Monday, June 11, 2012

An Open Letter to NeuroNormals

By Alisa McLaughlin

Dear Neuro Normals,

Autism has been around a long time, it's only recently that scientist "discovered" it. Dr. Eugene Bleuler coined the term c. 1912 to describe certain cases of schizophrenics. Leo Kanner later used the term to describe a group of children who were withdrawn. In the 1940's Hans Asperger noticed similar characteristics in a group of children he was studying. Then came the BS theories that blamed "cold  impersonal mothers" (they always blame the mothers) and treatments that involved LSD and electroshock therapy. 

Autistics are not just catatonic rocking, arm flapping head cases- an image truly frightening to everyone-  or freakishly clever like Rainman. We are often quite capable of appearing perfectly normal thank you. It's a disease the experts said, er wait a mental illness no, it's a "neurological condition". Nothing to worry about like a speech impediment or being left handed. Nevertheless parents were told that because of our poor "social interaction skills" we would never be "normal" and thus a source of anguish or pity from the experts. Please.

The obsession with curing it or assigning blame- lately it's drugs, the environment, or defective genes-has a certain ASD intensity to it I must say. The truth is no one really knows what makes someone autistic. Still everyone reacts to the diagnosis as if the autistic has a third eye in the middle of their forehead or an extra arm. 

You just don't understand, there's nothing wrong with us, we're just different. A concept that seems hard for general society to grasp. Do you know how hard it is for us to "fit in" to please you? Instead of something to overcome or cure why not embrace us as the next step in evolution. Embrace the difference instead of running away or burying it. Did you think we wouldn't notice when we are treated like an aberration? Of course anyone with ASD was obviously out of touch with the world. Did anyone ever ever ask us how we feel about the condition?We're OK with ASD maybe you're the ones that need to adjust.

Those with ASD are in esteemed company from Beethoven, Mozart to Bela Bartok. Sir Isaac Newton had Aspergers' written all over him. Scientists Alan Turing, Albert Einstein and physicist Paul Dirac (who was a textbook autistic) were celebrated for their brilliant minds. We're not going away so enjoy our exceptional perspectives and stop trying to fix us. 

Thank you.