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Empowering People, Launching lives

‘The acceptable autistic’

Author: BeyondAutism Intern


7th December 2023 | 3 mins read

There is a common misconception that autistic individuals possess an extremely high intelligence level or an extraordinary skill. This misconception can lead to autistic people feeling like they are only valuable in society if they possess such a ‘savant’ skill.

This assumption is deeply flawed and stems from a limited understanding of autism. It perpetuates the notion that autistic people are only valuable if they fit into a narrow set of characteristics or abilities. Such a belief not only fails to capture the true diversity and complexity of the autistic population but also creates unrealistic expectations for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Autism is a neurodevelopment condition that manifests differently in each person. While some autistic individuals may indeed demonstrate exceptional talents or abilities in certain areas, such as mathematics, music, or memory, it is crucial to recognise that these savant skills are not representative of the entire autistic community. They are observed in only a small percentage of individuals on the spectrum.

By placing undue emphasis on savant skills as the measure of worth or value, society inadvertently devalues the vast range of other talents, strengths, and contributions that autistic individuals possess. It marginalises those who do not exhibit these abilities and perpetuates a sense of inadequacy among them or by outsiders’ perception.

Autistic individuals, like anyone else, have diverse skills, interests, and capabilities that extend far beyond the narrow perception of intelligence often associated with autism. They excel in fields such as arts, sports, literature, advocacy, and many others.

Unfortunately, in mainstream media, such individuals are non-existent as they are not ‘extraordinary’ enough to be seen as notable, which does bring into question society’s inherent nature of discomfort towards autism and the avoidance of humanising those with it; doing so prevents the ugly truth of intolerance.

Despite this harsh reality, it hasn’t prevented autistics from achieving and being an inspiration for the community.

Notable Examples

It is essential to move beyond the limited notion of what constitutes value in society and embrace the holistic understanding of autistic individuals. Instead of solely focusing on savant skills, it is crucial to appreciate and celebrate the rich tapestry of talents, abilities, and potential that exists within the autism spectrum.

By doing so, we can foster a more inclusive and accepting society that recognises the inherent worth and dignity of every autistic individual. We can create an environment that nurtures their strengths, supports their needs, and provides equal opportunities for growth, success, and fulfilment in various areas of life.

Let us challenge the misconception that autistic individuals must fit a specific mould to be seen as valuable. Instead, let us appreciate and embrace the unique qualities and contributions of every person on the autism spectrum. By doing this, we can create a society that truly values the diversity and potential of all its members, regardless of neurodivergence.

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