Big Ideas to Explore
The three topics I will explore and seek to expand understanding of autism are:
1. The beliefs of the Neurodiversity movement and the facts about Neurodiversity, how it contends what is expounded by ableist belief systems
2. The concept of the Spectrum to oppose the ideology of normalcy, the bell curve or anything other attempt at averaging of humanness.
3. Language & Vocabulary Around Autism Discussions: Since no true exploration of discussions around autism would be complete without looking at the language we use, this resource will also present resources to understand language and vocabulary that can be used to support the well being of all dis/abled and autistic people.
With the vast amount of information that is available about autism, I firmly believe diving deeper into these two ideas and exploring connected language, is the way to finding a more expansive and inclusive belief system. The goal is for a paradigm shift in the philosophy of what it means to be autistic and human. A shift that will influence our outlook and result in changing how we approach the functional aspects of autism such as diagnosis, and the need to find a cure/treatment(?).
Please click links below or the drop down menu in the main navigation to explore:
A Balanced Outlook
I have chosen to use this quote as a basis from my inquiry intentionally. While I do not agree with the language Kathleen Miller uses - specifically references to how autism can be 'devastating' and needs 'treatment' ( I see this as advocating for a need for a 'cure'), I do understand the sentiment she is trying to convey.
In the spirit of beginning my inquiry thoughtfully and honestly, this quote guides me to see the thoughts and feelings associated with autism in society, and find the most insightful resources that can help initiate change.
However ableist the language, this feeling of 'despair', and the pursuit of treatments/a cure are quite possibly distinct realities from the past, and within the present day context for autistic people and their families.
My focus and stance is to challenge these ideas by presenting perspectives and ideas that can guide us to create a more balanced and nuanced set of beliefs. A picture where we can see autism for its complexity, and as Miller states, accept the 'uncomfortable tension', consider ethical dilemmas, and balance the need for supports with empowering and respecting the whole person.
I wholeheartedly agree with her that autism is not a disease.
“in my opinion, there are two truths here. First, autism can be devastating; and second, autism is not a disease. These truths exist in uncomfortable tension and may seem contradictory. It can be a complex and awkward stance for a pediatrician when the DSM-5 specifically categorizes autism as a disorder.
But complexity is not a drawback. Complexity encourages us to consider the ethical dilemmas autism unveils: questions of autonomy, decision making, and intrinsic worth. It forces us to question the assumption that people with autism can’t speak for themselves and to carefully balance the need for treatment with the respect for the person. Complexity asks us to weigh the risks of diagnosis with the benefits that may come from the empowerment that knowledge can bring. ( Miller, 2015)