25 January, 2012

purple ears

I think autism is a real thing, mostly because I seem to have a lot in common with a lot of other people I know who were diagnosed with autism, especially people who were diagnosed when they were kids. So I guess what I mean is that I think there is a group of people who have a similar disability and often get the same label. But because most professional opinion on autism doesn’t really relate to what my actual disability is like, I kind of don’t think autism is a real thing, at the same time.

It’s kind of like if most gay people had purple ears--not necessarily their whole life, but at some point, maybe when they were a kid. Some gay people would have purple ears their whole lives though. Some gay people would only have purple ears for a minute and it would be hidden under their hair. A few gay people wouldn’t have purple ears ever.

I can see why professionals might get very focused on studying why some people have purple ears, and even why some people might find it important to their identity, and I can even imagine going around and using “purple ears” as a synonym for being gay, especially if being gay took a long time to explain--but this doesn’t mean that purple ears are actually the important thing that’s going on. Being gay is what’s actually going on, and it’s what people with purple ears have in common that’s more permanent and important than the color of our ears.

(Purple ears equals diagnosis of autism or maybe more specifically the kind of surface attributes that lead someone to get diagnosed with autism.)


  1. I feel quite similarly. This reminds me of a big long post I want to make about internet community autism vs. medical autism vs. pop-cultural autism.

  2. This reminds me of the ideas I've seen floating around that autistic children have long eyelashes. . . or pretty eyes. . .

  3. Jim: I remember reading in my abnormal psych textbook something about autistic children often being unusually "attractive." Which struck me as bizarre even back then.

  4. It reminds ME of this amanda baggs post: about the diagnostic process and how they focus on certain things arbitrarily:

    By the way, lux aeturna, I read that somewhere too.

  5. I'll be commenting here with my Google account, fyi, because Blogger doesn't seem to like to let me comment as "drawswithpens."