Autism: not an illness or medical condition

March 15, 2016 § 7 Comments


In my time I’ve deleted many posts. Sometimes we blog, tweet and status update in haste.

I’m also hyper aware of the corners of the internet where spats are a click away, and it can certainly be an unforgiving environment.

Yet I’m compelled to tackle the following analogy. I don’t want to identify  the author who I feel just hasn’t thought it through. It is my hope that these thoughts and observations might come to them gently via the net.

Okay so here’s the paraphrase:

“People don’t suffer autism, epilepsy, cancer or depression. They have those conditions & suffer ignorance.”

The idea is that ignorance is the bad guy is fine, but you can see the problem.  It’s the muddling of condition with disease that’s seriously out of whack.

It’s not accurate for autism and cancer to appear in the same grouping as conditions.

I’m sure the character limit on tweets is partly to blame, but underlying it is a conceptual blunder, which helps neither autism nor cancer. I don’t want who I am to be linked with cancer in any context.

I wish that people would think more carefully about how these kinds of juxtapositions feel.

But aside from how I feel when I read this kind of proclamation is the association it engenders in people’s minds of autism with disease and cure. This is ignorant and also dangerous.

In my recent diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome my report states,

“The syndrome is not an illness or medical condition.”

I am happily and healthily autistic.

Gracias. Over and out.


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§ 7 Responses to Autism: not an illness or medical condition

  • […] Source: Autism: not an illness or medical condition […]

    Liked by 1 person

  • chavisory says:

    There’s that….and there’s also that many people with cancer, depression, or epilepsy…as well as autism…often *do* experience themselves as suffering from those things. Societal ignorance makes the situation worse to a greater or lesser extent, but like…people *die* from cancer, depression, and epilepsy. And we don’t really have the right to tell people who are struggling that they’re not really suffering from what they very well may be suffering from.

    We *should* alleviate whatever part ignorance contributes to that suffering, though.

    Liked by 2 people

  • alexforshaw says:

    Curiously enough, I don’t think I’ve ever deleted a post, at least not deliberately. Perhaps that puts me in a minority, but I can never bring myself to consign the written words to oblivion.

    I try to be mindful of my own use of the word suffer. I use it when talking about myself and referring to depression, for example, because I am all too aware of the negative effects it has on my well-being. But when talking about other people I avoid it unless they have explicitly described themselves as “suffering from X.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • soniaboue says:

      Yes – your posts are so thoughtful Alex you probably don’t send them out until you’ve covered most angles! More people could follow this lead. Suffering is a very difficult word to apply – I’m glad others have picked this up. For me it was the confusion of terminology that made me act. I don’t want to see this kind of sentence in my timelines.

      Liked by 2 people

  • I’m always deleting posts or tweets – they sound great in my head until five minutes after impulsively hitting send and I realise that they are entirely open to misinterpretation!

    I’ve only really just reached clarity that autism neither has nor needs a cure. But that the frequently accompanying depression, anxiety, (and maybe many sensory issues?) can definitely be alleviated to some degree. It’s something I’d really like to look into in depth.

    Liked by 2 people

    • soniaboue says:

      Yes Flo – I agree – my cluster of co-condtions is not great. Allergy is a huge issue as is insomnia. Vigorous exercise really helps me to sleep but I get periods when I can’t organise this among the multiple demands of life. I hope you find some answers to alleviating those co-conditions you mention.

      Liked by 2 people

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