By Maxfield Sparrow
I am an autistic person who has been using the internet as a social prosthetic device since 1983. I was born in 1967 and began therapy in 1972, so the iPad didn’t exist and the only screen time parents worried about was the five channels of broadcast television available twenty hours a day. TV was fine, but my real passion was books. I was hyperlexic and from a very early age I had an unquenchable thirst for written language. My obsession with reading was considered pathological, and adults took my books away to try to force me to socialize with other children instead.
It didn’t work. But it is sadly common that those of us with developmental disabilities are held to higher standards than everyone else. As children, once we are identified, everything about us is scrutinized. Well-meaning adults, fearing for our future, hold us to higher standards of everything from politeness to academic discipline to the age-appropriateness of our interests to the ways we move through the world. We’re not allowed to “get away with” the things non-disabled kids do every day.