Autism Does Not Equal Stupidity

21 Sep

How many of you remember Tom Hanks’ star turn as Forrest Gump. Do you remember his second most famous line? I’ll give you a hint, it has to do with the title of this post…

Yep, that’s it: Stupid is as stupid does.

Merriam Webster defines stupid (adj) this way:

1. a : slow of mind : obtuseb : given to unintelligent decisions or acts : acting in an unintelligent or careless mannerc : lacking intelligence or reason : brutish

2

: dulled in feeling or sensation : torpid <still stupid from the sedative>

3

: marked by or resulting from unreasoned thinking or acting :senseless <a stupid decision>

4

a : lacking interest or point <a stupid event>b : vexatiousexasperating <the stupid car won’t start

My daughter may not be able to speak, she may not be able to control the way sensory input affects her central nervous system, and she may not be able to use the potty (yet, I hope), but she is NOT stupid. She has autism. Merriam Webster defines autism this way:

a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns.

Wow, I’m surprised The Princess’s picture isn’t next to that definition.

The Princess does not lack intelligence. In fact, she is extremely smart. She knows what people want and expect of her. Whether she can always deliver is another story. She also knows how to get out of doing things like any kid does. She is deliberate. She gets what she wants. She figures out solutions to every-day problems that stump us. If she sees that no one understands her, she takes matters into her own hands (ergo the dresser that went through a window—it was an attempt to reach DVDs that were too high for her reach).

Very few individuals with autism are stupid. They may not have the social skills or verbal ability that you and I do. And they may have certain odd behaviors, but none of that makes them stupid.

So the next time you encounter a person with autism and they can’t hold eye contact or figure out how the conversation goes; if they can’t speak or if they flap their arms…don’t be the stupid one and judge them. They are smart enough not to judge you.

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One Response to “Autism Does Not Equal Stupidity”

  1. Katherine September 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Well put.

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