Alice's Adventures in Disorderland
It gets even worse when successful autistics are portrayed as pitiful, suffering freaks who fought their autism (or some other equally offensive military metaphor) to achieve miraculous success despite their neurological inferiority. This sort of posthumous diagnosis doesn't just identify typical autistic behaviors; it also picks apart the person's work in search of various shortcomings that can be blamed on defective mental wiring.
Sometimes the so-called evidence relied on for posthumous diagnosis gets to the point of being just plain absurd, as in Dr. Michael Fitzgerald's comments on The Infinite Mind regarding Lewis Carroll, the author of the classic children's stories Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Fitzgerald claimed that the stories "couldn't have been written by anybody except somebody with Asperger's syndrome" because, among other things, the animal characters were talking and "somebody with Asperger's syndrome are [sic] absolutely fascinated by animals." Fitzgerald also pointed to Carroll's use of repetitive language and stated that all autistics "whether they are geniuses or not they use repetitive language."
When I read garbage like that, it just makes me want to outgrabe. Hello-o-o, Dr. Fitzgerald, these are CHILDREN'S books, just in case you hadn't noticed. Talking animals and repetitive language are standard fare in children's books. You'd have to be a total dumbass to interpret that as evidence of an obsession with animals or a language disorder.
Of course, autistics are not, by any means, the only group whose creative works have been patronizingly dismissed as nothing but isolated fragments of ability from an impaired brain. There is an entire genre of Outsider Art, that is, art by individuals who have been labeled as mentally abnormal in one way or another. In the past, much of this art was produced by those who were confined to mental institutions. Estée Klar-Wolfond comments that society often has expressed a "sensationalist view towards Outsider Art and artists—a gazing from the outside in without engaging or accepting the variety of human functioning, much like a human safely viewing a Gorilla in a cage."
This view of neurologically different artists as subhuman curiosities has led to such outrageous exploitation as the sale of autistic artists' work to raise money for pro-cure organizations. Apparently the curebies see no contradiction between praising the work of autistic artists while, at the same time, asserting that the minds that produced it should not exist.
Not only is it considered socially acceptable to gawk at the works of an autistic artist as if she were an elephant painting with a brush in her trunk, it's also common for autistic people to be treated as children regardless of their age. As Kristina Chew points out, the Autism Society of America has started publishing a humor column entitled "Out of the Mouths of Babes," which invites non-autistics to send in anecdotes about their conversations with their autistic family members (some of whom are adults) so that the readers can have a good laugh at their expense.
You know what this reminds me of? The language used to describe African-Americans back in the days of Jim Crow. If you were black, you could expect to be called "boy" or "girl" throughout your entire adult life, until you were quite elderly, at which point you would be called "uncle" or "auntie."
In much the same way, there are no adults in Disorderland.