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Autism: A social, not intellectual issue

Albert Einstein, thought to be autistic based on reports of his childhood and unusual behaviors, would not be considered mentally challenged.
Albert Einstein, thought to be autistic based on reports of his childhood and unusual behaviors, would not be considered mentally challenged.
Photo by Steffen Kugler/Getty Images

The word, “socially-challenged” may become the newest euphemism for autism. It’s about that time.

When a descriptive term that is neither positive nor negative, is used to hurt people, a new euphemism will usually follow.

The word “Autistic” is now being used as an insult and an excuse for abusive and rude behavior, aimed at the autistic community.

As difficult as it can be for autistic people to understand that they may have spoken harshly, made a poor choice of words, or picked an inappropriate time for total honesty, they are becoming the victims to the latest wave of political incorrectness.

The excuse for such behavior, is that the autistic person is believed incapable of understanding the words or that they should not be so sensitive.

Those who are able to communicate, face harsh criticism for social mistakes. For many, this criticism is so constant and severe, that any additional insults can push them into depression or anger.

For most autistics, the issue isn’t that they have nothing important or relevant to say, but that they don’t have the right words, or can’t use them.

Autism is not a synonym for low intelligence. Like everyone else, autistic people can be highly intelligent, average, or mentally challenged.

First impressions are important. For autistics, they can be challenging and often do not end well.

For neurotypical people, a first impression tells them, how polite, friendly and intelligent a person is. Stumbling for the right words, an awkward handshake and failure to make eye contact, show an individual who is mentally deficient.

Even if a change of environment, or a few minutes of non-judgmental conversation, could make a huge difference, the first impression is the one that sticks.

So “autistic” has become synonymous with mental challenges.

Many people have serious cognitive challenges, due to brain injuries or genetic conditions, through no fault of their own, but that is not the same as having autism.

So the time has arrived for another euphemism. The word “autistic,” must go.

Somehow society has determined that a cat is not damaged or deficient, because it doesn’t behave like a dog. Yet, it is not so kind with people who think and act differently.

As a result, the dictionary of political correctness will gain a new word, which will all too soon become an insult, for those who cannot accept diversity.