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Note to readers about offensive ads that may be shown above: Tripod claims on its registration page that users can choose the categories of ads displayed on their sites. Yeah, right, I ought to have known better than to believe that!  I thought about deleting this page, but because ads for quack cures, etc., clearly illustrate the extent of society's prejudices against the autistic population, I decided to leave it as it is.

 

 

 

PASSING FOR NEUROTYPICAL

 

 

Officially, we don't exist.

 

The hordes of psychological "experts" who regularly comment on the supposed near-impossibility of productive, independent lives and successful marriages among autistics, and in so doing blithely consign thousands of children to society's trash heap with every keystroke, haven't yet noticed that we're here.

 

That's because, after more than a half-century in hiding, we're pretty good at staying out of the experts' way.  We raise our children in quiet, secluded environments where their differences can often go unnoticed, just as our parents did when they were raising and protecting us.  We enroll our children in small private schools or educate them at home.  When they need counseling or speech therapy, we pay in cash, to ensure that no record of any neurological differences gets into the health insurance database.  And we never mention the word "autism" in front of our children.

 

We are likely to choose careers in which we can work with computers or in laboratories, thus minimizing our social interaction and the ever-present risk of employment discrimination.  We are not protected under the equal employment opportunity laws, and finding new jobs can often be difficult, no matter how excellent our references, just because interviewers think that we look or sound "weird."  Some of us have found it easier to work as independent contractors or to start small businesses.

 

How many of us are there?  Thousands?  Millions?  No one knows.

 

We seek out others like ourselves, tentatively, in the safe anonymity of Internet bulletin boards, taking the first small steps toward the creation of a fledgling autistic culture and community.  A new word emerges from the discourse: "neurodiversity."  We dare to dream that, some day, we will be able to come out of our dusty closets and be accepted as intelligent, healthy people within the normal range of human variation.

 

But until then… we, and our children, remain in hiding.

 

 

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Author contact information: undergroundaspergian at hotmail dot com

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This site supports the Cure for Ignorance Campaign, which promotes public awareness of neurodiversity and autistic civil rights by maintaining the following list of websites that discuss these issues.  More information can be found on the Cure for Ignorance page at Aspergian Pride.