I came across a captivating series of artwork by artists with autism today: http://discovermagazine.com/photos/15-how-autistic-artists-see-the-world. It made me think of how we view talented people with disabilities. Is their talent a consequence of their disability, or is it completely separate? In this display of artwork, the intention was for the artists to express through pictures how they felt about their world, but on second thought, isn't that what all artists do?
I suppose that any form of art is really about self-expression, but I wonder if it is a form of discrimination to say that these artists' unique abilities are attributable to their disabilities. Just imagine how a critical review of Van Gogh's work would read today, "... a fascinating insight into the mind of the emotionally disabled...prodigious output despite his significant handicaps (missing an ear and all).." And of course Van Gogh is just the beginning; what about Mozart, DeNerval, Einstein, or Bohr?
In fact I think you could safely say that most of the truly brilliant people who have given us so much could probably qualify for SSI nowadays. Perhaps it's a non-issue to many, but I'm thinking it's a subtle form of discrimination, kind of like saying, "Yes, it's amazing the work he's done, considering his background...it's truly laudable how he was able to rise above his ghetto/immigrant/broken family background." Think about it. We would never tolerate anyone saying this, so why do we allow people to do this with the special needs population?"