Advocates' Outcry Over Politician's Autism Statement
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 9, 2006
LONDON, ENGLAND--"I didn't say that, actually."
That quote was from Conservative George Osborne, a Member of Britain's Parliament, responding to criticism by autism advocacy and others that he suggested Chancellor Gordon Brown, a member of the Labour Party, has autism.
In an exchange during a meeting last week, Osborne was asked if it's possible that his own knack for remembering trivial facts is because he is "faintly autistic".
Osborne reportedly replied, "We're not getting on to Gordon Brown, yet".
Considered the second most powerful member of the British government, Brown is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a role similar to a Secretary of the Treasury or Minister of Finance. He is expected to replace Tony Blair as Prime Minister next year.
Brown's supporters soon cried "foul" and asked for Osborne to apologize -- to people with autism.
Leaders of autism advocacy groups criticized Osborne for using the term in an insulting manner that could cause "deep distress and hurt" to people who experience autism.
"George Osborne doesn't seem to have noticed that most people over the age of eight no longer use serious and distressing disabilities as a way of taunting people," said parent-advocate Nick Hornby.
On Monday, Osborne told Sky News the whole thing was a simple misunderstanding, that he was simply trying to move the conversation along. He added that he "absolutely" did not believe Brown has autism.
"Osborne's autism jibe criticised" (BBC News)