Temple Grandin's mother Eustacia Cutler has issued a disturbingly harmful judgment of autism and autistic men in her article in the Daily Beast. Her article deals a serious blow to the push for more educated, informed opinions about autism and autistic people.
She starts with the archaic claim that autistic people think in pictures. Cutler uses her famous daughter as the basis for this claim, but it's not true for every autistic person. Even Temple Grandin admits she based this idea on how she thought, not how other autistic people think and has updated her presentations to include other ways of thinking, including what she calls "word thinking" and "pattern thinking." Cutler jumps to other conclusions about autistic thinking, like a lack of spontaneity and the idea that repetition means rigidity. So even on this very basic level of how autistic people think and learn, Cutler starts off with misinformation.
She then trots out the moth-eaten comparison of autistic people to computers, claiming they are rigid and logic-bound. There are plenty of autistic artists, writers and other examples of creativity, but Cutler ignores them. She uses the debunked claim that parents of autistic children have a divorce rate of 80 to 90 percent. It gets worse.
With no supporting data, Cutler claims autistic men are emotional 10-year-olds who only want to learn sex from actual 10-year-olds. With no supporting data, she claims they use the computer to do this. Incredibly, Cutler goes from "thinks in pictures" to "computer-like" to "emotionally stunted" to "must use the computer and children to learn about sex." These leaps in logic are unbelievable. There are absolutely no facts to support them. And Cutler offers none, just her assumptions combined with her "experience" and a single anecdote.
That is, I hope the leaps in logic are unbelievable. As the mother of an autistic son, I hope everyone who reads Cutler's article recognizes the complete lack of facts. I hope they recognize that these assumptions are completely unscientific and create immense pain and harm to an entire population of men.
What we don't need are more unscientific, irresponsible articles like hers. Autistic men already face discrimination in equal opportunity, housing and employment. Autistic children already face the prejudicial belief that they are just behavior problems. Autistic people, including my little boy, should not have to face a world of prejudice that equates autism to immaturity and violence. Now thanks to Cutler's article, the wall of prejudice towers even higher.