Does Autism mean “unsuccessful”?

Does Autism mean “unsuccessful”?

I came into contact with a parent of an Autistic child recently. We were sorta “debating” about Autism and Aspergers related issues and whether or not these children can be successful. This person firmly believes that there are NO successful people in the world with Autism (excluding those with Aspergers but even then their not sure). I find that statement very disturbing, even though I don’t believe it to be true. So it got me thinking, does Autism mean unsuccessful? Success is a relative term but If you actually believe that there are NO successful people in the world with Autism, isn’t that like saying Emmett will never amount to anything? If that’s the case then I really take issue with this.

I don’t know what this persons life is like or what challenges they face with their child but to me this is really sad. I mean, really, my family resides on the “extremely challenging” side of Autism and even I don’t believe this to be true..  With everything we go through everyday and as depressing and demoralizing as it can get, I just don’t share the belief that NO Autistic child can be successful.

So I thought I would pose the question to you folks. Please share your opinions and/or personal experience, both good and bad. I would really like to get a feel for how the community feels about this. Keep in mind that this person doesn’t believe that Aspergers should be an Autism spectrum disorder and instead be a separate condition. Many people believe this and honestly at least at times, I share that opinion as their is a world of difference between a child with Autism and a child with high functioning Aspergers. I CAN say this because I live in both worlds everyday and experience this difference first hand. However, Aspergers DOES NOT mean easy. I do think at some point they will be separated but that’s a debate for a different post. Since Autism and Aspergers are currently list on the same spectrum, I’m looking for EVERYONE’s opinion. Please, just specify if you don’t mind so we have some clarification.

So what do you think? Can an Autistic child be successful? Please share your opinions..


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Bonnie Stewart

I was thinking of a couple of teachers I had in school that happened to have been classmates of my parents. One, especially, was about the most classic case of high functioning autism you ever met. From my parents perspective, he was one of the most antisocial, unpopular characters on the campus. But he married a very sensible wife who really appreciated him, and by the time he taught me in high school he was the nicest teacher I ever had. He was successful in key areas of life: marriage, raising his own sons, and management of money. So, yes, definitely, success is out there for these kids.


I think they need to take a look at that video. Tell me that isn't success!


Just watched this. Amazing….simply AMAZING. Thanks for sharing.


Temple Grandin. Listed by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world (category "heroes"). Doctor of animal science. Professor at Colorado State. Inventor.

Ms. (Dr.?) Grandin is listed as "a person with high-functioning autism". I've brought her up before as an example of a very successful person on the spectrum – and one can argue semantics, but I feel confident in saying to this mystery person, CHECK and MATE.


k0nane you are ABSOLUTELY correct. She is successful by ANY standard and not JUST because she is Autistic. Thank you my friend.


I don't know the person who you were debating with but I think this way of thinking is archaic! It's just like assuming that someone with Downs Syndrome is unsuccessful because they are working as a greeter at Wal-Mart or holding down a part time job as a fast food employee. Success is relative to what the topic is… Can kids with Autism or Auspergers be successful? I think the answer is YES. Especially if said child has parents BELIEVE that they have the potential to help them achieve whatever it is they are shooting for. Look at the SUCCESS Gavin has made with blood draws. Small? yes. Inconsequential to the overall picture? Nope. Not at all. We know how hard he has to work in order to keep himself contained. It's all about perspective – and the people who think kids like Gavin and Emmett have no future need to change their perspective!


That was a home run Nikky. Very well put as usual. 🙂


thanks 😉 and I don't know about "as usual" but I try! People who have their heads in the sand piss me off. 😉

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