Friday, 1 January 2010
I've just read a really thought-provoking post on the blog Autist's Corner.. The post responds to magazine problem-page article where a reader asks the Agony Uncle what jobs he can't do if he has Asperger's Syndrome. This is something I and other parents of autistic kids worry about: The Future: Will my child be able to live independently/ hold down a job/ have a relationship/ be happy? To some extent, the future is an unknown for all of us, but this is especially true if you are new to autism and worry for your child's wellbeing and happiness.
Stereotypically, and possibly because autism is a predominantly male condition, the jobs which autistic people are considered to be suited to or interested in are those in computers, science and mathemathics. This is because these careers deal in predictable outcomes and suit the traditionally-imputed rigid-mindset of autism. Also, they don't necessarily require socialisation. But what if you're autistic and not interested in computers? Or if you're no good at IT? And what if you, like many other autistic people want to be social?
What if your child is more creative than technical? Despite being autistic, Lyla is highly imaginative, to the extent that she seems to live in a whole imaginary universe that she makes up as she goes along. She'll often string together lines or stories from films she's seen or books we've read and pretend this is her life. It seems to me, that maybe this special kind of autistic intelligence is something to be celebrated.
So, it was heartening to read the list of famous people, diagnosed with autism, who have non-stereotypical careers. I've reproduced part of the list here (clearly these people are at the very high-functioning end of the spectrum):
Actors: Daryl Hannah, Dan Ackroyd, John Turturro
Fashion Model: Heather Kuzmich of America's Next Top Model
Musician: Ladyhawke, Gary Numan, Craig Nicholls of The Vines, Courtney Love
Playwright: David Mamet
Athlete: Surfer Clay Marzo, Marathon Runner, Jonathon Brunot
Photo: Lyla making a collage of Matisse's Snail @ Tate Modern