I enjoyed reading “Behind the Lens” [Aug. 8], the article about a local photographer who had met a professional mentor. I felt disappointed and concerned by the caption to the main photograph, which read, “Despite having autism, he is already an accomplished photographer.” Many people with autism and those who love them find that it is precisely because of their neurodiversity that they have unique gifts. Temple Grandin, Dan Aykroyd, Darryl Hannah, Satoshi Tajikistan, the creator of Pokémon, and Jerry Seinfeld are only a few talented public figures who have identified themselves as being on the autism spectrum.
I also felt confused by the line “[Adult education photography classes] came easy, which is unusual for someone with autism.” While some people with autism may have challenges with learning in typical educational environments, many demonstrate superior intellectual and academic skills, especially when provided with the type of learning environment in which they flourish. Some people with autism struggle to function independently. For many others, continuing prejudice and lack of accommodation and acceptance leads to unnecessary challenges.
Leah Harp, Ph.D.
Co-founder, City Elementary
East Blue Hill