Thursday, 6 June 2013


Humpty Dumpty lives

This morning I received the online summary of this month's issue of SEN Magazine, in which an advert particularly caught my eye. This was for an 'international conference' on autism and Asberger's, that promised inter alia
Dr Wendy Lawson, psychologist, counsellor, lecturer and author, also on the autism spectrum.
Steeling myself, I followed up the link provided for further details, and found –
A psychologist, counsellor, lecturer and author, being on the autism spectrum, Dr Wendy Lawson is passionate about the rights of those who so often cannot speak for themselves and aims to promote justice and equality for all. Wendy is proud of her autism. Being awarded fourth place as ‘Victorian Australian of the year’ in 2008, Wendy knows what it means to represent others and advocate on their behalf. The mother of four children, two of her sons are also on the autistic spectrum.
Having written numerous papers and books on the topic, Wendy is committed to enlightening all those who are willing to hear and to see, just how those of us on the spectrum learn and love, the best.
'There has never been a better time to be autistic. I am excited with the current technological advances that are helping us connect to and understand the world we all share.'
          (purple in original)

That was enough. I fled to the shops, and picked up a copy of New Scientist, a magazine that (putting it mildly) is usually all at sea when dealing with the human mind. This week, however, it really has hit the pits of uncritical science journalism.
Are we on the cusp of an autistic revolution? German software giant SAP has declared that it intends to gain 'a competitive advantage' over its rivals by actively employing people with autism spectrum disorder.
We are seeing the rise of autism, says Ari Ne'eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network in Washington DC and a member of the US National Council on Disability. Indeed, while conditions like autism have historically hindered jobseekers, several global companies have now caught on to the idea of utilising the particular skill set this section of society can offer.
SAP announced last week that it will employ 650 people with autism by 2020. This is approximately 1 per cent of its total workforce, which roughly reflects the frequency of autism in the general population. It will work with Danish company Specialisterne, a consultancy that employs software testers and programmers who have autism.
While the move is a positive one for many, it is important to note that autism exists on a spectrum, and a large number of people who have the condition would not find such jobs suitable. Neither should it diminish the need for more research. It does however signal a greater acceptance of autism within society.
and much, much more:
'Autistic' has become one of those Humpty Dumpty words that means just what a speaker or writer chooses it to mean – charming enough perhaps in a fairy story, if you like that sort of thing, but no basis for serious consideration of the realities of human life.

How do people get away with this stuff?


(2013) Communication: The Key to Success, SEN Newsletter, June

Hodson, H. (2013) Rise of the autistic workforce, New Scientist, 29 May

Coming shortly

Next month's issue of SEN Magazine, it is announced, will include a feature on cerebral palsy.

No comments:

Post a Comment