Tuesday December 15, 2015

Rethinking Asperger's: 'If you look at it the right way, it's a gift'

"Asperger's is negative. But only if you look at it that way. If you look at it the right way, it's a gift." - says Kimberley Dudek, who has Asperger's.

"Asperger's is negative. But only if you look at it that way. If you look at it the right way, it's a gift." - says Kimberley Dudek, who has Asperger's. (pawpaw67, Flickr cc)

Listen 23:45

"Asperger's is not a punishment. It's not something wrong."  -  11-years-old Devin Smyth has Asperger's

Last week on The Current, we spoke to Steve Silberman, who makes a similar argument about autism in his book, "Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity." Steve Silberman argues that we shouldn't think of autism as a disorder to be cured or fixed ... but rather as a different way of thinking and being that should be welcomed.

Devin Smyth - Essay

'I get sad at school a lot because I don't get the kids and they don't get me." - Devin Smyth, 11

Devin Smyth on living with Asperger's: 'My Reality and Some Fantasy'
 

‚ÄčAfter our interview with Steve Silberman, we hosted a live web chat with Marg Spoelstra, the Executive Director of Autism Ontario. We received a wide range of questions and comments, many from people who are on the autism spectrum. So we decided to keep the conversation going.

  • Marg Spoelstra is the executive director of Autism Ontario. She was in our Toronto studio.
  • Kimberley Dudek wrote in to tell us about her experience as an adult living with Asperger's Syndrome. She was in Winnipeg.
  •  Liz Laugeson is an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCLA and the director of UCLA PEERS, a program that teaches social, including romantic, interaction skills to teens and young adults on the spectrum. She was in Los Angeles.
     

"Autism is a way of being. It is not possible to separate the person from the autism. Therefore, when parents say, I wish my child did not have autism, what they're really saying is, I wish the autistic child I have did not exist, and I had a different (non-autistic) child instead. Read that again. This is what we hear when you mourn over our existence. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure. This is what we know, when you tell us of your fondest hopes and dreams for us: that your greatest wish is that one day we will cease to be, and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces."   

 -  excerpt from Jim Sinclair's "Don't Mourn For Us", 1993

Read the Full Essay: "Don't Mourn for Us" by Jim Sinclair


This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar.