A Modern Day Fairy Tale: Different, Not Less. Why We STILL Need Autism Awareness {Autism Awareness Day}

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Different, Not Less. Why We STILL Need Autism Awareness {Autism Awareness Day}



Different, Not Less.
Autism Awareness Month has officially arrived. Some of you might think--- do we really need awareness still? Aren't people already aware?
NO! Sadly they are not!
If they were we would not STILL get comments like:
---But he LOOKS normal. (Autism doesn't have a look. You cannot see it in pictures. Sometimes, you can't even see it in brief interactions, unless you're familiar with autism already.)
---But he's SO smart. (Yes, yes he is . As are many on the spectrum.- I've had educators tell me they have NEVER worked with a student as brilliant as Shaun. Shaun is also hyperlexic, which accounts for 1-5% of people on the spectrum. Still aside from that, many of the greatest minds in history are not thought to be autistic... including Einstein himself! Wow! Talk about good company!)
---Are you sure? Maybe he'll outgrow it. (Yes, after 8 years since diagnosis, a dozen therapists, doctors, special education teachers, etc... not one of whom have ever had an ounce of doubt--- I think it's safe to say the diagnosis will stick!)
---He just needs more discipline. (He's had plenty. We cannot spank the autism away. I on't dignify that with more of a response.)
---He's just an active boy. (Yes, yes he is. But he also has sensory issues, impulse control issues, social delays, self care issues, no sense of safety, etc. Where other kids can be active and find a way to regulate themselves, he cannot. Where other kids can enjoy a party, a trip to the store, etc, he gets overwhelmed leading to meltdowns and aggression.)
---But he shows emotions well. (This is one that I never quite understood... yes, people with autism feel and show a variety of emotions. In fact, Shaun feels and shows emotions bigger than anyone I have ever seen. He loves bigger. He's happy bigger--- resulting in flapping and jumping and wiggling. He's sad bigger- the littlest things can break his heart. He's mad bigger - and you'll just have to trust me on that one. Now, we did have to help Shaun learn to read and understand emotions on others, but that's a completely separate issue.)
If there were no need for awareness:
---We wouldn't get dirty looks and whispers 'behind our backs' when public meltdowns occur.
---We wouldn't have grown men yelling at MY child for things out of his control.
---We wouldn't have children bullying and excluding a child because he is different.
---We would be able to participate in extracurricular activities without fear of judgement and wondering what is being said behind our backs.
---There would not be news articles by the dozen about autistic students being assaulted by peers, parents murdering their children or higher rate of suicide/ suicidal thoughts among those with a diagnosis of autism.
Awareness is still very much needed! But beyond that so is acceptance! We need to teach our children at a young age to accept all people- regardless of their disabilities. We need to remember that autism is not a tragedy, just running on a different operating system!
Different, Not Less.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely agree!! So many people are unaware of the actual wide spectrum and range of autism! Which is sad to be honest. In our world when everything and all knowledge is basically available at our fingertips. I find that people seem to learn more about something once they experience it directly, as opposed to seeking out the info just to learn.

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