Wednesday, August 19, 2009

take that, world

A shout-out to my dear friend, Katie Lofton, for passing on a great article by economics professor, Tyler Cowen. You can find the article, called "Autism as Academic Paradigm," at:

I'll offer two quotes to whet your appetite:

"It's been suggested, for instance, that autistics don't care much about other people, or that autistics lack genuine emotions or are incapable of empathy. The more likely truth is that autistics and nonautistics do not always understand each other very well. It's odd that the people who make this charge so often, in the very act of doing so, fail to show much empathy for autistics or to recognize their rich emotional lives."

"When it comes to discourse on the autism spectrum, we should be humane, respect human difference and individuality, respect the need for possible assistance, and recognize the diversity within the spectrum, and all that without assuming that nonautistic ways of viewing the world are always the right ones."

While I loved so much about this article, especially the arguments in the quotations above, I recognize how lofty the author's goal is. I'm the mother of an autistic child and I struggle with the worldview Cowen asks his readers to have. How much more difficult for those whose only interaction with autistic children is when they scream at the grocery store? As with my health care post from a few days ago, I keep coming back to same question. When will we start loving the people we have a hard time loving? And when will we realize that it's on us - not them?

1 comment:

  1. Really great article. I had been wondering after your discussion in the entry "love" whether empathy might seem hard because they are just overwhelmed by those feelings. I have known many times when empathy for me was just sort of stopped up because I was just too overwhelmed and filled with emotion and fellow feeling to respond.

    Anyhow, just a random thought