As the official Autism Awareness month draws to a close, I have once again been reminded just how much dissention and acrimony exists within the autism world. This was heightened this year by the CDC’s announcement that 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Now, it seems that people who don’t live in this alternate universe are also weighing in on the controversy. This announcement, along with the DSM proposed classification change of how people on the spectrum will be classified in the future, has unleashed a fire storm of opinions in major news sources about whether there is truly even an increase in the number of persons living and being affected by autism spectrum disorders.
So, please let me add my opinion to the fray.
I don’t care whether it is Autism Awareness or Autism Acceptance Month.
One group decided to try and change the focus from awareness to acceptance of autism. As a parent of someone on the spectrum and an educator of hundreds of students and families living on the spectrum, we are all too aware of autism. We have also been forced to accept autism a long time ago. There was no real choice not to be aware of it or to accept it. Autism is right there in our face every day.
Autism Awareness month was not intended primarily for people living in the alternate universe. It was intended to help other people become aware so that they could accept our loved ones! It was intended to bring awareness so that funding for research and autism programs would increase. It was intended to bring awareness so we would have less irritating, short-sighted, judgmental people to deal with each day.
Each group representing persons with autism spectrum disorders has a valid approach to autism support. I have been witness to the Facebook wars over whether it should be acceptance or awareness, whether groups should be spending money on research or treatment, whether its better diagnosis or a true increase brought on by a variety of supposed causes….and on and on it goes.
People! Wake Up! You do not have to attack another group to get your particular message out! Can you not see that all of the different emphases add up to studying different areas of autism? We can continue to emphasize our particular view of autism without attacking another’s point of view. When we attack each other, we weaken the cause and hinder finding solutions.
I don’t care if it’s better diagnosis or an actual increase in the numbers of persons living with autism!
Better diagnosis or an actual increase is not what matters. What matters are the people living with autism! What matters are the families who live with autism every day! Let’s spend all of our time figuring out how to make their lives easier, more productive and happier. That’s what matters!
Stop wasting time debating the wrong issues. Let’s work together to find solutions.
On this we can agree:
There are not enough appropriate services and effective treatments for autism.
Most of our school systems are failing children with autism.
Children with autism grow up into adults with autism and they aren’t finding interdependent places to live and work.
There is not adequate medical care, insurance and effective ways to cover autism treatment for all ages.
Family members are left with the responsibility of care for and treatment of persons with autism throughout their lifetime and we are tired!
I choose not to use a drop of my energy to fight other people who are living over here in the alternate universe with me. You are entitled to your particular point-of-view and so am I.