Monday, June 7, 2010

Re-Thinking Autism.

Autism spectrum disorders, we've all read about them. We probably all know someone with this diagnosis.
But do you really know what it means?

I went to a lecture recently about learning differences. The premise was that if you identify what kind of learner your child is you can help them navigate their education. Especially if their school does not support their learning style.

More interesting (to me) was the lecturers take on Autism and Aspergers. Her thought is that people with this diagnosis are perhaps the epitome of different learners.
She proposes that we should be studying their learning styles and celebrating them as perhaps their way of thinking is a way forward.

I was quite fascinated by this theory. Einstein was viewed as odd or socially inept. Would he have been diagnosed with autism in todays world?
Would his genius have been medicated?

As is often the way because the topic is on my radar I keep coming across other stories that may support this theory.
I recently watched a documentary about savants. They used to be known as idiot savants but as their abilities are being more understood the idiot has been dropped - thankfully.
They are now being celebrated and used in business for their genius and their ability to look at the world in an entirely different way.
Their ability to see mathematics, science and language in a way most of us can't comprehend is now being seen for it's advantage.
The accompanying social difficulties are no longer so important. We are learning that perhaps it's us who need to adjust.

As an occupational therapist and a parent I am encouraged when 'they' - the people who diagnose, judge and prescribe are asked to take a fresh look. If you live with a child with an autism spectrum disorder you likely already know this but for me it was just food for thought and a reminder to look at each child in the whole. For who they are and what they bring to the world - even if I don't clearly understand it.

Addendum: I have Adsense on my blog. It picks out words from my posts and attaches relevant advertising. Usually - baby or child related products. Coming back to read a comment I see that an ADHD medication ad is running. This is a post topic in itself - I need the income but what if it means running ads I may not personally support?
I guess I'll leave it at that for now.....


  1. As the parent of a child with ADHD/Bipolar, I have had illustrated for me what I think I already knew, that children learn and express their learning in different ways.

    This is a great post, thanks for writing it. Stopping by from SITS to say hello.

  2. My toddler son has autism and it is refreshing for me to see your thoughts as this wouldn't be the usual train of thought I would encounter. As long as there are people like you in the world, willing to consider other ideas about our children, then they have options and the world seems like a brighter place for them:) Thank you:)Jen

  3. A nice piece of writing, my friend. And a viewpoint I completely agree with - if we are all unique and special and vive la difference, then it stands to reason that we learn differently too.


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