A look into the arguments behind the concept of neurodiversity: that autism can be regarded as naturally occurring cognitive variations with strengths that have contributed to culture and technological advances... also examines the history of autism with a lens emphasis on hearing the stories of autistic people themselves. The below is a short extraact from Steve Silberman NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently (Link to Amazon here). (Note his original observations on Hans Asperger are already considered out of date - and wrong - in the light of more recent work, and the latest addition of the work corrects this)
In Neurotribes, SS quoting Oliver Sacks:
“Sacks cast light on the challenges that they face in their day-to-day lives while paying tribute to the ways they bring the strengths of their atypical minds to their work. “No two people with autism are the same: its precise form or expression is different in every case,” he wrote. “Moreover, there may be a most intricate (and potentially creative) interaction between the autistic traits and the other qualities of the individual. So, while a single glance may suffice for clinical diagnosis, if we hope to understand the autistic individual, nothing less than a total biography will do.”"
[On the current state on the heterogenous nature of genetic factors found]
....The authors of a major study published in Nature admitted that even the most common genetic factors brought to light in their research were found in less than 1 percent of the children in their sample. “Most individuals with autism are probably genetically quite unique,” said Stephen Scherer of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. UCLA neurogeneticist Stanley Nelson added, “If you had 100 kids with autism, you could have 100 different genetic causes.” A wry saying popular in the autistic community, “If you meet one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” turns out to be true even for molecular biologists. In 2010, I spoke to one of the fathers I’d interviewed nine years earlier. He told me that he was no longer worrying about what had caused his daughter’s autism. Instead, he was concerned about her future. She was about to “age out” of the modest level of services that the state of California provided to the family. Despite years of behavioral therapy, her skills had not developed to the point where he and his wife felt confident that she would ever be able to live on her own. “The question that keeps me up at night,” he said, “is what will happen to our beloved daughter when we die?” With the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently estimating that one in sixty-eight school-aged children in America are on the autism spectrum, millions of families will be facing sleepless nights in the coming decades. Many autistic adults are not exercising the strengths of their atypical minds at companies like Apple and Google—instead, a disproportionate number are unemployed and struggling to get by on disability payments. ...
... One of the most promising developments... has been the emergence of the concept of neurodiversity: the notion that conditions like autism, dyslexia, and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should be regarded as naturally occurring cognitive variations with distinctive strengths that have contributed to the evolution of technology and culture rather than mere checklists of deficits and dysfunctions....
... The notion that the cure for the most disabling aspects of autism will never be found in a pill, but in supportive communities, is one that parents have been coming to on their own for generations...."
Should be read alongside Andrew Solomon's Far from the Tree
5 lessons autism has taught me. And from Japan, a glimpse inside a 13 year old autistic boy's head, a blog from E Price on living in a neurotypical world, and click the Autism tag below for more posts on ASD thinking.