Due to some comments made by Benedict Cumberbatch about people with autism, I must speak personally. It is telling that I am a fan of his, yet these statements he made are harmful to autistic people, such as me.
I have a few questions to ask him:
1) When you say your characters are not on the autism spectrum, and it is lazy to think such a thing, are you deeply insulted that somebody would even infer autism? If so, I feel insulted that you would think that-as if autism is something so horrible that it diminishes the affected ones’ humanity. Does it diminish my humanity that I am autistic? If so, you have deeply devastated me.
2) What exactly is so extraordinary and upsetting about autism? And again, does it make one less of a human being? I worry that I am less human in your mind.
3) What about the while high-functioning/low-functioning notions you speak of? Try and get that out of your head. Many of us have certain skills and passions that we excel at, such as spelling for myself, and possibly passing for neurotypical. Hopefully, the ability to pass as neurotypical (what most people consider high-functioning) does not elevate me in your mind. I would rather stay down with my fellow autistics to advocate for them-or should I say, advocate for us.
4) Another point of contention is the concept of arrested development and mental age. I do not believe autism is a mental disorder or intellectual disability, but more of a sensory or communicative one. I did not stop developing at any point in my life because of autism. I may have taken a longer journey than my neurotypical peers, but my development was never arrested.
5) I wish that I would not be viewed as an innocent, or a child. That would be fine for a child, but not for somebody who is just a year younger than yourself. Other than communicatively and socially, I developed normally in most ways. Would it shock you to know that I have had five boyfriends in my life? It would be tragic to not think I have capabilities or the potential, even, to become a self-sufficient adult.
Just so you know, yes, I am still a fan. I like to call myself a Cumbercookie. I think I will always be a Cumbercookie. But if you wish to improve your knowledge of autism, I would be happy to help. I think there is more you need to learn.