Monday, April 18, 2011

Not Amused by Your Ignorance

So I just had a very disturbing conversation.  The person I had this conversation with is smart, well educated and interested in social justice. They are particularly interested in mental health and wellbeing. The conversation was going well. We talked about the need for more acceptance and understanding of those who are different. It all went really well until I brought up the Autism Spectrum Disorders. Then it became one hot mess.

Me: I think it’s interesting that people with mental disabilities are often overlooked because they appear “normal” This is something that happens with people who are high functioning autistics.

Them: I mean, I don’t know about autism. It’s like, you know, just a fad. 


This person is college educated and interested in being a councilor for people who have mental disabilities.So they don't really have an excuse to be so ignorant and backward about Autism Spectrum Disorders.

If you have a basic understanding then you would know that:

Autism isn’t the same as parachute pants and side ponytails. 

ASD is a real, under diagnosed, misunderstood condition that has an impact on the lives of not only the people who have the condition, but also their friends and family.

If Autism is a fad, then the discrimination I face for having an ASD is also a fad right? In a few years it will be totally passé to discriminate against someone for having a mental disability? 


Them: Well I mean when we were kids it all started out as everyone had ADD or ADHD and I no one had Autism, it just wasn’t talked about. And now everyone has Autism.  Everyone is different, it doesn't mean you have autism. You shouldn’t be medicating your three year old because they’re bouncing off the walls, I mean they’re three. That’s what three year olds do. I think if you have a problem you shouldn’t solve it by taking a pill, you should solve it through talk therapy.

So, do you know what talking to three year old with ADD is like?  It’s like talking to Dug from Up! 

Do you know what that is probably not going to help solve this child’s attention problems?
Talk therapy. 


Conversations like this aren’t a rarity, they happen often and they don’t get less disturbing. It saddens me to see such ignorance and backwards thinking in a peer. It especially upsets me when this person could be working with someone in the future who would probably benefit from a proper diagnosis and maybe medication. 

I don't have any real way to combat, or fix, or solve this problem. It's just frustrating. 


  1. Yes, ignorance is quite the opposite of bliss, isn't it? But, if you keep talking with folks who don't understand things, patiently explaining that difficulties like those experienced by people with Autism don't ever really go away completely, they may someday get it.

  2. It's really hard because this person said that they wanted to work with people who may have ASD. These are the kinds of people who I just don't want around me.

  3. You are fantastic!

  4. An old post, I realize, but I'm rereading your blog, and this in particular caught my eye because I was recently diagnosed (at 21) with ADHD and it's similar to how most people react. Because they seem to have your conversation partner's view that it is/was a fad and is therefore Not A Thing Now, while I'm trying to explain that it is awesome that because now I feel like maybe I won't combust and die after I graduate from The Place Where Everything is Structured For Me/college.

    Also, wanted to say thank you for writing your blog, I know I'm not the only one who learns from it. I'm sending the link to my friend, who's in school for special education and would no doubt love to read what you've written.


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