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Renowned autism advocate Stephen Shore once said, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Still, ignorance leaves even well-intentioned individuals reverting to stereotypes and hand-wringing over a “cure.” Neurodiversity advocate Ethan Lisi lives with autism, and his accessible, engaging TED Talk aims to set nonautistic people straight: Autism is not a defect but a natural variation on humanity’s rich fabric.


Often stereotyped in the popular media, autistic people are a diverse and varied group.

When you picture someone with autism, what image do you conjure up? The stereotype is a socially awkward white man who blurts out inappropriate things and drones on constantly about the same topic. Some assume that autistic people don’t have a sense of morality, humor or empathy, or that those on the spectrum are all savants. All of these assumptions unfairly pigeonhole a wide swath of unique individuals. Depictions of autism in the popular media perpetuate these images. 

Consider autism as a different way of functioning rather than a mental health problem that scientists need to cure.

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About the Speaker

Neurodiversity advocate Ethan Lisi started speaking publicly about living with autism after his mother was diagnosed.

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