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Autism Awareness Advocate Slams Don Burke’s ‘Hurtful’ Asperger’s Claims

'Gobsmacking’

Autism Awareness Advocate Slams Don Burke’s ‘Hurtful’ Asperger’s Claims

Autism awareness advocates have criticised Don Burke's self-diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome.

Founding director and CEO of Autism Awareness Australia Nicole Rogerson said that Burke's claims on A Current Affair on Monday night - that his self-diagnosed Asperger's could be a reason why he may have mis-interpreted or misread body language - was hurtful to people on the autism spectrum.

 "What a ridiculous thing for him to say," Ms Rogerson said, reports smh.com.au.

"Incredibly hurtful to those people on the autism spectrum and their families because anybody who knows anybody on the autism spectrum would know that there is nothing about having Asperger's or autism that makes you more or less likely to be a sexual predator, anymore than having red hair makes you more likely.

"The only reason I can think of [for Burke's Asperger's justification] is he is trying to use the idea that people with Asperger's sometimes don't read social cues very well.

"I feel like he has just watched a couple of good episodes of The Good Doctor ... the characters with Asperger's in those kind of media shows often have difficulties reading social cues but he understands full well that his behaviour has been inappropriate over the years and he just can't bring himself to say 'I'm sorry' to women.

"He is going to use Asperger's as an example of 'Hey, I didn't know what I was doing; I don't read social cues'.

Burke made the claims during his A Current Affair interview, in which he addressed allegations made against him by former colleagues.

"I can look at a lens but I have difficulty looking at people in the eye," Burke said.

"I missed the body language and the subtle signs that people give you. I don't see that. I suffer from a terrible problem with that. Not seeing. No one can understand how you can't see it. But you don't.

"I'm an Asperger's person and I have a lot of other failings that are genetic."

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