March 18, 2012

Is Aspergers and High functioning Autism really a disability?

Note:  AS = Aspergers Syndrome
HFA = High Functioning Autism

I've been reading this article by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, a noted researcher at Cambridge University.  I like how he breaks it down to looking at "normal" and "autistic" behaviours and contrasting them as being simply different ways of looking at things.

Like this part

 The list could be expanded but these 12 behavioural features are sufficient to illustrate that children with AS/HFA are different in ways that can be described in value-free terms: none imply any necessary disability. Rather, most of the above facts show the child as immersed in the world of things rather than people. This might be a basic way of defining the difference between a person with an autism spectrum condition and one without it . 

This is the article that mentions at the bottom about the likelihood that your father/grandfather was an engineer if you're AS/HFA.

A recent study of 1000 families found that fathers and grandfathers (patri- and matrilineal) of children with autism or AS were more than twice as likely to work in the field of engineering, compared to control groups . Indeed, 28.4% of children with autism or AS had at least one relative (father and/or grandfather) who was an engineer. Related evidence comes from a survey of students at Cambridge University, studying either sciences (physics, engineering, or maths) or humanities (English or French literature). When asked about family history of a range of psychiatric conditions (schizophrenia, anorexia, autism, Down Syndrome, language delay, or manic depression), the students in the science group showed a six-fold increase in the rate of autism in their families, and this was specific to autism.

My father is an engineer. He exhibits some of the signs of Asperger's Syndrome I believe.

As far as I am concerned: do I consider AS/HFA as a disability or simply a difference? I'd say it's both.  You have to explain your deficiencies to others.  You are not the same as the normal social public. But you aren't truly disabled.  You are simply different in your way of thinking.

What is your opinion out there in internet land?  Any thoughts/opinions that you care to share?

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