Reflection in the mirror

How Should We View Autism?

by Kimberly on February 2, 2011 · 7 comments

There’s an alien living in Ohio.

Well, not really, but the blogger at Reports from a Resident Alien calls herself…well, a “resident alien.” And she admits in her tagline that “(t)his ‘Earth’ place sure is weird.”

Reports from a Resident Alien is one of my favorite blogs. Chaotic Idealism (her user name) lives with autism and blogs about–in detailed and beautiful ways–what it’s like to be “different.” It gives a neuro-typical like me (again, her phrase…brilliant, don’t you think?) some insight into how her brain and how she herself functions.

Chaotic Idealism wrote a post recently on the social bias NTs like me have towards people like her. It’s an insightful piece, but the sentence that really stood out for me was:

Actually, autism is not a social disorder or a communication disorder; it’s a neurodevelopmental disorder that means a different cognitive style.

Viewing Autism Differently

This sentence reminded me of a post I wrote this summer stating that a disability is only a difference. Instead of focusing on what a person can’t do, it can help to realize that there are a lot of things they can do. They just have a different way of perceiving and/or processing the world around them.

What I like about Chaotic Idealism’s sentence above is that she admits and owns the fact that, yes, she DOES have a disability.

She also realizes that it’s not something that can, or even should, be “fixed.” Something wrong happened in how her brain developed that caused her to think and view the world differently than most people do. Having autism is something she has to live with. She has to figure out adaptations that will help her function and live amongst us neuro-typicals.

I don’t think this idea is anything you or I would disagree with. But I think it’s important to periodically be reminded to be aware of how we perceive our clients and their disorders.

And what better way than to hear–or read–about it from someone who actually has a disability.

Final Music Therapy Advocacy Articles

Unless you’re brand-new to the Music Therapy Maven (and if so, then WELCOME!), you know that January was devoted to music therapy advocacy. I am very happy and excited to report that 28 music therapy bloggers and podcasters published a total of 56 articles!

Several were published within the last week; here’s the final articles I invite you to explore and check out:

P.S. Guess what? This month, Music Therapy Maven celebrates turning two! Woo-hoo!!! As such, I’ll be rolling out a couple of cool “events,” so be sure to stay tuned 🙂


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Renee White February 2, 2011 at 12:36 pm

As someone who works with individuals with ASD I have to agree. I have learned many valuable lessons for my own life through my clients unique perspectives. As a music therapist working with this population my words quickly move from treat to support. 🙂

CJ Diachenko February 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm

great post Kimberly! C.I.’s blog is one of my favorites. Here’s a trailer for the word “neurotypical” that some good friends of mine have been working on.


Barbara OT & PT February 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I only recently viewed the movie “Temple Grandin” and I highly recommend it!

Adults on the spectrum who blog and share their perspectives are an invaluable resource to parents of children with autism, and to those of us who work to help them.

Kimberly February 16, 2011 at 11:52 am

@CJ Thank you for sharing that trailer! “Neurotypical” is a great description, isn’t it? @Renee That’s a great paradigm shift…”from treat to support.” Thank you for sharing 🙂

Cathy March 4, 2011 at 8:16 pm

I also found the movie, Temple Grandin, fascinating. It helped me see autism from a different viewpoint. I actually watched it twice. The DVD has the option of playing the movie with “the real Temple Grandin” adding commentary.

Kimberly March 11, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Temple Grandin is a professor at CSU, one of my alma maters. I never had a class with her, but did take a class in one of the buildings where she taught and saw her regularly. I, too, am very interested to see that movie! ~Kimberly

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