The Quality of Autistic Lives

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In his article “Neurodiversity, Quality Of Life, And Autistic Adults: Shifting Research And Professional Focuses Onto Real-Life Challenges,” Michael Robertson begins by describing how, since the first diagnosis, autism has been characterized as a deficit – being autistic means something is missing – instead of an example of the diversity in human neurology. He states that “Academic studies adopting the deficit model have sometimes even characterized relative strengths of autistic people as deficits.” Majority of the article focuses on Shalock’s eight core domains of quality of life (self-determination, social inclusion, material well-being, interpersonal relations, rights, and physical well-being), and discusses the presence of each in autistic lives. Robertson concludes that research and the appropriation of adequate resources are needed to improve autistic lives. He lists purrent organizations and what they are researching, and ends by stating that more funding is necessary to end the deficit model of autism.

This article focuses on adult autistic happiness and well-being, something not often seen in modern mass media. Frequently, autists are portrayed as children, with ads appealing to their neurotypical parents or the general public. I believe that the source of this trend is directly related to Robertson’s description of the deficit model of autism. If autistic adults are through of as deficient in integral ways, organizations with this view would not want to waste resources appealing to this audience. From their view, autists cannot talk, can hardly control motor functions, cannot live on their own – they are essentially children, and children do not get to say what is best for them; their parents do. This viewpoint is extremely narrowminded – not to mention an inaccurate representation of the mental capacities of many autistic individuals. In a world with increasing acceptance of diversity, autists of all ages and capabilities need to be accepted for who they are – incredible examples of the diversity of mankind.

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