“You only see what people want you to see.”
A bunch of weeks back, I wrote two articles related to different forms of intelligence. One of them is the traditional academic form of intelligence that we all commonly know and refer to. The other is related to emotions, known as emotional intelligence. The first one is measured with an IQ level, whereas the second one is measured with an EQ level. Today, I want to talk to you about another form of intelligence
This week, I decided to focus on a TED Talk I listened to the other day. It reminded of an interesting paradigm we tend to keep ourselves in: that we easily follow what the majority tells us to follow, be it through the media or academic classes and conferences. That specific TED talk was about understanding what it feels like to be a person with autism, according to neurodiversity advocate Ethan Lisi. Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum “Disorder” at a very young age, Lisi decided to speak publicly about autism after his mother was recently diagnosed with the “disorder”.
“We are different. People are always afraid of what is different.”
– Cool Runnings
Ever since autism was discovered by medical institutions, society has perceived it as a mental disease, a pejorative attribute, a disability. Among other things such as anxiety and weight gain, autism was and is still used today by parents as a valid argument in order not to vaccinate their children. This particular myth goes back to 1997 when British surgeon Andrew Wakefield published a study about it in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal. However, the study has since been discredited for serious procedural errors, unethical conduct and financial conflicts of interest, which then led to Wakefield losing his medical license. Nonetheless, the hypothesis was taken seriously, and several other major studies were conducted. None of them found a link between any vaccine and the likelihood of developing autism. These concerns have also been fuelled by media propaganda thanks to the rise of social media platforms.
An example of this fueling can be pointed out with the creation of the trendy “Autism Challenge” on the fastly-growing platform Tik Tok during the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge involves young teenagers, as well as grown adults, mimicking people with mental challenges- specifically those with autism. The videos are usually combined with a Let’s Get Retarded parody song. Award-winning professional speaker Kerry Magro summarises it best when sharing his reaction on the matter in this video and article.
“Children with autism are colourful. They are often very beautiful and, like the rainbow, they stand out.”
– Adele Devine
According to Ethan Lisi, autism should actually be considered as a different way of thinking instead of a mental disease, shifting medical research towards understanding how autistic people think rather than trying to fix them. As an autistic person, Lisi views concepts like the neurodiversity paradigm, the social model of disability, and the double empathy problem as life-changing. There’s no way to prevent autism spectrum disorder, but there are treatment options. Early diagnosis and intervention is most helpful and can improve behaviour, skills and language development. However, intervention is helpful at any age. Though children usually don’t outgrow autism spectrum disorder symptoms, they may learn to function well.
“I’m free to be whatever I choose and I’ll sing the blues if I want.”
– Whatever by Oasis