Autistic Kid Stacking Cans
Last week, during my usual Facebook perusals, I came across an interesting article by Wired about 12 rather shocking / radical ideas that may shape the future. While I didn’t agree with every piece there, I found myself enamored with an article entitled, “Recruit Autistics” by Drake Bennett. In this article, Thorkil Sonne proposes that people hire more autistics for certain types of jobs. He continues:
“In Sonne’s native Denmark, as elsewhere, autistics are typically considered unemployable. But Sonne worked in IT, a field more suited to people with autism and related conditions like Asperger’s syndrome. “As a general view, they have excellent memory and strong attention to detail. They are persistent and good at following structures and routines,” he says. In other words, they’re born software engineers.”
That’s powerful. Not only does Sonne insist that the returns on this lofty investment are grand, it also debunks the commonly-held practice that those with disabilities are unable. It’s tricky wording, but part of our job as educators is to look at the word “disability” as a description for only a part of any human being we seek to teach, whereas “unable” denotes that they’ve been incapacitated from any meaningful task or purpose. Thus, we need to focus on students’ abilities even when they’re disabled in one part of their lives.
Just recently, a Twitter friend announced that her doctor believed her son had Asperger’s Syndrome. After carefully trying to understand her trepidations about this syndrome, I went and did a little research on it and there’s a slew of some of the greatest mathematicians, scientists, and engineers with said syndrome. For some, it was hard to discern whether or not they did, but they showed the characteristics. In other words, they functioned in the same environments that others did with no noticeable difference, other than their genius.
This doesn’t just go for Asperger’s Syndrome, either. Many people with disabilities have helped transform the world as we know it, yet we haven’t gotten out of the system of ostracism of those who don’t function “normally,” whatever that means. In our schools, we figuratively throw children into self-contained classes just because we perceive something wrong with a student behaviorally rather than actually finding out if said qualification is true. A student having a bad day or not getting along with a teacher does not qualify for these type of classes, much like adults can’t apply for “disability” for forgetting their bus fare or their lunches at home that day. It’s rather inappropriate.
In the future, we should keep in mind and do more to study about persons with disabilities in the hopes that they too can participate in the building of this society and the next one. Without you knowing, they may already have …