Is autism a disability, a mental disorder, or just a difference? Since the early 90's, an autistic rights movement has challenged accepted views of autism, and worked to change how the world sees people with autism. Meet some of the people at the forefront of this growing movement, and find out what they see as the positive aspects of living with autism.
Amanda is an autism-rights activist who makes videos explaining how she experiences autism one has been viewed more than 700,000 times on YouTube. “To say that one person’s experiences of life are automatically richer than another’s isn’t something I’d consider accurate. It bothers me to hear autism described as a tragedy. I don’t think that kind of language helps anybody. Pitying someone else is as destructive as self-pity is.”
Ari is the Founding President of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. “The neurodiversity movement stands for the idea that instead of trying to find a way of making autistic people normal or making people with other forms of neurological difference normal, what we should be doing is addressing the true problems and barriers that exist in our lives. People should not simply be written off because they have a different way of thinking.
Estee is the mother of six-year-old Adam, who has autism. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Autism Acceptance Project. “Normalization to me is a very negative concept, because it puts the onus on the disabled person to change rather than rethinking the way society looks at disability. That’s my stance: I believe that for Adam’s sake and his future I would want somebody to stand beside him and support him and say ‘You do have a voice’.”