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