Monday, December 21, 2009

Autism and Intellectual Disability: Yet Another Article Claiming Shakespeare Was Autistic While Ignoring Intellectually Disabled Autistic Persons

While the mainstream media and prominent on line sites ignore the existence of the 80% of persons with Autistic Disorder who are intellectually disabled they love to talk about how talented individuals and historical geniuses were autistic or displayed autistic traits.

In Research Reports Link Between Handwriting and Autism Digital Journal manages to reference actor Dan Akroyd along with talented historical figures including Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and George Orwell as displaying autistic traits:

"Great writers such as Lewis Carroll and George Orwell were found to have characteristics now associated with autism yet had significant language abilities ... Autistic children often exhibit behaviors that other people might find curious or even alarming, however the young child flapping his hands today may be the century's next Shakespeare, as research has noted the discrete abilities exhibited by autistic children beyond fine motor skills. "

It makes for good copy to claim that Shakespeare, Carroll and Orwell were autistic.  Meanwhile there is no mention of the unknown autistic people living in institutions and residential care facilities  in states and provinces across North America and around the world.  The 80% of persons with Autistic Disorder and Intellectual Disabilities remain the Invisible Autistics.

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farmwifetwo said...

So, you have to have autism to become a historical figure. But only a feel good one is my guess... What about Napoleon, Hitler and any other "empire builders".. those would have been obsessive personalities...


Claire said...

I'm starting to think my Dad was autistic...and most of my profs at university..and my kindergarten teacher...she was awesome smart.

lifeofthedifferentlyabled said...

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Roger Kulp said...

The scientific research found the handwriting skills of autistic children to be much poorer than the skills of the non-autistic children. The fine motor difficulties are similar to the problems parents report their autistic children have doing simple things such as holding a fork or tying shoes.

My mother,my teachers,or I could have told people this forty years ago.To dismiss this as anything but a disability,and to say it might make you another Shakespeare is up there with the most laughable stretches that any ND type could come up with.

Astrid said...

Well, yes, I agree with you this time Harold. There is no way any historical figure could've been posthumously diagnosed with autism, and in fact we dont'need historical geniuses to prove our human rights with. I am in no way like Einstein, Shakespeare or who have we, and I don't need to be like any of them to be valuable as a human being. Worse yet, I feel the subdivisions of the disability movement that include "Einsteinaise" with their arguments for acceptance, are cutting at their own flesh, because people who dont'support the disability movement can easily say: "Hey, my [child/partner/friend/etc.] is in no way like any of these historical figures, so the disability movement can't speak for them."

@ Farmwifetwo: it is pretty common for people of a particular personality type, including people with mental disabilities, to associate historical figures or geniuses with their type. Winston Churchill and Einstein (who has every mental disability known to modern psychology, apparently) were dyslexic, Van Gogh had either bipolar or schizophrenia, etc. Of course we don't want to know that historical tyrants could've had the same disabilities we have, even though teh simpel fact that a historical genius or a historical tyrant had our disability, doesn't say anything about the intrinsic evil or genisu in that disability.

polyrhythmia said...

Perhaps the reason famous people are mentioned as having autism is so that people can have an excuse for not helping or providing services for everyday autistics. After all, if these famous people can make it big while having autism, why can't all autistics?
I don't qualify for autistic disorder because I don't meet the unstated criteria for it: intellectual impairment, but I do have difficulty with controlling my hand when writing and did not know how to tie a bow knot until I was 8. And I don't speak for any other autistics.
People in the autism community should remember that few people on the outside know or care about autism.

Astrid said...

@ Polyrythmia: anyone who uses historical geniuses as an argument to deny today's autistics' disability, has to realize that these historic figures lived in another era from today's autistics. The same theorists who say that Newton and Einstein were autistic, say that they would've been instituttionalized had they lived in today's world. Maybe other people who are successful despite a mental disability now, would've ended up much worse than they do now, had they live din a different time period.