Sunday, March 6, 2011

Is Autism Really a Disorder?

Until recently, scientists have been stuck on the idea that a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder means that a child's life will be filled with a series of deficits: difficulty with social cues such as eye contact and reading body language, problems integrating with peers and establishing relationships, and difficulty processing spoken language.

As a result, parents and researchers alike have thrown themselves headfirst into every effort or latest trend that comes along with even a hint of possibility of curing autism. But does autism really need a cure? A recent article published by Wired Magazine argues that autism is not necessarily a disorder at all, but simply a difference in the wiring of the brain, leading individuals with autism to function differently than a typically developing person would in everyday life.

The article also supports the idea that, contrary to popular belief, those with even the most severe forms of autism may not be as "trapped in their own worlds" as we had originally thought thanks to the internet and mass media capabilities like blogging and text-to speech software.

Take twenty-seven year old Amanda Baggs, one of the subjects of Wired's interview: nonverbal autistic but managing a blog and a YouTube channel where her latest upload has received over 100,000 hits. She's obviously onto something, and now she and others like her may soon turn the long-held opinion that those who don't speak don't understand completely on its head.

Read the full article here:

Watch Amanda Bagg's latest YouTube video: "In My Language":


  1. Yes autism, as in autistic disorder, really is a disorder. Ms Baggs is not representative of autism persons generally. My son is severely autistic and like other parents of severely autistic chidren I get very frustrated when someone like Ms Baggs is held up as an example of autism.

    The Canadian Psychological Association in a 2006 Senate brief found reported that 80% of persons with Non-Aspergers autism have intellectual disability. That is consistent with two CDC surveys in the US which found that 44% (2004) and 41% (2006) of all persons with an autism disorder, including Aspergers, had intellectual disabilities.

    Some severely autistic persons suffer from serious self injury. My son has done so on occasion. Some injure without intending to do so those who provide them with care. Some end up living in institutional facilities all their adult lives.

    Is autism a disorder? You're darn right it is.

  2. Of course it's a disorder. If your brain functions differently than the order that it should be organized in, isn't it DIS order?

    So by her definition, does that mean that anyone who thinks differently is actually normal, we just don't understand their language? By this I'm specifically referring to mental disorders like schizophrenia, etc.

  3. Um, Autism is a spectrum. Like snowflakes, no two children with autism are alike.

    I really think it is a matter of perspective. While my sons have their challenges, I don't view them as disorders. IT's just part of who they are. Sure, they have TONS to overcome, but we believe they will.