Some self promoting, self proclaimed "geeks" are pushing a distorted view of autism disorders as being the domain of different, even superior, thinkers. Historical geniuses long dead are often cited as examples of "suspected" autistic thinkers. Of course, the self promoting ideologues do not go so far as to embrace possible evil "autistic thinkers". Joe Scarborough was rightly criticized very recently for suggesting that an alleged mass murderer, whose name will not appear on this site, might be a person "on the autism scale". Neurodiverisity autism "self advocates" were vehement in their criticism. Yet the same self promoting "autistics" will diagnose virtually every scientific, musical or artistic genius today, or long dead relics of history, as being or having been autistic. Meanwhile those for whom autism is in fact a disorder, a disorder which limits their lives to institutional care in various forms, that inflicts bouts of serious, sometimes brutally serious self injury, those who wander to their demise, the many with autistic disorder who are intellectually disabled or generally lacking in cognitive development and understanding of the world are never mentioned by the self promoters of "aren't we smart" autism.
Yet another example of the misrepresentation of autism disorders as an alternative, superior way of thinking has been posted at the io9 web site under the title How Autism is Changing the World for Everybody. Admittedly io9 is not an online peer reviewed science journal. It is a science fiction, futurism and fantasy oriented blog site. That said the Changing the World article is breathless, even giddy, in its promotion of autism as superior thinking. It features interviews with various neurodiversity promoters including online magazine writer and soon to be Penguin author Steve Silberman. Neither Silberman nor the article's author, or anyone else referenced in the article, mention that autism is in fact a disorder listed in the DSM and ICD manuals dealing with disorder. No mention is made of the very severe challenges facing those with autism disorders.
Silberman has been busy writing articles online for several years promoting the neurodiversity, alternative way of thinking picture that all too often is posted online, and in the mainstream media, as representing autism. It has worked well for him and has landed him a book deal on autism and neurodiversity for Avery/Penguin to be published in 2013. Way to go Steve! Maybe you will land a movie deal too?
Bold prediction: assuming Silberman acknowledges the existence of those who actually have, and suffer from, the neurological, mental health disorder, soon to be officially recognized as Autism Spectrum Disorder, there will be nothing in Silberman's Penguin Neurodiversity Manifesto to help them.