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Autism and Mental Retardation

Are all autistic children also MR?

My Opinion:
All AS children are not also MR. I have a J.D. degree, which for those of you who do not know, stands for Juris Doctor. So you can call me Dr. Dana if you want to, because it is accurate.

While in Law School, I was on my school's Law Review. This means, among other things, that I was in the top 10% of my class. I was an editor my last two years there, which means I wrote an article for publication in our Law Review. My article was on the Constitutional Limitations of Free Speech in American Society, and included a discussion of several free speech issues that were in the news at that time.

In addition to my doctoral degree, I took and passed the California Bar Examination on my first attempt. I am now an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of California. I have been an attorney for almost 8 years now.

The description of flourescent lights, however, is also accurate for me. I can see and hear them, they drive me nuts. If I am in a classroom or work environment where I cannot get natural light, I get a massive headache within 30 minutes. I did pass the California Bar Examination while sitting in a very large room with flourescent lights, and altho I took Excedrin before each day's portion of the Examination (it is a 3-day exam), I still ended each day with a headache.

Also, looking at the diagnostic criteria for Autism and also for Asperger, I would qualify as either. The general difference so far as I am aware, is the timing of the acquisition of language, and I did not have language delay because I developed as a typical child until I was approximately 7 years old. So because I had no language delay, I would be considered Asperger rather than Autistic. But I do have several other difficulties that I generally see in descriptions of children who have an autism diagnosis, and not for children who have an Asperger diagnosis. Therefore, you can consider, if you would like to, that I am HFA and not Asperger, altho it really does not matter to me either way.

Altho it is true that some portion of children who are diagnosed as "on the spectrum" (a term, by the way, which I HATE), have some degree of MR, it is not true of all such children, nor do I believe it applies even to MOST children. I believe that any child with neurological differences, whether because of brain injury such as mine, or genetics or some other reason, will learn differently than other children, even differently than other AS children. And there are some concepts, at least for me, that I am unable to learn at all, such as various abstract concepts and the ability in many ways to read social clues. However, I do not believe that these differences indicate necessarily that the child is MR, altho for some children it may be true, but only that the child has difficulties in certain areas, which can be improved to some extent, even to the point of being no longer a difficulty for that child, by appropriate education. And no person is perfect anyway, we all have our difficulties and limitations, just some are more apparent than others.

You can consider that I am also MR, but then you would also need to realize that I was not limited to vocational training in my education. You can consider that I have brain injury but I am not autistic, but that still apparently has not limited my educational opportunities or final outcome. Just because a child is or is not autistic, is or is not MR, is or is not brain injured, absolutely does NOT mean that child should in any way be denied an education to allow that child the opportunity to develop into the very best person that he can be. A formal dx of any kind, does not mean the child does not have value and worth to society, and this is true whether or not that child has the ability to grow up to live independently. A child should always receive an education appropriate to his situation and abilities, and we should never give up on a child simply because he has a label attached to his name in his file.

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