This week, the musical world is astounded. It seems that the amazingly talented singer, Susan Boyle has just been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
Non-autistic people everywhere are scratching their heads.
“How did she do it? How is such a feat possible?”
Meanwhile, those who live with autism and Asperger’s syndrome, simply nod. Collectively they say, “It makes sense now.”
The picture we have been given of autism is that the autistic person will always be an underachiever. Some even call it “brain damage.”
The common belief is that the person with intensive training and support might someday be able to hold down a minimum wage job.
While this may be true for some people, and a huge accomplishment for them, it is not the case for everyone.
What Susan Boyle has accomplished is an amazing feat for a singer. The world fixates on her “beating the odds” and achieving despite her autism.
Perhaps her accomplishment comes, not in spite of her Asperger’s syndrome, but because of it.
The same hyperactive senses that cause miscommunication and stress, can also enable the autistic person to focus on their areas of interest and pick up subtle details that most people miss.
Miss Boyle, for instance, might have a finely tuned sense of hearing that enables her to precisely match her vocal tones to the music, and hear when her voice is slightly off and quickly correct it.
The real amazement may be yet to come. Now that she understands her condition and can better deal with its symptoms, what will she accomplish next?
There are those who would like to wipe autism off of the planet. If that happened, would we lose an artist like this?
How many artists and geniuses of the past and throughout history have had to deal with this “condition” before it was a diagnosis?
How many aspiring Susan Boyles are quietly working hard at stressful, low-paying day jobs while some hidden talent is screaming to express itself, but they can’t get through an application or interview?
Susan Boyle is a treasure and a gift to the musical world, but she is not a miracle. She is living proof that with the right guidance and support, a person with autism can be just as successful as anyone else, perhaps even more.
Perhaps the time has come to stop fighting autism and start making peace with it.