Why Sonya Hussyn saying autism is a symptom of schizophrenia is irresponsible

Why Sonya Hussyn saying autism is a symptom of schizophrenia is irresponsible

The actor was told by a mom of two autistic kids that autism is not a mental illness but Hussyn seemed to think she knew better
Updated 08 Aug, 2020

Pakistani dramas have finally begun telling stories with a cause.

Whether it’s Udaari tackling child sexual abuse, Baaghi shedding light on honour killing, Sammi creating awareness about gender discrimination or Khaas and Kankar serving up something more than the saas bahu time pass that we’re so used to, our dramas have indeed stepped up their game.

Saraab featuring Sami Khan and Sonya Hussyn is another upcoming serial that will be using storytelling to educate; the drama aims to create awareness about schizophrenia, a chronic mental health condition which disrupts thinking patterns and affects functions of the brain in interpreting reality.

It seemed like the teasers were attracting just the right kind of attention and everything looked promising until Hussyn posted an image on Instagram in an effort to destigmatise mental health issues. Clubbed together with terms like anorexia and PTSD was autism.

A photo posted by Instagram (@instagram) on

Things went south fast when the actor tried to explain to a mother of two autistic kids what autism is. Taking to the comments, the mom shared with Hussyn that autism is NOT a mental illness but instead a disorder/disability.

“I have Masha Allah 2 kids who have autism so I know what I’m talking about," she posted. "Otherwise, a great message and very important to highlight it and create awareness about a very sensitive topic.”

We don't know about you guys but usually, when someone talks about their lived experience, we tend to listen. However, the Aangan actor went on to reply that "autism was one of the symptoms in schizophrenia".

While we can understand how she could have confused the two, a simple Google search would have sufficed to clear out any misconceptions. Thankfully, most people called her out on this comment and some with autistic relatives even did the emotional labour of explaining what the difference was.

“Please do your research before picking up a script. And please don’t start throwing terms because it’s cool to speak about these topics. Autism is a neurodevelopment condition," responded one follower.

"My nephew is autistic and he would remember grocery totals from 2 months ago. He would listen to RAP song once and recite the lyrics to you in a jiffy, so please.”

Due to genetic overlaps between patients of the two distinct conditions, we can see how Hussyn might have gotten things mixed up. That said, the general consensus by professionals is that autism is not an illness or disease but a developmental disorder that just means that the brain works slightly different than that of an average person; this also means that an autistic person may have average or above average intelligence.

When artists lend themselves and their voices to advocate for important issues, it's essential for them to inform themselves. What Sonya failed to portray by her comment is the delicacy with which conversations about mental health awareness needs to be tackled.

Perhaps this can be a lesson for our public figures to enlighten themselves about a topic before commenting about it on social media or otherwise.

For what it’s worth, her acting seems on point in the teasers and we’ll wait to see how the issue is handled once Saraab is aired on screen.


M. Saeed Aug 08, 2020 01:22pm
Quote from the web, "Emerging study results suggest that there are both clinical and biological links between autism and schizophrenia".
KSYED Aug 08, 2020 02:25pm
Before talking, educate yourself. Do not hurt others by your superficial knowledge.
Shahzad Akbar Shaikh Aug 08, 2020 02:49pm
a highly educated actress who knows everything about everything.
Ali Mehdi Aug 08, 2020 04:25pm
Miss know all.
Chrís Dăn Aug 09, 2020 02:32am
@KSYED but,technically ,the lady is correct.
Mashood Amin Aug 09, 2020 04:54am
Nice piece. Quite informative
Marquis de Sade Aug 09, 2020 10:07am
Why give any importance to a comment by a person not qualified to comment?
Furrukh Rao Aug 09, 2020 05:50pm
Cheap attempt.
GyrusMD Aug 09, 2020 08:46pm
Older text list autism (defined as social withdrawal) as one of the symptom categories of schizophrenia. The term currently used is "negative symptoms". Autism spectrum disorders are a separate diagnoses. Lay people who are public figures should exercise caution when interpreting medical literature .
Steve Aug 10, 2020 02:22am
@M. Saeed I have autism, and I would like you to know there is also a link between cricket and football, that being they both use a ball. There are also "clinical and biological links" between people with autism and people without, as there are between people with schizophrenia and people without.
feysel Aug 10, 2020 09:25am
Unable to understand why these illiterate stars portray themselves to be the authority on all subjects. Shame on us as we blindly follow them and their equally foolish and without any knowledge opinions
Rabia Shaikh Aug 11, 2020 02:47pm
I wonder she is educated woman but easily perplexed in two distinct term, number of films and drams were made in order to create awareness about autism and schizophrenia, I really admire kdramas as it depicts number of genre like thrill, psychology, medical, crime, legal, dark comedy and so on, on other hand our so called intellectual actors even don't know the basic difference.. Good doctor, I am Sam, my name is khan are few common films in this regard..