The Invisibility of Black Autism

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Winnie
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Joined: Sat Mar 18, 2006 2:48 pm

The Invisibility of Black Autism

Postby Winnie » Tue May 17, 2016 9:32 pm

Really interesting article:

The Invisibility of Black Autism
05.17.2016 / By Steve Silberman

Clinical bias and ignorance have led generations of clearly autistic black children to be diagnosed with ADHD or even "mental retardation" instead.

One day in the 1860s, Mark Twain was crossing Illinois by rail on one of his epic lecture tours, when he sought some peace and quiet by retiring to the smoking car. He did not find it there. “A burly negro man on the opposite side of the car,” he later wrote, “began to sway his body violently forward and back, and mimic with his mouth the hiss and clatter of the train, in the most savagely excited way.”

For the next three hours, the huge man rocked, grimaced, and chattered excitedly to himself, all the while reproducing the sounds of the great hurtling machine carrying him and Twain across the great plains. The celebrated author of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” — as prone to racist assumptions as most other white men of his day — was offended that the impossibly loud and apparently blind “barbarian” (“as ungainly in build and uncomely of countenance as any half-civilized plantation slave”) was not forcibly silenced by a conductor or wrestled to the floor and put in chains.

It came as a shock to Twain to learn that this powerfully built former slave — whose name was Thomas Wiggins, and stage name was “Blind Tom” — had been the first African-American musician in history to play a command performance at the White House, for President Buchanan. But several months after their serendipitous meeting on the train, Twain became one of Wiggins’ biggest fans, sitting raptly in an audience in San Francisco for three nights running as the man played his original compositions.

Article continues: http://undark.org/article/invisibility-black-autism/
Winnie
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