Viewpoint: We need to recognize autism as a medical disability, not just a different way of being

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Image: Karen Higginbottom/HR

Advocating for medical research, former president of Autism Speaks Liz Feld has stated that one third of people with autism also have a seizure disorder, half suffer serious digestive complications, 49 percent wander, and more than 30 percent are nonverbal. 

Many who view autism as a difference or through the social model of disability claim that those issues are co-occurring conditions and not part of autism. However, as of now, there is no evidence that those conditions can be separated from a person’s autism. 


[A] study in 2015 concluded that compared to individuals with other disabilities, young people with autism have significantly higher rates of unemployment and social isolation. This study also included many people with milder variants of autism. There are some success stories of high-functioning individuals being able to find jobs through autism hiring programs; however, this success is quite rare. 

One way to solve this dilemma is to push for more medical research to find the causes of autism, while acknowledging that autism shouldn’t have to define a person’s identity. Given the aforementioned difficulties, there is no reason why a person has to be completely dependent on having autism to have a sense of self-worth. 

Read full, original post: The Neurodiversity Movement Should Acknowledge Autism as a Medical Disability

Related article:  'Profound consequences': Autistic people unable to tune out distractions, study suggests
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