I have told Noreen’s story in the form of a lecture a number of times. Invariably, someone comes up to me and says, “She can’t be retarded.” A flat statement. Usually, they then turn and walk away, discounting everything. As if what happened to her is then not relevant.
Let me say that this attitude is bigotry, pure and simple. What is being said is that disabled people can’t be wise. What is being said is that wisdom is the domain of the privileged. White. Educated. Male. BUNK! Wisdom touches whomever it chooses. And it chooses all. If one takes a careful look at what Noreen knows, one will find a wisdom not contained in books, not taught in classrooms and not obscured by linguistic elegance. Yes, Noreen is wise. Yes, she is disabled. I fail to see the contradiction.
Dave Hingsburger, I Witness: History and a Person with Developmental Disabilities
Autistic people aren’t the only ones who get undiagnosed from a distance the moment we show the slightest sign of understanding anything whatsoever. This was published in a 1992.