Last night, Anderson Cooper had a segment about autism. I didn’t get to see it, but it featured two autists who could possibly be described as “low-functioning,” “retarded,” “slow,” “feeble-minded,” etc… but for one thing. One wonderful, beautiful thing.
They know how to type, and knowing that, know how to communicate.
Now, before there was such a thing as typing, (or, frankly, before these people learned to type), they would have been written off (no pun intended.) But they were just as smart before they typed – the basic intelligence was there whether or not they could figure out a way to share it with anyone.
It brings it all down to this: presume competence. Presume understanding. Autistic people are not empty shells, or “normal” people trapped inside autistic walls – they’re quite simply autistic people. When offered the right tools and help they can navigate the world. After all, we all need help and tools. It’s just that the tools autistic people may need are different.
I’m told Anderson Cooper will have another segment on Friday, on CNN.