“Imitation is the sincerest of flattery”, wrote the English Cleric, Charles Caleb Colton.
Frankly, Charles, I disagree.
You see, during my younger days I was bullied because of my disability. That sometimes took the form of boys at my high school imitating the way I walked then, with one foot turned out to right angles, and also, as I recall, with a silly look on their faces suggesting I had an intellectual disability too, which is not true. Their perceived judgement about me and others with disabilities hurt.
So it was sad to see that other forms of hurtful imitation seem to go on.
This piece alleges that some parents are saying that their children have autism, when in fact they do not, in order to get financial help for other problems.
Clinical psychologist and manager of diagnostic assessment services at Autism Spectrum Australia, Vicki Gibbs is quoted as saying that here was a small group of people happy to have their children diagnosed with autism because giving them a label was the only way they could get help.
Really having autism is doubtless a source of misunderstanding, isolation and frustration that could have dire consequences if the conditions were made “right”. People who counterfeit disabilities are ignorant of this.
Could it be symptomatic of a society with double standards towards those of us with disability, happy to accept us if there are benefits, such as increased personal or organisational funding for education or employment, while actually not appreciating people’s real worth, and in fact wishing people with a disability were not around at all?
There is certainly a view expressed that the “avalanche” of students with autism-spectrum disabilities buries the school system under economic strain, with the corollary being that supporting the lives of students like these is financially untenable. I hope this is too harsh a call, but am yet to be entirely convinced.