Autism as a GIFT?

I will have to be convinced of that!

There is division among autistic folk and much discussion currently about autism’s gifts. Some say autism is a gift! I see this as backlash against stigma and as part of the “think positive thoughts” school of ideas. I understand it is a way to celebrate diversity and to encourage sensitivity and to open minds.

I also view this “you are not disabled, you are gifted” as a form of invalidation and a way of glossing over the struggles that the vast majority of autistic people must deal with. Those of us fortunate enough to be able to argue these concepts amongst ourselves might be losing track of so many of our autistic brothers and sisters struggling in care facilities, institutions, and needing major supports in every day living.

I deeply believe that every life has intrinsic value of its own, regardless of ability or disability.

I believe that it is important to recognize talent and giftedness, all the forms of “otherness” that life offers us as individual human beings, but I believe in being honest, too.
Many of us do not have obvious or “useful to society” gifts.
Are we of less value?

Many of us struggle and struggle deeply, and this also needs to be respected and acknowledged.

I ( or any human) am not my disability, anybody may have deep struggles.
Many have extremely difficult struggles, appalling and daunting struggles in simply surviving another day, any and all of which are not recognized, but swept under that metaphorical rug when I(or any human) am told my struggles are actually a gift.

If I (or any human) am less able to do certain tasks, think certain ways, behave according to certain standards, do I have less value than those who have the gift of having those abilities?

Does an individual who has no special skills or lacks ability to use certain parts of the brain and/or body have less value? I think not.

One thought on “Autism as a GIFT?

  1. I think I agree with you. Gifts are generally positives in our lives. From my fifth decade, I do not see AS as a gift, but more of a burden. In spite of that, though, there is always the silver lining: my struggles made me introspective and my pain helped me to see the pain of others. Because of AS, I became more able to feel and show compassion. And would I choose to have been born without AS? Probably not. It makes me unique, in some way I sense neurotypicals are not. Is that a gift? Maybe. But not a typical gift, that is all upside and no downside, like my sister’s beautiful singing voice or my mother’s beautiful violet blue eyes.

    Liked by 2 people

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