We were waiting for the elevator, the two of us, a family with a stroller, and a man in his thirties. It was taking some time for the elevator to come. The fellow began getting a little distressed and, eventually, grumbled loudly at the elevator for being slow and then took off. We all got on and rode up in silence. On getting off one of the parents said to the other, "he probably had autism." I said, "Oh, do you work with people who have disabilities?" "No," she said, "but I read the papers and keep up with the news."
I'm wondering if 'Autism' is becoming the 'go to' explanation for any unexplained behaviour in strangers who are acting a little strange. I'm wondering if the explosion of information about Autism doesn't actually contain anything much in the way of 'information.' Given diagnostic abilities from the media people will be able to determine that:
A man, rushing to meet a friend for a movie, is frustrated at the elevator taking times. Grumbles at how slow it is and then runs over to bound up the escalator. Autistic.
A teen pacing back and forth, agitated, waiting for the taxi to take him to see his sister who'd been rushed to the hospital. Autistic.
A kid throwing a tantrum of any kind. Autistic.
I spoke once, a week ago, with a mother who talked to me about her worry that autism and the reputation of people with autism is being predicated upon every socially inappropriate or socially distinctive behaviour being attributed to it. "There's a lot of awareness about the 'word' autism but very little awareness of or interest in the life of people with autism themselves."
The public loves to diagnose difference.
Pity they're so bad at it.