GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Only 10 minutes left to tell you that a) this is International Day of Persons with Disabilities (nice way of getting around labeling them handicapped or disabled – writing lesson here!), as the Swiss government reminded me, and b) Scientific American has a good article, “The hidden potential of autistic kids”.
Nothing spectacularly new in the article, and no, it isn’t about savants, those amazingly remarkable autistic people who make up only a tiny fraction of all people with autism.
It’s about the rest of us, who are seeing things from the other side of the fence, remaining open: “At the other, ‘low functioning’ side are people who cannot operate on their own. Many of them are diagnosed with mental retardation and have to be kept under constant care. But these diagnoses focus on what autistic people cannot do. Now a growing number of scientists are turning that around to look at what autistic people are good at.”
Let me give you a concrete example I shared with an online discussion group, meta-mito-autism on Yahoo, that I belong to, where I was talking about my 19-year-old daughter Tara: “the article caught my eye because we had an interesting experience a week ago. I picked Tara up at the place where she lives during the week, to spend the afternoon with her. I wanted to take a walk before we drove off, but she loves the car so I hid it in a parking lot a 10-minute walk away, where I’ve never gone with her. She does take a lot of walks there, so apparently knows the grounds (big), even though she’s been there just a year. I said I didn’t have the car, but she ignored me and set off in a direction we don’t usually take, then she proceeded to systematically check out each of the parking areas in the place, clearly looking for our car, ignoring cars that looked a bit like it. After 15 minutes she found it and looked at me triumphantly. That took logic, memory, recognition, in brief, orderly thinking. She could do it because it interested her ).”
Good night, another five minutes left to tip your hat at those whose lives are a bit different from yours and mine.