Autism, Culture, and Representation

Archive for December, 2011

Hello Again!

I can’t help it. After just a few days, I’m back!

The funny thing about keeping a blog is that after awhile, you start thinking in blog posts. And when that happens, there’s no point in resisting it; and so, here I am.

After a crazy final-full day, I’m officially DONE. Which comes with many complicated emotions of joy and sorrow and even fear. But one of the things that kept me going today was looking forward to my trip to India over this break as well as my trip to the library after my last exam.

During a study break, I made a list of books that I could get for my trip to India. After Prof. Yergeau introduced me to Unstrange Minds by Roy Richard Grinker, it was first on my list. The book had been sitting on my bedside table for about a week, and I spent a lot wanting to stop studying to read it. The chapter about India was incredibly interesting, and since I’m the kind of person who has to read a book in its entirety to be satisfied, I just had to get it. And now, it will be accompanying me to India.

That’s really all I have to say, but I’m excited. Because the fact that this class over yet it is still influencing me just proves how great it was and how much I’ve learned. I’m hoping to see what I can learn about autism in India while I’m over there, and there will hopefully be more posts to come!

The Beauty of Autism

It’s hard to believe that months have flown by since the beginning of this class. It’s hard to grasp just how much I have learned and how entirely different my perspective on the world is. It’s hard to see it coming to an end.

One of the most important things that I have learned in this class is that there is a ‘culture of autism’. This community of autistic individuals allows people to accomplish many things and fulfill many goals.

This clip about The Culture of Autism was created to honor this vast community. As I watch this clip now, I can’t help but reflect on all the things that we have talked about throughout the semester: all the controversies, all the questions, and some of the answers that we found.

If I had seen this clip just 15 weeks ago, it would have left me very confused. There are many things that I had never been exposed to before. I didn’t even know that there was a culture of autism. Because I didn’t understand autism, I blindly believed in the cure, thinking ‘who wouldn’t want to be cured of a disability?’. But after actually learning about what autism is and how it affects people, after hearing the voices of autistic individuals as they speak for themselves, it is clear that there is no need for a cure.

Autism has created a culture of beauty, a culture that can stand on its own two feet and contribute to the neurodiversity of the world. Neurodiversity: another word that I was unfamiliar with. It amazes me that even with all the emphasis through my education about the importance of diversity, I never really applied this theory to disabilities, especially not neurological disorders like autism. The idea that “neurodiversity… is expressed in more than just the brain” would have been entirely foreign and new to me.

Although this blog post marks the end of the class, it by no means marks the end of this blog. I really hope that I will be able to return to it once and a while in the future just to keep track of the way that this class has influenced me. I love the art of blog-writing, and I have to admit that I’m going to miss these weekly blog posts.

And so, the take-home message is this.

Autism is a culture. Autism is a people. Autism is a way of life. Autism is not a problem, but a beauty.

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