Sunday, June 28, 2009

Autism is not a excuse for behaving badly

At the risk of sticking my foot in my mouth I would like to say that having a diagnosis on the autism spectrum does give you the a license to purposely act in socially inappropriate ways.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe in accepting and accommodating behavior when a disability gets in the way of normal social functioning - especially if the person does not understand the social context or are otherwise unable to function in the social situation. And I am not talking about the little social niceties, such as making eye contact, talking in an appropriate tone, or even responding when someone is talking to you.

I am talking about outright unacceptable behavior in people who know better.

So, if you can understand the social situation and deliberately choose to act in a way that is outside the norm, you do not get to claim that a diagnosis of autism gives you a free pass. Nor do you get to claim that it is your "civil right" to act outside of societal norms because you have autism.

Autism is a medical disorder, not a civil rights movement.

If you have autism you do have the right to be treated equally and to ask for people to be accepting of the challenges that that you face. You have the right to be treated with respect. This is nothing more or less than the "rights" that everyone is entitled to - regardless of who they are or any medical conditions that they have.

Sadly, there are those who use autism as an excuse to behave badly.

Take for example a recent series of posts on Autisable, starting with a post entitled Neurodiversity Bull that written by someone calling themselves LadyLibellule. It was a well written critique of the neurodiversity movement that was not overly harsh or judgemental..

Of course there were a number of comments from those who were not happy about the post. I am going to point out the comments and actions of one person in particular - not because I have any particular beef with this person but rather because it is a prime example of someone behaving badly and claiming a free pass because of their autism.

This person calls themselves Abiline_piper_lg and seems to be 22 year old high school math teacher (if you believe his profile). He also claims to be an "aspie" although I am unsure of what specific diagnosis it is that he is claiming.

Lets look at some of the comments that he left of the post. I am not going to include the entire text of the comment, just the relevant parts, so click on the links if you want the full context.

So, starting with the initial comment -
You know, this lady visited my blog recently. She's so full of it. She apparently doesn't understand that "empathy" is a trait we Aspies lack. Someone needs to go back to school I think.
Not too bad yet, but it gets better in later comments -
Take Lady with a grain of salt though. I do apologize such ignorance comes from my hometown of Abilene. I promise you not all of us Abilenians are this ignorant and bigoted.
And better -
I've been the victim of many of her attacks as well, on our local newspaper website. It pisses me off too. I've gotten into it with her. I don't see how she can live with herself honestly. "Lady Libel" is a good name for her too, with as slanderous as she is.
Leading up to him calling the author what I believe was meant to be one of the seven dirty words
I understand where you're coming from. As much as I hate to use this word, Lady Libel is a "c."
And with that we have gone completely beyond what is acceptable in any sort of civil conversations. It is worth noting that the author of the post did not respond to any of these comments, this gentleman was responding to other people's comments and getting himself worked up.

Now this is a bad enough, but if that was the worst of it I wouldn't be writing about it. This gentleman apparently felt that his comments were not enough, so he wrote a post that was also posted on Autisable called Autisaphobia (Rebuttal To "Neurodiversity Bull") in which he likens disagreeing with the principles of neurodiversity to homophobia -
Autisaphobics display an extreme dislike for Autistic-type people. So much in fact, that they want to force Autistics to conform to societal standards for personality traits. Autisaphobia is similar to homophobia (which involves the extreme hatred of homosexuals and trying to force homosexuals to be heterosexual) in that apparently people with Autism are viewed at as sub-human monsters.

As a society we've become way too judgmental. We judge people by what they look like, what they wear, and still even by the color of their skin. Now we judge people by some sort of medical condition that through no fault of their own they have, yet they've come to accept it and are OK with having it and thus don't want treatment? How about you mind your own business (or, perhaps if that's not clear enough, BUTT OUT) and let us choose how to live our lives!!!!
So this is me, being "autisaphobic" and telling this gentleman that he should be conforming to socially acceptable behavior because he clearly seems to know better. While he certainly has the right to live his life how he wants he does not have the right to call someone vulgar names and suggest that they are "bigoted" or "phobic" or filled with "extreme hatred" because they don't share the same views.

You do not have the right to call people names and accuse them of hate crimes simply they disagree with you and you happen to have a diagnosis of autism.

Autism is not an excuse for behaving badly.


  1. Aspie is short informal for someone with 'Asperger's Syndrome'.

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