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Aspies under the Social Model of Disability

February 11, 2008

Let me start out by saying that I am a diagnosed aspie (just last year). As a child of the 1950s and 1960s, I was subjected to all sorts of mental treatments for my supposed schizophrenia (the most common diagnosis of aspies under the DSM-I and DSM-II). Today, I am a tenured college sociology professor.

Although I have no problems with “diagnosis,” I think it primarily has relevance under the medical model, i.e., if one wants to receive some kind of therapy for being an autistic. However, the aspie construct works outside of the medical model, too, i.e., under the social model of disability. It has helped a lot of people come to terms with their lives and biographies.

In other words, the medical model is not the only game in town.

As I see it, difference (neurodiversity) is more descriptive, while disability is more relational. In other words, disability can be socially defined as a lack of enablement by those in power.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. chaoticidealism permalink
    February 12, 2008 5:17 pm

    Exactly. In the right environment, many Aspies are not disabled; but because that right environment is not the same environment as the one available to most people, these people are disabled–not by their own lack of skill, but by the environment around them. (The same could be said for deaf people using sign language–and it’s no coincidence that the Deaf culture is the first true culture built around a disability.)

    I do wish people would stop yelling, “Asperger’s isn’t a disability!!” It usually is; and there’s no reason to deny that because there’s nothing shameful or inferior about being disabled. Disability has a huge social component; and as long as you live in a neurotypical world, you can never get away from that.

  2. chaoticidealism permalink
    February 12, 2008 5:19 pm

    Another thing (sorry–there’s no edit button)… Self-knowledge is a decent reason for an official diagnosis, too. If you think you’re an Aspie, but you’re not completely sure, a second opinion is a good idea. After all, it’s impossible to be an uninvolved observer when you’re observing yourself!

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