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Thread: Do People Assume Autistic = Intellectually Impaired?

  1. #1

    Default Do People Assume Autistic = Intellectually Impaired?

    I may regret making this thread, lest it degenerate into a drama-laden mess...

    But my question is as the title says.

    As I've stated elsewhere on the site, I've started working with an agency that's supposed to help disabled people find jobs, although my confidence in their ability to do so for me has fallen pretty low. I'm supposed to report back after I've seen the cardiologist and find out exactly what's going on with me, but I'm not sure I even want to continue with them. I mean, I kind of fail to see the point in having to go into an office every two weeks to look at the same job-search sites I can view on my own laptop, and you can only discuss what you're interested in so much with them...

    I almost get the vibe that these people think I am lacking in intelligence. I mean, take the son of one of the business partners from my dad's place of work. He's about my age, also has autism or Asperger's (it's considered the same thing now), and because he came from money, went to college and according to my mom, has a good job. Meanwhile, take someone like me, and you end up at an agency where they think you need to be ''assessed'' to find out if you like and are proficient at putting stuff on a shelf and where they ask if you are capable of riding a bus.

    Capable of riding a bus? Seriously? Meanwhile, I take big coach buses to the casino...

    Then on the other hand, you seem to have people who think autistic automatically means smart - like my mother. I guess it could be summed up as there are still many misconceptions about it. It's just not well understood by the general population, although you would think and hope that people who work with the disabled would be educated on the topic.

  2. #2

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    As a fellow autistic Kimba, this post spoke to my heart. I was, a few months ago, hospitalized for medical reasons for about a week. Of course, autism is on my record. As soon as doctors saw my diagnosis, they assumed I was lacking the ability to speak for myself. They refused to speak to me about my own health and instead would call my mother on the phone or speak to my (then, now ex) partner about me as if she were my caretaker and I couldn't handle myself.

    My mother changes her mind from day to day on whether I'm smart or the dumbest person to ever live, but she mandates that I am NOT in anyway disabled (despite having multiple disabilities) and will not be recieving disability benefits as that would be "scamming the system"

    I've met many many people who work with the disabled who are not at all educated on people like you and me. All my case workers in school heard me tell them my dreams and ambitions and literally gave me a sympathetic pat on the head and said "oh honey, you'll never do that. People like you don't even graduate high school with a real degree!" As if I couldn't understand them. Funnily enough, I graduated both high school and community college? And am currently at university. I've given up on asking for help because all those people do is hold me back sadly

  3. #3

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    I am also autistic and last summer I was referred to a similar agency by my vocational council and that agency only wanted to put me in a low level job like sweeping floors even though I hold both my Comptia A+ and Network+ certifications and I graduated with an Associates in Computer and Network Technologies with a 3.58 GPA

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  4. #4

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    I think that every child with a true diagnosis of autism or ADHD had the potential to bed incredibly bright. I can say from both personal and secondary experience though, that if that child is bored, they will start to slack off and be seen as dumb or stupid or incompetent. In my experience this dumbness or stupidity or incompetence is actually a lack of drive or challenge.

    Now, I'm not in any way saying that all children with ADHD or autism are brilliant, nor am I saying that any are dumb. What I am saying is that I think all children have potential. I think that children, regardless of diagnosis, have something to be unlocked within them. In some children it is seen and in others it's not. But in order to unlock this "gift," a child must be motivated and challenged. Any child can be bored in class; the same as any child can be in over his head in class. By placing children in the correct setting, they can thrive.

    This goes for adults, too, and just humans in general. If you put someone in a position they love and are passionate about, they are much more likely to succeed than if they are dragging themselves to work for nothing more than a paycheck. In the latter case, there is no drive, no motivation beyond money to thrive.

    Anyone can thrive in the correct situation and I think more people need to realize that.

    My treating people with "disabilities" or other "diagnoses" differently than we treat anyone else, we are not treating them as equals, as fellow humans. Everyone, regardless of any trait, deserves to be treated like a fellow human, with respect and kindness. I think if everyone did this a bit more, people would realize that people we see as different from ourselves are just as human as we are.


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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by KimbaWolfNagihiko View Post
    I may regret making this thread, lest it degenerate into a drama-laden mess...

    But my question is as the title says.

    As I've stated elsewhere on the site, I've started working with an agency that's supposed to help disabled people find jobs, although my confidence in their ability to do so for me has fallen pretty low. I'm supposed to report back after I've seen the cardiologist and find out exactly what's going on with me, but I'm not sure I even want to continue with them. I mean, I kind of fail to see the point in having to go into an office every two weeks to look at the same job-search sites I can view on my own laptop, and you can only discuss what you're interested in so much with them...

    I almost get the vibe that these people think I am lacking in intelligence. I mean, take the son of one of the business partners from my dad's place of work. He's about my age, also has autism or Asperger's (it's considered the same thing now), and because he came from money, went to college and according to my mom, has a good job. Meanwhile, take someone like me, and you end up at an agency where they think you need to be ''assessed'' to find out if you like and are proficient at putting stuff on a shelf and where they ask if you are capable of riding a bus.

    Capable of riding a bus? Seriously? Meanwhile, I take big coach buses to the casino...

    Then on the other hand, you seem to have people who think autistic automatically means smart - like my mother. I guess it could be summed up as there are still many misconceptions about it. It's just not well understood by the general population, although you would think and hope that people who work with the disabled would be educated on the topic.
    I would dare to speculate... that it's a matter of a stupid system or; at least one that is so bureaucratically confounded... it can't scratch it's own ass (or know when it's done)...

    The trick, in my estimation... is to be so very diligent - in not taking this personally. It's not you, that they are assessing (with any real meaning to it)... they're generally just plugging in data and, the programming produces what it thinks that you need or, are somehow more likely to be better at...

    You do make good points: I think there is some misconception/stigma... that Autism (the entire spectrum), is as an intellectual impairment... Also, that Autistic means smart... I'd consider going as far as to say that it's neither 'smart' nor, an impairment of intellect yet, it is differently-abled, just the same... that's fair, isn't it?

    Autism, does mean something yet, without getting into what normal means... it's up to you to learn ways of educating... what your autism means - to you and, to them... You have to reach these people!

    The most difficult part (I believe), is that you have to make personal, undeniable connections, with the people working those types of places otherwise, I fear, that it has about the same integration of importance and advocacy; as going through the drive-through... "would you like fries with that?"

    And, it may also be self-perpetuating... that though you are understandably frustrated and perhaps, dismayed... you must try not to shoot lasers at them, with what may very well appear as utter contempt...

    You might practice or rehearse (in a mirror?)... the things you might say and, the things that you wish to hear from them... as helpful, comforting words. It may seem disingenuous at first yet, I don't believe, that it reflects poorly, on your actual integrity.

    FWIW: I am quite inept, at getting around on inter-city buses... it confuses me and, gives me considerable anxiety yet, historically, I have demonstrated great intellect, horrid stupidity and, a fair bit of mediocre thought process and actions... Wisdom, comes in part from, knowing which of those modalities, one's self, is expressing at any given moment... made more complicated when... one's brilliance and ineptness, occur in the same stride...

    I hope this gives you something better to ponder...

    I've never been diagnosed as Autistic though, it's been speculated on a few times over the years...

    -Marka

  6. #6

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    I am not autistic, but I read the thread and I was moved, I sympathize with each of your individual experiences. I personally know that autism doesn't inherently equate to being mentally impaired or savant/intellectualism because I have been around people who are autistic and meet neither extremes. I don't claim to understand it because it is nothing I'm truly researched in, but we're all human beings with different lives with different challenges. Often it seems the most misunderstood challenges are the ones that were not chosen, but those that seem to happen by the lottery of birth or nature or whatever you care to call it. Sometimes this misunderstanding makes things unnecessarily hard on an individual person.

    a lot of people try to reach out and be accommodating to people who are autistic but don't realize they are using autism as a label to define a wide spectrum of people. A lot of stereotypes get built up through media (and that applies to all misunderstood minority groups in society.) However, to really be accommodating or supporting isn't to be either of those. It's to be understanding. Its to take the time to really get to know a person, who they are. Disabilities, Illnesses, syndromes, diseases, kinks, quirks and fetishes are not all a person is, its not all humanity is.

    I'm sorry you all have to deal with superficial people like that. Its belittling (no pun intended.) Everyone's a human, everyone's a person, everyone deserves respect.

    My question though is how can you help me to better understand your experiences with something that is completely foreign to me, so I can in turn help other people reach an understanding. I cant speak for most people, but if I'm doing something that truly involves understanding the challenges of another I'm not afraid to be told that my actions, or my speech, or my knowledge is wrong so long as it can be corrected.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marka View Post
    You do make good points: I think there is some misconception/stigma... that Autism (the entire spectrum), is as an intellectual impairment... Also, that Autistic means smart... I'd consider going as far as to say that it's neither 'smart' nor, an impairment of intellect yet, it is differently-abled, just the same... that's fair, isn't it?
    This is pretty much I how wish everyone would view it. In human society however, being ''different'' is generally not viewed favorably. If you can't blend in with everyone else, you run the greater risk of being stuck on the sidelines by people who do not accept you. And if your mind doesn't fit perfectly into the mold of what is considered ''normal'', now you're considered disabled.

    While there are very-low-functioning individuals with autism who really cannot get along in the world, I kind of feel like if humankind would just accept us higher-functioning folk as capable members of society who just do things a little differently, we'd be better off.

  8. #8

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    I have met folks with Autism. Some are very intelligent. And some are severely delayed. The sad part is society puts everyone in a general pool on how they view there concept of a label on a person.

  9. #9

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    This is essentially why I am completely closeted and tell very few people about being autistic. Unless you're a family member or my therapist, you probably don't know that I'm autistic. Hell, you're more likely to know that I'm an ABDL than on the spectrum as I have a handful of ABDL friends, but only one friend knows I have autism. If people find out, they pretty much immediately think "Oh, so you're retarded". If I say nothing and they don't know, I'm thought of as shy, nerdy, and socially awkward, but still neurotypical. But the rare times that someone outs me, they always immediately think less of me. Last time I was outed, on old friend basically revealed to a friend of his "This is Gsmax. He's an autistic friend I went to high school with", and the friend of his, she was completely dumbfounded that I went to a regular high school that wasn't Special Ed.

    I would never, even for a split second, consider mentioning this when doing anything related to job hunting. This is why I hate those Voluntary Self-Identify questions so much. Tell and immediately get thrown out (I'm calling bullshit on the claims that checking the box will not hurt your chances of getting a call back. They have hundreds of resumes to go through and are looking for ANY excuse to throw yours out. You seriously think they aren't going to throw out a resume where it's going to cost the company money, time, and energy? They won't even hire you if you have a black sounding name. If they have to worry about doing more work to hire you, forget about it. Sure, they'll never admit it. They'll furiously deny it till the cows come home and they're blue in the face. But they know it) or lie to them. Luckily, there's the option to decline to answer the question where you can deny and technically not be lying.

    But yeah, people totally will think that you're intellectually disabled if they find out that you're autistic. Maybe it's gotten better over the past few years and I just don't know since I never tell anyone and no-one knows, but I highly doubt it.

  10. #10

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    Autism is as autism does. And as a spectrum, it can do a lot or little. One of the challenges with diagnosing a thing like autism is that it can also become a catch-all excuse. I've seen quite a few people here on ADISC blame autism for various negative aspects of their lives or situations. That blame may or may not be totally legit. My gut tells me that "not" is quite often the case.

    My wife and I are fairly certain that our twelve-year-old daughter is "on the spectrum." She has, since she was very little, had unusual difficulty socializing and empathizing with others, and often seems surprised by the way others respond to her when she does or says things that come across as insensitive or disrespectful. At the end of this last school year, her teacher also let us know that she received the highest standardized test score in her school. We weren't all that surprised, as she's always been academically advanced (the opposite of me at her age!), and we've frequently heard that she loves tests and looks forward to them. At the same time, we've been completely hands-off with her in school. She's also a phenomenal artist, and prefers drawing by herself to just about any other pass-time. Friend-wise, though, it's complicated for her. Most of her elementary school friends were what I'd call "followers"--kids who looked up to her for one reason or another, and who seemed able to tolerate her sharp edges. They're all heading into middle school next year, however, and that's where most kids really start looking for their own identities. They actively resist the urge to become followers. I'm worried that our daughter won't be able to appeal enough to others' senses of self-worth to keep them interested in her. One-way relationships won't work for her anymore. She's slowly developing tools of perception that we hope will get her through, but it reminds me a bit of Spock on Star Trek trying to make sense of human emotions. Will she eventually just "get it," or will she have to consciously pull out a set of past experiences and connect the dots each time?

    I mention all that because it's clear to both my wife and to me that our daughter is very bright in ways that indicate some real potential in life, but is also strongly challenged in other ways, and we're (I believe rightly) concerned that diagnosing her autistic or Asperger's or whatever would simply give her an excuse--limit her desire to work through the social challenges and become effective with others. That's not what we want at all.

    Ant that's my biggest beef with autism diagnoses and the associated labeling. At the higher-functioning end of the spectrum, what might be seen as a challenge to be overcome or a puzzle to be solved can, with a single diagnosis, be reduced to a lame excuse. "Sorry for my shitty, empathetically void behavior. I'm autistic." All a diagnosis for us would really do is confirm our suspicions. For that reason, it seems rather pointless.

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