Sep. 8, 2004
Autism at heart of my being

My autistic son now has a chance at life

Letter, Sept. 5.

Autistic differences are at the basic level of perception, at the fundamental level of how neurological resources are allocated. Autistic behaviours consistent with these differences lead to autistic learning and autistic intelligence. Research shows the same kind of atypical intelligence in all autistics, regardless of "severity." Research equally casts doubt on the prejudicial assumption that there are good autistics the shiny mythical few and bad autistics the appalling burdens regularly flaunted by their devastated parents in the media and in the courts.

Letter writer David Lowrey is telling me that I can't be very bright, and have no chance at life without intense behavioural intervention (IBI), since I injure myself and have behaviours that many find objectionable. This is apart from the self-care issues that are now used universally to say autistics like me belong in institutions.

I have no way of knowing if I would hurt myself in a world where it was okay to be autistic, where it was understood that autistics develop, communicate and learn, even though our development, communication and learning fail utterly to be typical. Instead, I live in a world where my nature is said by IBI advocates to be the equivalent of cancer, and where autistics are greeted with horror and hate.

And if I say that autism is integral to me, is at the very heart of who I am, with its great difficulties and its beauty and strengths, I will be denounced and ostracized by "advocates" claiming that if I were really autistic, I, too, would hate my nature and wish to eradicate it.

Michelle Dawson, Montreal