Stephen Jay Gould wrote The Mismeasure of Man to systematically debunk “the claim that worth can be assigned to individuals and groups by measuring intelligence as a single quantity…” Gould also states, “I criticize the myth that science itself is an objective enterprise, done properly only when scientists can shuck the constraints of their culture and view the world as it really is.” In our culture today, people who are different are still devalued and IQ testing still plays an enormous role in determining the value of our citizens – whether they score so low that they are considered intellectually disabled or so high that more is expected of them than they can give. I don’t think any single disability label so accurately encompasses this full range of socially defined “deviancy” (to use a term from Wolf Wolfensberg’s Social Role Valorisation theory and not a term some of us would ever use to describe such individuals!) than autism. For those whose neurological differences resulting in their being labeled “autistic” are extremely complex (i.e., those who can only obtain low IQ scores), our culture expects so little of them regardless of any evidence to the contrary that they are capable of so much more. For those whose neurological differences are less obvious (i.e., those who can earn high IQ scores), but for whom every day is a struggle because of how effortful it is to function in a neurotypically-controlled society, so much is expected that their difficulties mastering the “hidden curriculum” (e.g., social niceties that are learned vicariously by most and not taught directly) are seen as a personal characterological flaws.
I guess the bottom line is: Why can’t we just accept people as they are? And give them the supports they need to be as independent as possible, satisfied with their lives, and productive members of society? Because if we’ve learned nothing from past mismeasures of other groups, it is that we both harm individuals in those groups and hurt ourselves – morally, economically, and in every other way.