The Danger in the Alek Minassian Autism Defence

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As an autistic person, I’ve seen first-hand how the willful misunderstanding and manipulation of an autism diagnosis negatively impacts our community

I was diagnosed with autism at 27. There are a number of complex and intersecting reasons why it took so long, but the short version is that I didn’t fit any of the stereotypes of an autistic kid when I was growing up in the 1980s and ’90s. I certainly exhibited a number of textbook symptoms—overwhelming sensory sensitivities, narrowly focused interests in subjects like the Titanic, painful struggles with socialization—but I was also a girl (boys are diagnosed with autism at four times the rate) and empathetic to the point where I once felt so deeply for a fictional character that I cried until I vomited. 

Like most aspects of autism, our relationship with empathy is oversimplified and…

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