Different, Not Worse

Autistic people are different from neurotypical people, not worse. Yes, there are some autistic people with some serious behavioral problems, that any fellow autistic person would recognize as serious. If you cannot speak and/or if you are engaged in self-harm, then there are some serious problems.

But the overwhelming majority of people on the spectrum not only can speak and do not engage in self-harm, but are fully capable of getting very well educated (I have a Ph.D., after all), working, and living fulfilling lives with spouses and children. When people think of autism, they all too often think of the minority with severe autism and forget about those of us for which it’s a hidden condition. Hidden, that is, until you interact with us.

The problem is that people are treating autistic as inferior rather than different. By doing so, they can legitimate discriminating against us.

We of course are hardly the first. People of different races were considered different, when in fact they weren’t in any sense that mattered–not in abilities, to be sure. And for most people, different means inferior.

This is no doubt why, although there is overwhelming evidence for neurological differences between men and women, those differences are rejected by most feminists. But when you reject those objectively true differences, you are buying into the argument that different means inferior. Nowadays, when you say women are different from men, you will get accused of sexism–ironically, by those who actually accept that different means inferior (or else, why object?).

I am on the autism spectrum. I have Asperger’s. I am different. Daniel has autism. He is different. I say “have,” but in fact we don’t “have” it, like we can get rid of it. No, we are autistic. It’s a fundamental aspect of our being, and we cannot be separated from it. It affects the minds which emerge from the neurological differences, if affects the way we behave and interact and think and understand, it affects the way we feel, it affects our morals and world view. We are different. But we are hardly inferior. And we shouldn’t be treated as such.

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