A Word About Autism

I wanted to write one last post for the evening to mention one relatively minor point brought up towards the end of the debate.  It was not something that affects me directly, but since my wife is a teacher who deals with these types of issues, it still offended me.  I’m hoping to update this post with the video.  I may have misheard.

Sarah Palin has a child with Down’s Syndrome.  John McCain said she knows what it’s like to have a kid with Autism.  Autism and Down’s Syndrome could not possibly be more different.  One is a physical developmental disabiility and one is a mental developmental disability.  They have about as much in common as a club foot has with color blindness.  Even that comparison is simply inadequate.

I find it quite offensive that John McCain chose to use this line of discourse when he clearly does not understand either issue.  It has the effect of drawing a line of false equivalence between two barely understood disorders when I’m sure those who deal with Down’s and Autism on a personal level would prefer clarity.

But again, this is not a personal issue and I don’t want to come off as too shrill.  I just think it’s important to bring up.

Update: Here’s the video.  He starts in at about 4 minutes, while swerving wildly between the lines trying to make his case for education reform.  I’m not entirely sure what he thinks Autism necessarily has to do with education reform in the first place.  It is true that Autistic kids have some extra needs in terms of their education, but it’s not because Autism is any kind of learning disability, specifically.  And it certainly isn’t Down’s Syndrome, though McCain clearly seems to think it is:


By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.