Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Being different .....

Today's Independent covers a report given by Professor Fitzgerald to the conference of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Glasgow yesterday. The headline is "Keith Joseph, the father of Thatcherism, 'was autistic' claims Professor "

Professor Fitzgerald states that Keith Joseph and Enoch Powell probably had aspergers syndrome (autism is a spectrum, aspergers is on that spectrum).

So here is a chance for the media to discuss this subject in a positive, or at least more balanced light, and what do they do. They highlight two reactionary unpleasant rightwingers !
Aspies have enough hassle without being branded rightwing ! The article seems to imply that the two go hand in hand, they don't.

They mention less unpleasant characters only briefly (Orwell , Newton) . Obviously more newsworthy to highlight Powell and Joseph.

The media tends to cover this issue in terms of sympathy for parents and as an 'affliction'. Aspies do not fit neatly into the norms of society and so the talk is of how sad it is, justifying parents who kill their children when they cannot cope . The debates on MMR all focused on whether it 'caused' autism , but did not address the realities of autism and aspergers, or take the chance to educate people.

The article goes on to say :

"The university professor of computer science with the brilliant mind, few friends and an obsessive interest in model trains is the classic sufferer."

Yes, lets throw around some stereotypes that would not be acceptable if written about other groups who suffer discrimination. Oh and of course the classic , aspie as 'sufferer'. Most 'suffering' is caused by other people's ignorance and fear of anyone who does not fit in . Its caused by a society that does not recognise and accept difference and by offensive remarks such as Professor Fitzgeralds.

The Aspies for Freedom site has a rather more balanced list . It includes Darwin, Einstein, Samuel Beckett, Lewis Carroll, Patricia Highsmith, James Joyce, Arthur Conan Doyle, Kant, Bertrand Russell, Bill Gates, Beethoven, Courtney Love, Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Stanley Kubrick......

So not all the stereotype 'geeks' or right wing politicians then.

Some links for those who are interested in understanding a bit more :

And to see the world from another perspective :