Saturday, June 21, 2014

Quick Thoughts: Coming Out Autistic?

Somehow I only manage monthly entries lately. Yet this is a topic I needed to touch on.

With the story about Michael Sam publicly announcing to the world that he's gay before the NFL draft, he's taking a commendable risk that the league is ready. We'll see if he plays well enough to earn a spot on the St. Louis Rams' roster. More than anything, this story shows how much progress we are making as a society towards accepting homosexuals. They are human, just like we are, and should be treated as equals.

So that brings me to this thought about another type of 'coming out' that flies under the radar, to an extent. People who reveal themselves to be members of the autism spectrum, or Asperger's at the very least. In September, actress Daryl Hannah opened up about her diagnosis and how it made her terrified; in some ways it stunted her career because of all the anxiety. One thing I admire is how one of us can pull off an acting career, which requires a lot of patience and presence. It may help when it's rehearsed lines and imitations of favorite actors. We mimic well.

Nowadays there are more people who are admitting that they are on the spectrum as the stigma has eroded. That being said, my concern is one about people overdoing the diagnosis and admitting to something they may not have. I have previously addressed a fear that too many individuals are claiming to be on the spectrum, although there is no verification, just the signs mentioned on the internet that are often co-opted by people scared of all forms of autism. Regardless, we can still take pride that people are less afraid to admit to the spectrum diagnosis, realizing the endless positives that come with the spectrum. People became comfortable once they noticed that it wasn't so scary, but rather just a different wiring internally.

It's a good trend to see people "come out" on the spectrum, and I hope it continues to be positive.