What if the World Stopped Seeing Autism as Abnormal? Many People with Asperger's Syndrome or Autism Embrace their Condition. They Seek Respect for 'Neurodiversity', Not a Cure
Even after Dawn-joy Leong was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in her early 40s, she felt there was something missing. The description was too pathological, too focused on the gaps. Everything she valued about herself, including how she saw the world – patterns within patterns – was called an impairment.
She didn't think she was impaired. She has challenges, sure: being in a crowded room is like experiencing a Wagner opera, a bombardment of sound from every direction. She'd rather be somewhere quieter, where she can distinguish conversation as if she is picking out the harmonies of a four-part Bach piece.
Leong, an artist, was researching autism in 2007 for her multimedia composition Scheherazade's Sea, which portrays her world from the inside out. Just like the famous storyteller, she survives the social world by spinning narratives others want to hear.
In her research one day, she came across 'neurodiversity' for the first time. A radically simple concept, coined by Australian sociologist Judy Singer in the 1990s, neurodiversity states that conditions like autism are natural brain variations, not brain malfunctions.
“Finding out about neurodiversity was life-changing,” says Leong. “I wasn't ill. It's just a neurological difference. It's like having a Mac computer operating system when other people run Windows.”
She stopped using labels like “high functioning” and “low functioning”. They define a person's abilities by how much they can mimic “neurotypical” behaviour – the name given to people with neurologically common brains.
For Full Story, Go To https://www.sbs.com.au/news/feature/different-way-thinking
Photo: Dawn-joy Leong wearing a red dress and seated on a brick wall next to her greyhound support dog, Lulu
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