Tag Archives: illness

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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UK Supermarkets Asda and Tesco Apologise for Disgraceful and Offensive Costume

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asdaUK supermarket giant Asda has apologised for their hugely inappropriate halloween costume marketed as the ‘Mental Patient Fancy Dress Costume’  which featured fake blood, a mask and a fake meat cleaver. They have withdrawn the sale of the said product and pledged to donate £25,000 to Charity Mind after they were bombarded with tweets from offended individuals such as ex-footballer Stan Collymore and charities such as Rethink Mental Illness.

Tesco, who had a similarly absurd ‘psycho ward’ costume (boiler suit, mask and machete) also withdrew their product subsequently and like Asda, have issued offical apologies.

tescoAs an advocate for teaching mental health awareness and diversity, I am hugely offended and horrified by the sale and  advertisement of the costumes. We are still living in an age where people with mental illnesses are stigmatized, and stupid publicity stunts such as this is totally unacceptable. Not only does it fuel the negative stereotype but it also gives the masses an opportunity to publicly mock those who are living with mental illnesses. I am sure that they are aware of the fact that several people have killed themselves because they could not live with the stigma.

In addition, neither of these costumes accurately depict people with mental illness. Having visited many psychiatric wards and mental institutions, and having worked with people with psychiatric conditions, I have not seen anyone who dressed and looked like the pictures on Asda’s and Tesco’s  advertisements. The mentally ill need support, understanding and acceptance. They certainly do not need any public mockery such as this. Apologies and donations are not enough.