Susan's Blog

Sunday, March 9, 2014

If We Didn’t Have a Hammer

My friend and fellow autism advocate Michael Forbes Wilcox has a fascinating mind that many of my readers would like.  Michael was diagnosed with autism/Asperger’s in his 60′s, and with that diagnosis, found a tremendous sense of relief. I hope I’m getting this biographical bit right but what I think he told me is that so much that troubled him about his interactions with others, throughout his life, so much of his difference, was now explained, and so getting the diagnosis was a watershed experience for him. Michael has never accepted autism as any kind of disorder or illness, but rather, as a clarification for his perceptions and sensory and social struggles.

I am mentioning Michael now because I don’t know if I have talked about his philosophies here, but they are very cutting edge Autism Thinking. Michael goes beyond neurodiversity in that he is one of the strongest proponents for understanding autism as a neurological difference, and so that any deficits people may have are part of that difference, to be dealt with, accommodated, learned from, or accepted — but not treated.

This latest blog post of Michael’s was particularly interesting to me because he takes a new bit of autism research done by Vanderbilt University, and he points out flaws in the study that the general public may not notice. Because Vanderbilt approached the study of autism as a disorder, as basically an undesirable way of being, they have nullified their findings. He points out how people with developmental delays have atypical development, meaning they may be faster to acquire skills in some areas, and slower in others, so that chronological peer comparisons do not apply here. Here is his best quote:

I think Wallace has distorted the role of sensory processing in autism. It’s not a “deficit” but one of the differences that presents many challenges in a world that was designed by and for NTs.” Amen. Or as Ned likes to say, “If all you have is a hammer, everything around you looks like a nail.”


Wow! Thanks for your support Susan!

— added by Michael Forbes Wilcox on Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 9:43 pm

There is something else I’d like to add about Down Syndrome and Autism for the sake of arnweaess. The average age a Downs kid gets an autism dx is 10 – even if that person has an involved form of Autism! This is because everything gets dismissed as being “just the Downs”, kind of like how my son’s Landau Kleffner Variant got dismissed as “just the Autism” and meanwhile he kept regressing into middle childhood.A fairly predictable indicator if a Downs baby will later be diagnosed with Autism is if he or she has seizures.Just wanted to get that out there, since it is not well know. Having a child with a dual dx that got missed for too long makes me rather passionate about the issue in general.

— added by Amanda on Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 6:03 pm