatures that must be fixed. You would hopefully not pity someone that grew up in Cancun based on the fact that their cultural experience is different from yours; why bemoan the life of someone that has lived in a different neurological world?
Please do not be furious or miserable over your son being autistic. Cherish the fact that he has a brain that finds joy in places only we autistics do. Blame whatever unhappiness he encounters on the dominant neurological culture he is forced to encounter, with its emphasis on bright colors that hurt our eyes, loud noises that hurt our ears, rough textures that hurt our skin…not on the mere fact that he is different from you.
I highly recommend, sir, that you visit http://home.att.net/~ascaris1/ and read that autistic’s brilliant essays. Check out AutisticSpectrumTreehouse, AS-Pride, and AS-Circle on YahooGroups — listen to those of us that *know* what it is like to live like your son. We are all very alike: we know the autistic world on a personal level and welcome any that wish to learn what it is truly like to live in it. Do all of that, see the world as it truly is through your son’s eyes rather than through those of a normal father wishing his son were normal…*then* consider whether his differences are intolerably horrible to him, or if it might merely be your own incomprehension that anyone could be happy with a different neurology.