Yesterday a very good, kind person who I have known for a while professionally, and who has met my son, asked me whether there was something Conor is really good at. Conor is a great joy in my life and I am pleased that he has made progress with language and understanding life primarily by ABA intervention. But he does not have a special gift or talent. The idea that autistic persons all possess some special gift is one of those enduring myths of autism. One unfortunately, that is perpetuated with each media example of one of the talented individuals with autism who do in fact exist.
The myth that ALL autistic persons enjoy a special gift is also perpetuated by the neurodiversity ideologues who assert that autistics have a different, even superior intelligence. These same ideologues like to identify as autistic any historical figure of great intelligence or accomplishment from Einstein to Van Gogh. They also like to deny that many autistic persons are in fact intellectually challenged and that many live out their lives dependent on the care of others, sometimes in institutional settings. Hiding this unfortunate reality is one of the true offenses of the neurodiversity movement. They try to draw society's attention away from the plight of lower functioning autistic persons, rendering them invisible. Lower functioning, non verbal autistic persons are the victims of a myth, they are the victims of true stigma.