What if Autism was normal?
The other day I was thrilled to attend a local TEDx talk. It was the first one in our little town, so it was poorly attended and ended up being mostly videos, because some of the speakers couldn’t attend.
So that day I came home and spent a few hours on TED. And found a gem by Juan Enriquez, titled “Will our kids be a different species” (Sorry for not embedding the video – it just wasn’t working for me today.) Anyways, go have a watch. It’s nearly 17 minutes long, but well worth it. Then come back to my post, pretty please!
The video brought to mind a little story that was given to me at a workshop about inclusion. In the story, able-bodied people were no longer the “norm.” It was a city created entirely for the needs of people in a wheelchair, because that was normal. Doorframes and counters were lower. There were no stairs. Things weren’t modified for people in wheelchairs – they were made for people in wheelchairs. When someone came along who didn’t need a wheelchair, instead of modifying the environment, they modified the people – making them wear a harness that basically bent them in half, so they were the right size. It was a very interesting story for the idea it created, even though I didn’t agree with what the author thought would happen. Update: Here is the story online: “To Deny or Not to Deny Disability” by Vic Finkelstein.
My point is, that if you combine the idea in the video (mankind may be in the middle of an upgrade and perhaps Autism (just maybe!) is that upgrade) with the idea in the story (what if what we considered a “special need” was, in fact, the norm?) how could things look different in the future?
And then I had a thought that I had to put out to those bloggers who discuss Autism frequently…
If Autism was normal, and our NT brains were not, how would the world look? What would change?
I have a few ideas… I suspect that there would be severe noise laws, to make most environments quieter.
TV shows would go back to longer shots – minutes instead of seconds between screen changes.
Education would become either one-on-one or small groups.
But what do you think, Moms, and even those of you who are adults on the spectrum? How would the social, economic, educational and cultural environment change for a culture of people with brains that are wired differently from those of us who exist today? And how would they change the infrastructure to suit themselves?