18 January, 2010

Ohhh buddy

Temple Grandin Talks About Her Upcoming HBO Biophic

A world-renowned designer of livestock handling facilities, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, and one of the world’s highest functioning autistics, the most recent chapter of her life is being written right now, or filmed to be more specific, in Austin, TX.

The grammar is annoying--the most recent chapter of Temple Grandin's life is a world-renowned designer of livestock handling facilities? How can a chapter be a designer?--but all in all, this is a pretty exciting sentence because it means that I'm like the most high-functioning autistic person ever, because I'm definitely higher-functioning than Temple Grandin. Actually that's a messed-up thing to say, because I think you should judge functioning by ability to carry out goals and not by passing, but by a conventional definition of functioning, totally, I win. And okay maybe they mean she's one of the highest-functioning people with Autistic Disorder--but I know people with Autistic Disorder who are conventionally higher-functioning than her. What the hell do they mean by higher-functioning? Oh right, they just mean that she's really accomplished.

What? I mean, when someone is writing an article about a regular person who accomplished something, do they call the regular person "one of the highest-functioning regular people?"

Unlike some people (or maybe I'm doing a strawman, I don't know), I do think there's a value to functioning levels. It is fucked up for me to go around acting like I know how things are for a nonverbal person, or a person who has more severe social disability than I do, or a person with an intellectual disability. I really don't like the queer/trans community (oh no not again!) because bisexual=/=gay and queer when your parents are liberal=/=queer when your dad is Alan Keyes and genderqueer=/=binary trans etc., and I think there are definitely instances of people who completely lack understanding of how hard stuff is for other people and just want everything to be an adorable melting pot. (I could go into more detail, but remember this is the stuff that makes me depressed.) But randomly messing around with what "functioning levels" means and making it mean eleven different things is not actually helpful to anyone.

In Mere Christianity, CS Lewis has a chapter where he talks about sin and goodness as it relates to a person's psychological makeup. He says that you can't tell from the outside what God thinks of a person because you can't tell how hard a person is working. He uses the example of a person who's terrified of cats picking up a cat for a really good reason. From the outside you might not be able to tell what a good thing they're doing. I guess I think it's important to keep this in mind when you're looking at pwds (or anyone, actually). You don't really know how hard someone is fighting against their impairments, and you definitely shouldn't decide that someone doesn't actually have impairments because they seem to be doing okay.

So I guess it's hard to identify severity because some people might fight their severity better than others. Or do a better job fighting because they have more support--maybe people only ever fight well because they have support. But I think that identifying severity matters, anyway. We should know how much of a force ASD is exerting on a person, right? Although in the end, I don't know if the force ends up equaling the severity, or if it's the end result. Like, the force of ASD minus how well the person does.

But if we're just going to identify someone as high-functioning because they're a brilliant scientist, regardless of what their ASD is actually like, then I don't see the point of going on about functioning levels at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment