Saturday, March 22, 2008

"Quirk" vs. "Disorder"

Occasionally one's Google Alerts for "Amanda Baggs" turn up something BESIDES raving lunatics.

For instance, there's a young lady who calls herself Susan E. who I believe is talking about her son Isaac who, if I'm making this out correctly, has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism.

She writes of some of her son's "quirks" and writes, "And so we are back to the eternal question of what is 'quirkiness' (lovable eccentricity) versus 'disorder' (off-putting)."

Which of course goes back to my observation of autism being a condition with two "victims" - the "patient" and the "observer".

What fascinates me about this is that it seems people have entirely different reactions to other dissabilities.

For instance, Amanda Baggs' #1 Fan and his followers, given an entire menu of issues associated with some of their severely autistic children, seem to bring up one first that they have some concern over who will change their children's diapers once they're gone.

Well, would not they face a similar dilemma if they, God forbid, had a child paralysed in an auto accident or something of the sort? Might they not face such a challenge with somewhat more grace than their current situation that has their child afflicted with a condition that just happens to induce [[gasp]] socially unacceptable behavior?

A four-year-old with high functioning actism is practically a blank slate. Is he going to do "quirky" things for the rest of his days? Quite possibly. But keep in mind that one of those "quirky" things he might do is leave voice mail messages on his middle-aged SON'S voice mail prattling on about running short on paper towels when he's already stockpiled about 50 rolls.

High-functioning autism and Asperger's is like a box of chocolates ...

Well ... you know the rest ...



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