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We love the way this article helps us to understand the experiences people with Asperger’s or autism might have. It gives us an insight into the lives and perspectives of four different people, and addresses the question: should we try to draw the neurodiverse into a neurotypical world, or should we be aiming to help them thrive in their own way? The article also discusses the idea of activism through social media, which might be interesting for some of our students.

A different way of thinking (What if the world stopped seeing autism as abnormal?)

Dawn-joy Leong with Lulu

What if the world stopped seeing autism as abnormal? Many people with Asperger’s syndrome or autism embrace their condition. They seek respect for ‘neurodiversity’, not a cure.

Even after Dawn-joy Leong was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in her early 40s, she felt there was something missing. The description was too pathological, too focused on the gaps. Everything she valued about herself, including how she saw the world – patterns within patterns – was called an impairment.

She didn’t think she was impaired. She has challenges, sure: being in a crowded room is like experiencing a Wagner opera, a bombardment of sound from every direction. She’d rather be somewhere quieter, where she can distinguish conversation as if she is picking out the harmonies of a four-part Bach piece.

Leong, an artist, was researching autism in 2007 for her multimedia composition Scheherazade’s Sea, which portrays her world from the inside out. Just like the famous storyteller, she survives the social world by spinning narratives others want to hear.

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What have been the most useful resources you’ve found for understanding or supporting students with Asperger’s syndrome or autism?

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