Last year, Kathleen Doheny wrote at WebMD:
When billionaire Tesla founder Elon Musk revealed he has Asperger's syndrome on his recent Saturday Night Live hosting gig, many applauded his transparency and the ability to speak about a condition that's often stigmatized.
Others, while still appreciating the honesty, point out that Asperger's is outdated terminology. It is no longer viewed as a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the "bible" used by mental health professionals to diagnose conditions. Instead, it falls under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The DSM was last updated in 2013.
ASD is now defined by the American Psychiatric Association as "a complex developmental condition that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors." The association emphasizes that there is a wide range of abilities and characteristics in those who have the condition.
Tomorrow is Global Awareness Accessibility Day: an annual awareness day dedicated to improving access and inclusion in digital spaces for everyone out there who identifies as neurodivergent or having a disability. But today, a video is going viral of a senior Twitter exec calling Elon Musk a “looney tune”, “mentally handicapped” and “special needs” on account of him being autistic.
In a lot of ways, the leaking of this clip, rife with ableist slurs, isn’t even about Musk, but about how deep-rooted ableism remains even in 2022. It doesn’t matter that Autism Awareness Day was just last month, or how many people in the public eye share their diagnoses, or the number of books, movies and documentaries released about autism.
In Musk’s case, it doesn’t even matter if you’re quite literally one of the most powerful people in the world. The fact remains that for autistic people, we will still be seen as inherently “lesser” because we are neurodivergent.