Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Autism and Olympics: Not So Special After All

Ok.  I’ll give.  You probably want to help people with disabilities (or at least feel like you do).  The Special Olympics is hosted about a year or so, I guess.  I don’t keep up and you see why soon, but either way you have a chance to do something, you can go see the games, or you can volunteer with the event.  It seems everyone wants to do this because it makes them feel good.  So I guess you’re a champion, right?

            The fact is I think of participating in these games to be like confessing one’s sins to a priest, and then going out into the world to lie, cheat, steal, and all sort of profanity.  To me it’s like this: we’ve jumped over hurdles, we’ve thrown our javelins, we’ve swam several laps, we go back to our lives-now what do we do? 

            The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism says “We were asked to describe the three biggest problems for people with disabilities, and we came up with this: low expectations leading to inferior education leading to poverty.”  Still think you do everything right?  You think you’re the pinnacle of disability awareness?  Try and answer these questions:

1.       Which of the following is correct spelling?

a.       Aspergers syndrome
b.      Asperger’s syndrome
c.       Asperger Syndrome
d.      Asperger syndrome
e.      Asberger syndrome

2.       Which is the right way to speak of an autistic person?

a.       Person with autism*
b.      Person suffering from autism
c.       Autistic person*

*assuming an autistic person you are speaking in the presence of asks this.

3.       (Assuming you are talking about a person with autism, and their autism is not relevant to the discussion) How do you refer to an autistic person in your class?

a.       Autistic guy (sorry for the gender specifics here)
b.      Girl with autism in my class
c.       Autistic person in my class
d.      My classmate/person in my class/person’ name/etc.

Well let’s see how you did.

1.       D.
A.      The person who discovered this condition was called Hans Asperger
B.      This syndrome is not Dr. Asperger’s.  It is possessed by over ten million people throughout the world.
C.      Syndrome is not a proper noun.  A proper noun would include words such as “Megan,” “Paris,” or “John.”
D.      Correct answer.
E.       I shouldn’t even have to explain

2.       A or C
A.      Some autistic people prefer this as it implies there is more to them than having autism.  If they ask you to refer to us like this in their presence, do so.
B.      Autism does not deprive a person of his or her dignity.  Most people with autism don’t view autism as the source of their suffering, but discrimination. 
C.      Some autistic people prefer this as it implies that autism is not some appendage that obscures a normal human being.  As with A, if they ask you to refer to us like this in their presence, do so.
3.       D.
A.      The person’s autism has no relevance to the conversation.  Saying “Autistic guy” in this case implies that their autism is the only important thing about them.
B.      Same as A.
C.      Same as A and C.
D.      Correct answer.  Using their name is especially correct as they are an individual who should not be objectified.

   Clearly you probably don’t know everything.  But you agree that you can make up for it by watching disabled people play games.  So basically the Special Olympics simply make you feel less guilty.  These games do nothing to give disabled people proper housing, assistive technology, equal employment, proper education, basic access to society.  So I hope if you do any of this, that it was worth it for you, because it’s really meant nothing for us. 

No comments:

Post a Comment