Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How aware of autism are you?

No. Think about it before you answer. Are you aware? Really aware?

You know that 1/88 children are diagnosed with autism.

You know that there is no known cure for autism.

You know that autism cannot be outgrown.

You know that autism was discovered in 1943... 70 years ago. Discovered. not invented. Do you know that there are adults of all ages with a spectrum of autism diagnoses? A spectrum of lives? A spectrum of abilities?

No, really. Think first, then answer. Really consider what you know. what you are aware of. Do you know your readers? Your followers? You fellow page visitors? Do you know who is commenting? Do you really think that every single person who seeks you out or seeks out the page you seeked out is the parent of an autistic child?

Look at your perception of some of the people on the autism pages. Do you see:

The really abrasive one who no matter what is posted always has something to say that will make your blood boil...

The one who rambles on about a totally unrelated topic...

The weird one who posts odd things on the page walls...

The creeper who makes inappropriate comments...

The judgy one who never fails to say what's on their mind no matter how it sounds...

The ones who just don't fit...

The ones who make you uncomfortable and you don't know what to say back...

The awkward ones...

The know-it-alls...

The annoying...

The desperate for attention...

The ignored...

The ones you just don't have the time or inclination to deal with.

Do you know that autism is not just for the children? Do you know that the adults with autism are looking for the same thing you want for your children? The want acceptance. Understanding. Patience. Friendship. A place to belong. Someone to listen. Someone to see them. to really see them. Where should they belong more than in the autism community? Where should they be accepted more than in groups who should understand? Who can understand more or have more genuine patience than parents who know that someday that will be their child?

The adults like our children, they are not locked away in some unknown asylum. The are not hidden away never to see the light of day. They are the people in front of you in line, the checker ringing up your purchases, the lawyer, the doctor, the person waiting on the right turn light to turn because the rules are murky and they don't know what to do, the ones going at the posted speed limit... they are on the streets, in the community, online. They are living right along side you with an invisible disability that you cannot see. Some of them are normal enough to pass for normal. Some of them can speak a straight sentence. Some of them need a little more support. Some of them will never tell you they have autism. They will not tell you when they need extra time or when they need you to be patient with them. They will not ask for accommodations, modifications, understanding. Don't you think we ought to give it anyway?

But we don't. We say hurtful things without thinking of the back story or thinking of how our own words sound. We ban them from our pages without knowing them. Banish them from our groups because they see differently. We hurry them along because they interfere with our day. They mess up our plan. We turn our backs on them and tell them we don't want them interacting with us. We tell them that they don't belong even in the autism community.

and then we turn around and cry for autism awareness.

Little bit backwards, don't you think?

I am not saying that all autistic people are wonderful and great and must have their butts kissed and coddled. Those with a diagnosis are just as capable of being jackasses as a neurotypical person. But, don't they at least deserve a chance to earn that title legitimately? Not just because of miscommunication or misperceptions?

Look at the people you deal with every day and try to put the person you love in their shoes. Is this the way you want people to treat them? Should your loved one have to declare their autism diagnosis to be treated with dignity, with respect? To be given a chance? Does awareness and acceptance have an expiration date?


  1. Autism definitely has many faces, that too often, go unrecognized. Some times autism is obvious, but not all the time. But that shouldn't matter. What matters is acceptance of everyone.

  2. Thank you for writing this and making us all stop and think before we run our mouths off about how unfair the world is. You really tackle the tough stuff and I appreciate that in you. James will grow up to be an adult and I will want him to be treated with respect more than acceptance. That is what I fight for everyday is global respect.

  3. Excellent point. In reviewing my own preparenthood life...I have always been aware, accommodating or kind. I try harder these days. I know everyone, regardless of neurology, has a story worth hearing, and if they want or need to tell it, I will listen in any way I can. Celebrate the joy, commiserate with the sorrows, reach out a hand when it is needed, direct to someone wiser than myself when I am out of my depth. You are an amazing person.

  4. This awareness should also extend to everyone. Having more respect for that person getting under your skin regardless of diagnosis will only help you better enjoy your life. No one can fully understand what is going on with a stranger and we tend to judge first based on our own issues. To help people respect the struggles autistic families face, we also have to show the example of respecting and keeping open minds.

  5. love this...very relatable (I know that's not a word :) I'm going to borrow part of this, if u don't mind...

  6. Great post.....I have had to ban one person that was aspie and 3 NT's.....but i did so because they were being verbally abrasive and rude. The aspie I banned was the same one that had done and said similar things on another autism page, and it was as if he was looking for a rise. I let it go at first, but he kept on and kept on. I hated to do it. I hated to shut him out. To close him off. Though why should I let him keep verbally assaulting me over stuff that had nothing to do with him directly or indirectly. I think the world as a whole does need to be more aware of others, NT or otherwise. I also think ppl in general need to be more respectful. You give respect, you get respect :)

  7. I am so happy that you posted this! Thank you so much for all of your help over the last couple of days. You did a beautiful job articulating your point. :)