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?


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About Broot

Thoughts about learning and life that are lost in a sea of blogs.

9 responses to “What if Autism was normal?”

  1. solodialogue says :

    Oh my gosh! I forgot you tagged me on FB with this and I meant to watch that! I love TED talks. I will check it out today and come back! Getting ready for work & school – it will be a couple hours! You are so thoughtful and I’m a goof!! I’ll be back- as they say…

  2. Lizbeth says :

    I think there’d be rules and we’d stick to them and I honestly believe the world would be a better place. I have such a strict moral code (shocking, I know) and my son follows that. I can’t imagine half of what goes on today would be tolerated. But that’s just me.

  3. solodialogue says :

    That was the most AMAZING 17 minutes I’ve spent in a long, long time. So many very deep philosophical, ethical and social issues are raised by all the rapidly changing technology combined with how we are or are not able to process it all. Just WOW.

    I am not so sure that if the world were reversed, it would be any “better” though because, at least in my humble little trying to think fast way, I see most people as defaulting to what is easiest – perhaps there would be a reverse discrimination, perhaps there would be more understanding. I think really, that we all need some basic understanding, compassion and empathy (which I’ve found exists more in my autistic child than a lot of people I know!) to get along with each other –

    I cannot speak about what an autistic person would like to see change in the laws as the mom of an autistic child – I would better leave that to someone who lives with this daily. All I would say is that there are so many different manifestations of signs of autism that one person would be different from the next depending upon comorbid conditions etc. For example, my son has seizures but his type of epilepsy is unaffected by flashing lights. My son is hyposensitive to smell but others are hyper sensitive to smell etc. so I don’t think a “universal” change based on manifestations of autism would be in place.

    I must say THANK YOU for sharing this!! I will share again!! Absolutely worth the time and fascinating, for sure! xoxo

  4. Mary says :

    Artificial flavors and colors wouldn’t be in our food supply.

  5. MariaAna says :

    this is very interesting.. i was surrounded with children with special needs. I love their world, simple yet uncomplicated (we are the ones making it complicated — making them do stuff that normal people do..) they have their own special way of perceiving things that we ‘normal’ people don’t perceive.. its just beautiful. sometimes difficult to explain..

    if they rule the world, it will be a world of peace?, living the life as it is,, getting satisfaction from even simple things they receive, appreciating the wonders of the world with all their hearts. ..

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