I just saw this when I checked my newsfeeds...wanted to spread the word in case others want to see this that weren't already aware. (If this hasn't already been posted to any disability/autism-related comm, go ahead and let them know -- I never have the spine to post there anyway.)
The Gimp Parade: On CNN's Anderson Cooper show tonight: Amanda Baggs of Ballastexistenz
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a medical corresondent at CNN will interview Amanda Baggs on the Anderson Cooper show tonight, 10 P.M. Eastern time. From Gupta's blog:
She taught me a lot over the day that I spent with her. She told me that looking into someone's eyes felt threatening, which is why she looked at me through the corner of her eye. Amanda also told me that, like many people with autism, she wanted to interact with the entire world around her. While she could read Homer, she also wanted to rub the papers across her face and smell the ink. Is she saw a flag blowing in the wind, she might start to wave her hand like a flag. She rides in a wheelchair, she says, because balancing herself while walking takes up too much energy for her to also type and communicate. To an outside observer, the behaviors would seem eccentric, even bizarre. Because Amanda was able to explain them, they all of a sudden made sense. In case you were curious, there is no possible way that I was being fooled. Amanda, herself, was communicating with me through this voice-synthesis technology.
It really started me wondering about autism. Amanda is obviously a smart woman who is fully aware of her diagnosis of low-functioning autism, and quite frankly mocks it. She told me that because she doesn't communicate with conventional spoken word, she is written off, discarded and thought of as mentally retarded. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I sat with her in her apartment, I couldn't help but wonder how many more people like Amanda are out there, hidden, but reachable, if we just tried harder.
CNN: Living with autism in a world made for others
CNN: Why we should listen to unusual voices (by Amanda, to the 'Anderson Cooper 360" blog)