Friday, June 26, 2015

TED Talk On Autism History

I haven’t seen this TED Talk posted very much on Facebook or referred to on other social media. I’m surprised. Autism is a pretty intense topic, with fully-formed ideas and ideologies from at least two or three different perspectives. The speaker seems to come from a neurodiversity point of view, though he only hints at how deep the divide can be between, for instance, Autism Speaks supporters and autistic bloggers. The value here is the history, which helps explain how all the different paradigms of autism got to be the way they are. If nothing else, it’s helpful to know that autism has always been controversial, and our understanding of it has always been at least as ideological as scientific.

I also think there are insights here that can help increase understanding in both of the main camps. People with the more medical-model view that autism is a public health disaster get more evidence that it is so much more and different than a disease in the typical sense of the word. Plus, neurodiversity advocates might gain some understanding of why so many parents are resistant to different concepts of autism, which are often expressed as passionate criticism of what parents do with autism ... since parents, and particularly women, were previously all-out blamed for autism. I can even understand a little more why some parents don't care what science tells them about, say, vaccines, since they can point to how wrong about autism experts have been over the years.

If I'm missing important points about this video, I would love to hear about it.