Autism and Acceptance | William Stillman

August 18, 2014 6:47 PM

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"I'M NOT RETARDED I'M SMART NOT A MENTAL GIANT BUT I AM INTELLIGENT" These are the words that were communicated to me by a 16-year old young man whom I was visiting in his rural high school classroom on a crisp and wintry January morning. Like most teens his age, he took classes in keyboarding and computers, and was a fluent two-handed typist. But his classroom was anything but typical; it was for kids in Special Ed, and my new friend was autistic and virtually mute, a man of very few words. And yet the words he conveyed upon our first meeting were a declaration to belie his physical appearance in favor of presuming an intellect intact.

It was a credo I had heard -- or rather read -- from countless others before him; those who felt the need to qualify their unconventional mannerisms, vocalizations, and assorted neurological blips, disconnects and misfires by imploring, in essence, "Don't trust your eyes. This isn't really me. See p...

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