Gender stereotypes have made us horrible at recognizing autism in women and girls

Published: Quartz (October 12, 2016)

In August, the National Autistic Society called on medical professionals to change the way they diagnose women and girls with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Ever since the term autism was first coined by Hans Asperger in 1944, it has remained predominantly, if anecdotally, associated with men and boys. As a result, women with the condition may be being overlooked, even as the public becomes increasingly aware of its existence.

I know this from firsthand experience. As someone who was diagnosed with ASD as a child and has written about it extensively, the majority of other people I’ve met with official diagnoses were male like myself.

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Jill Stein and Donald Trump are both linked to a dangerous anti-vaccine myth that just won’t die

Published: Quartz (August 3, 2016)

Green Party candidate Jill Stein likes to present herself as a pro-science, more idealistic alternative to Hillary Clinton. Stein has so far managed to stay out of the media maelstrom, but a series of troubling comments are making headlines for all the wrong reasons. One of Stein’s most problematic opinions resurfaced this week when her campaign deleted a tweet in which she claimed there is “no evidence that autism is caused by vaccines.” (The Tweet was eventually replaced with one that qualified her position as “I’m not aware of evidence linking autism with vaccines.”) Although she hasn’t gone quite as far as Donald Trump—the Republican nominee has openly suggested that vaccines cause autism—Stein’s statements are at best irresponsible and misinformed. They are also baffling, given that the Green Party likes to tout its pro-science credentials.

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Why I Write

Published: The Good Men Project (July 21, 2016)

I feel like answering a question I’m often asked about one type of article I like to write… in no small part because I am myself curious about the answer.

It’s been more than three years since I first started writing about my experiences as someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. The idea first came to me after it was reported that Adam Lanza, the mass shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was himself high-functioning autistic (another term for Asperger’s). At the time, I decided to go public with my stories because I wanted to demystify the condition and establish that Lanza alone was responsible for his actions.

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The Ableism of Non-Autistics

Published: The Good Men Project (July 12, 2016)

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had a handicapped parking space?

Obviously this can’t happen – the whole point of handicapped spaces is that they provide the physically disabled with closer proximity to buildings than the physically abled – but an equivalent is possible when it comes to social interactions. To understand what I mean, though, it is first necessary to explain a form of ableism with which high-functioning autistics (HFAs) are confronted every single day.

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Why “Finding Dory” speaks to me as an autistic man

Published: Salon (June 17, 2016)

There is a Yiddish word, verklempt, that roughly translates as being choked up to the point of near-tears without actually crying. If you grew up with a learning disability or raised a child with one, there are plenty of scenes in Pixar’s “Finding Dory” which will have that effect on you… and considering that quality family films about learning disabled characters are a rarity, it is refreshing to see “Finding Dory” rise to that challenge.

One scene in particular resonated with me: Dory’s parents, who recognize her short-term memory problems when she’s very young, are discussing whether she’ll be able to have a future. Her mother is hysterically crying because she’s terrified that her child won’t be able to make it on her own, and the father’s efforts at reassurance are as much for his own benefit as hers. Shortly thereafter she is whisked away in an accident, no doubt confirming their own worst fears.

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How someone with autism views all your ridiculous dating habits

Published: Fusion (June 7, 2016)

As someone with autism, I’ve often wondered if there’s anything I can do to make neurotypicals, the name for you folks in the non-autistic community, less unpredictable to myself. I pose this question not as an attack or criticism. It’s just that those of us with high-functioning autism—or Asperger’s Syndrome in my case—struggle every day with your seemingly illogical behavior.

For me, this question applies to every realm of socialization, but for the sake of brevity (and this piece) I’ve chosen to focus on dating because it forces me to be at my most emotionally intimate and vulnerable. Based on my own experiences dating neurotypical women and writing about dating with Asperger’s, I believe there’s still a lot of understanding to explore—but first we need to identify the underlying reason for the mismatch in emotion and expectation.

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Why I Write About Asperger’s Syndrome

Published: The Good Men Project (March 24, 2016)

When my first article was picked up by Mic in February 2012, I thought that my dream of becoming a political columnist had finally started to come true. I wasn’t wrong, but I never anticipated one turn that my career was destined to take. Although I still love writing editorials on political and social issues, I also find that more and more often I discuss Asperger’s Syndrome – a condition that I have had for as long as I can remember.

I write about being a high-functioning autistic (HFA) for three reasons:

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Being a PhD Student with Asperger’s Syndrome

Published: The Good Men Project (March 12, 2016)

Without question, pursuing a PhD in history was one of the best decisions of my life. Not only has it opened doors in my writing career – which, professionally speaking, is my one true love – but it has allowed me to interact with some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. The conversations that we have had both within and outside of the classroom have challenged my assumptions and enriched my mind, while the hundreds of books and articles that I’ve read have informed my perspective as a political columnist in ways that would have never been possible otherwise.

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