A Second Life with autism
Updated on 09 August 2007
Autism: it's not a disability - but a way of life. That's how some people with the condition are challenging the conventional view.
New research suggests as many as one in 58 children may have autism.
Now, autistic people are using the internet to fight for their right to be accepted as they are - rather than be treated or cured.
Amanda Baggs, an autism campaigner from Vermont, is unable to speak because of the condition. She communicates entirely by computer.
But a film she made, called 'In My Language' has become a hit on YouTube - over 250,000 people have watched it.
In the online virtual world of Second Life, she has founded a group called the Autistic Liberation Front. They believe that autism is not a disease which needs to be treated - but just a form of cultural difference.
'There's a real concern that if it is seen as just a personality trait ... individuals won't be able to get the support and the help that they need so badly.'Carol Povey, Head of Adult Services at the National Autistic Society
The National Autistic Society worries that this is approach could actually work against the best interest of autistic people.
"There's a real concern that if it is seen as just a personality trait, extreme shyness, a different way of functioning, then individuals won't be able to get the support and the help that they need so badly," Carol Povey, Head of Adult Services at the National Autistic Society, told More4 News.
"It takes the emphasis away from their very complex needs, and the fact that they need funding, they need support, and they need assistance to be able to live the sort of life that most of us would expect."