It isn’t often I climb aboard my soapbox but occasionally somebody pushes ALL my buttons and this week that person is Camilla Long.
Camilla writes for the Sunday Times. She’s also an expert on autism, or so she thinks..
On September 23rd, she tweeted this:
Firstly, Camilla is implying that you can tell if a person is autistic or not by how they look.
Secondly, she seems to be confusing autism with a disease.
Thirdly, she thinks she has the necessary qualifications to diagnose autism.
I am autistic and I do NOT ‘suffer’ with autism. However, I DO suffer with the uneducated opinions of Camilla and her ilk.
At the time of writing this post there are 470 comments in response to that tweet – mostly from an irate autistic community who have rightly taken offence to the statement, “An insult to real sufferers”.
@plannergeddon tweeted: I think it’s called spectrum for a reason.
‘Dr’ Long replied: “I think it’s bollocks”
No. What’s bollocks, Camilla, is people like you coming out with uneducated SHIT like that. You have 62’000 followers – some of whom will be stupid enough to take the drivel you write as fact.
When it comes to ‘suffering with autism’, I don’t ever recall saying to my OH,’ My autism isn’t half giving me gyp today. I’m really fucking suffering’.
I suffer with how people treat me because I’m different.
I suffer with anxiety caused by the stress of living in a neurotypical world.
I suffer because people can be utter arseholes at times.
I do not suffer with autism.
Autistic people are working hard to spread awareness of what’s it’s like to be autistic and ONLY autistic people can do that. If want to have a better understanding about autism, listen to autistic people. Don’t listen to idiots like Camilla who think that you can’t possibly be autistic unless you are Raymond Babbitt aka Rain Man.
To be clear, Camilla Long does NOT speak for me.
‘Dr’ Long is dismissive of Gary Numan being autistic. Why? Because he doesn’t have an official diagnosis.
Oh, well that’s that then! The voice of authority (not) has spoken.
Speaking to Autism Connect, Gary said: “I had some problems during my school years and, after many trips to a Child Psychologist, it was suggested that I had Asperger’s. I’ve never known for sure but I’ve always accepted that to be the case.”
“Some people seem concerned about it but I have always seen it as a positive thing. Yes, I’m somewhat awkward socially, but that seems a small price to pay for the advantages that come with Asperger’s.”
“I’m obsessive, but that’s a vital and useful trait for people in the music business. I’m driven and highly focused on things that I’m interested in, like my musical career.”
“A child psychiatrist at St Thomas’ Hospital in London suggested it might be Asperger’s. At 15, I was put on Valium and Nardil for about a year but as my mum hadn’t heard of the condition she thought the diagnosis was an insult to her parenting so we stopped seeing the psychiatrist and it was brushed under the carpet.”
An interview in The Guardian:
“I’m fine doing interviews and meeting fans because all I do then is talk about me but at functions where I have to talk to people about normal things, I’m rubbish.”
“The only downside is that I’m pretty awkward when interacting with strangers. I find being around a lot of people uncomfortable and I’m easily intimidated by the unpredictable nature of people.
“I often talk too much and I have a problem with eye contact. When I talk to people face-to-face I count how long I’ve been looking at their eyes so I know when to look away. It’s mechanical, not natural. There are a number of little things like that which I employ.”
If Gazza doesn’t have Aspergers, I’ll eat my diagnosis papers. WITH CHIPS!
Incidentally, Are Friends Electric was the first record I ever bought and it’s apt because most of my friends are online. I loved our Gary Numan and his face paint. I got that he was different (like me) and that it wasn’t all for show.
Gary is content to self-diagnose and self-diagnosis is valid. Often, just knowing that you are autistic is enough. I self-diagnosed for four years before I was referred for assessment. A DX is a professional validating what you already know. A diagnosis is important for children to be able to access support but when older people are diagnosed, they usually have a lifetime of coping skills behind them so there is little to be gained from official diagnosis. I know people who are self-diagnosed and they are happy to remain so. As far as I am concerned their experience is no less valid because they don’t have a piece of paper that says ASD or Aspergers Syndrome on it.
Gary knows he is autistic and that’s all that matters, NOT the opinion of some trumped-up columnist.
Camilla could have used her 62K following to educate people about autism but instead she chose to spread ignorance. The woman doesn’t even have a basic understanding of autism so who the chuff is she to decide who is or isn’t autistic?
I’ll close this post with one of my Twitter favorite responses to her tweet…
We are autistic. Not fucking “sufferers” Get back in your own lane and STFU until you’ve learnt something about autism – @andreadonstar