This video was originally uploaded to YouTube on December 29th, 2017.
Recently, I read a Pacific Standard article written by Gwen Kansen entitled “I’m a High-Functioning Autistic; Here’s What the Neurodiversity Movement Gets Wrong about Autism.” In one paragraph, she mentions:
“First off, many of us aren’t high-functioning enough to benefit from depathologizing autism. The neurodiversity movement doesn’t have much to say about lower-functioning autistics, who are decidedly less inspirational.
There’s a saying that autistic kids don’t grow up. And many don’t. They live in group homes, where they have to be watched like hawks so they don’t wander off and drown. They can’t talk to you. Some can’t even shower by themselves. And they certainly can’t offer nuanced opinions about a cure. Some members of the neurodiversity movement will tell you that “most” autistic people don’t want to be cured — but some studies show that over half of us have an IQ below 70.”
This, along with many other blogs and articles, has led to some speculation by critics of the neurodiversity movement about whether or not it shuts out the lower end of the spectrum altogether. But does it really?
One thing that Kansen mentions in her blog is that over half of the autistic population has an IQ below 70, and this has been disproven by John Elder Robison when he served as a member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. Robison did a study that showed autistics in a variety of IQ range, and his results showed that the numbers were not too different from the general population.
Along with that, many autistics’ intellectual disabilities are specific and are not necessarily intellectually disabled in a diagnostic sense. While many have limitations in social intelligence, the overall cognitive function for most, even for those who are nonverbal, are generally average.
This does not mean that autistics who are cognitively disabled are or should be ignored. This just means that we should recognize that autism and intellectual disabilities have different challenges with limited overlap and the neurodiversity movement advocates for a broader range of accommodations. Technology is also addressing these issues and coming up with ways to give autistics all over the spectrum better accommodations.
Another topic that’s mentioned a lot when debunking neurodiversity is the meltdowns. Many parents mention how their children attack them and smash their heads through walls.
Meltdowns are extremely common for those on the spectrum, no matter where one lands on; especially during childhood. Often, when many people see an adult on the spectrum that rarely has public meltdowns, they often assume that was also the case when they were children when more often than not, it wouldn’t be. I rarely have meltdowns in public anymore, but I can’t say that was true when I was a child. Plus, I still have them from time to time, just in private.
Many frustrations come from within, for example, many autistics get angry because they cannot do what neurotypicals do so easily, or from how they were mistreated and abused by others. This is actually where most of my meltdowns stem from. The cause of the meltdowns is not autism itself, but rather the frustration, abuse, and stigma that autistics face. The neurodiversity movement strives for societal change, which can help eliminate their triggers and end the violence overall.
When you look at these issues by themselves, you would realize that these are not neurodiversity issues at all. Neurodiversity is just recognizing that neurological differences are real and acknowledges these issues. Many neurotypicals act like autism is a result of abuse when in reality, they’re born with it. Some can be the result of genetic changes that come out of nowhere, and others can be a result of a gene being passed down from one family member to another.
Those on the spectrum who do have intellectual disabilities and more common meltdowns do want to be heard, accepted, and helped just as much as those on the higher end of the spectrum; and the neurodiversity movement takes steps forward to give them a voice, no matter how they communicate.