Luis Suarez is not Autistic

Luis Suarez, an accomplished footballer who plays for Liverpool in the UK’s Premier League and for Uruguay’s National team is in the middle of yet another media storm because of his actions yesterday. In Uruguay’s World Cup match against Italy yesterday, Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini  in the shoulder. Suarez has a terrible history of biting players during a football match. Today, the Mail Online reported that Suarez has been charged  by FIFA for biting an opponent and could potentially be slapped with a two-year ban.

As if this story isn’t disturbing enough, I have found that my blog has been viewed hundreds of times yesterday when people entered the search terms, ‘Luis Suarez Autistic’. I find it offensive that some people would quickly assume that someone who displays inappropriate behaviours that Suarez did, is autistic.

Why would they? Is it because they have encountered someone with Autism who has the tendency to bite when they are angry? Yes, some people with Autism may have that tendency, but not everyone with Autism does so.

Is it because Suarez has been doing this exact same thing and he seems not to have learned? That’s not a sign of Autism.

Is it because he is unable to control his emotions whilst also not understanding social norms? Those may be signs of Autism but one needs to look at the whole picture and observe individuals in different contexts to see whether the behaviour and understanding are constant.

Even though I am extremely offended, I understand that I may be over-reacting. I am here to educate and not moan. A diagnosis of Autism requires a lot of tests, conversations and observations. Observing someone on a football field is not enough to warrant a diagnosis. Also, inappropriate behaviours are caused by a lot of factors, which makes it impossible to pin it down to a specific condition.

I hope this clears things up somehow.

 

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8 thoughts on “Luis Suarez is not Autistic”

  1. It really annoys me when any sort of mental irregularity is pinned on autism. Not only in sports, but particularly when mental health records of shooters is covered by the media.

  2. it obviously makes no sense to suggest someone has any disorder based on one thing, having said that though from looking for reasons why an adult may bite I have only been able to find links to autism.

    its quite unusual behaviour, I feel sorry for him, all it does it gets him into trouble, I don’t think he can control it, he needs help of some kind if he wants to carry on with football because after 3 incidents I think it will happen again

  3. I’ve worked as an ABA support worker and BI for children with Autism for the last 10 years. I was appalled with the first bite I witnessed, on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in April 2013, and even more so after hearing it wasn’t his first offense. But after watching Suarez engage in several crying episodes in the World Cup while on the bench, without a reasonable antecedent for such behavior, and seeing his teammates hug him in order to calm him down, I began thinking. His biting appears out of sync with the level of frustration typically generated by the particular situations he was in immediately preceding each bite. The lack of impulse control and level of emotional outbursts, on and off the bench, lead me to believe he may be on the spectrum of Autism and suggest he be tested.

    1. I agree that it could be worth everybody’s time and effort to get him tested. However, until I’ve read a reliable diagnosis, I would not say that he is on the spectrum. He COULD be (as you’ve said), but we’re not sure yet. Thanks for your comment!!

      What do you think of ABA so far?

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