“Autistic children are not disabled, they are actually very abled,” Access Consciousness Founder and best-selling author Gary Douglas has consistently maintained.
To Douglas, autistic people represent a mutation of the species, a mutation we could all learn from and which would contribute to our survival as a species.
One of the outstanding examples of this is 66-year old Temple Grandin, who considers herself a livestock management expert first and autistic person second. She has a PhD and teaches animal science at Colorado State University. Grandin’s mother could have been echoing Douglas when she insisted that her daughter was “not less, just different” to the psychiatrists who diagnosed her and recommended she be institutionalized at age 4.
Now Grandin and other high functioning autistic people, covered in a book excerpt in Time magazine, are using science and more, to demonstrate the correctness of Douglas’s assertions.
Researchers at Riviere des Prairies hospital at the University of Montreal discovered in 2007 that the measure of the intelligence of autistic children varied greatly, depending on what kind of tests were given. When tested on information that could only be learned by social interactions, autistic persons scored low.
When tested on information obtained non-verbally, however, only 5% were labelled low functioning and one third demonstrated “high intelligence.”
For people placed anywhere on the spectrum of autistic behaviors, the ability to function without the scope of usual human emotion could be seen as a strength, as Douglas asserts. The emotions that most people live from create judgments and limitations. Autistic people would never be considered wrong from the point of view of Access Consciousness, but if they are able to function beyond the emotions that create such a limitation to the rest of us, would that in itself represent a mutation of the species into something greater than where most of us are functioning from?
Here’s an example. One researcher on autism, Michelle Dawson, was praised by a co-worker in her research for “seeing the positive” in autism. Dawson demonstrated her freedom from other’s judgmental assumptions in commenting that she didn’t see behaviors she was describing as positive or negative. “I see it as accurate.” Positive and negative are both judgments; Dawson was functioning beyond those judgments that limit so many of us.
Temple Grandin, in the excerpt from her newest book, The Autistic Brain, tells the story of a conversation with the director of a school for autistic children that tried to match students’ strengths with possible career choices. Grandin recalls, “When I asked her about how the school identified the strengths, the dierctor immediately began talking about how they helped students overcome social deficits.”
“If even the experts can’t stop thinking about what’s wrong, how can anyone expect the families who are dealing with autism to think any differently?” asks Grandin.
Douglas, too, has noticed how the point of view of the wrongness of the “different”, including the autistic, has prevailed in most approaches to assisting autistic people to integrate in this society.
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Diva Diaz is an Access Consciousness® and X-Men facilitator. Being an X-Men herself, she is passionate about this topic and the change this work creates!