Autism…It’s not an epidemic

I’ve had a few months now to come to terms with my diagnosis. In a way, I guess I’ve always known. I was labeled gifted in 1973…kindergarten for me. Throughout school, I remember the run ins with teachers, the compassionate few that took me under their wing and, well, the bullies. I was a special education teacher until my other health issues got to be too much to juggle with a job. From that perspective, I can honestly tell you that I think we have made great strides toward including learners of all abilities. However, the overall system is still in place. As are the teachers who don’t understand things, the compassionate few who guide instead of punish and, well, the bullies. In spades.

I keep bringing up bullies because that behavior is so prevalent in American society (might be in others, but I don’t have personal experience there). Really, would it be so hard for people to just stop thinking solely about themselves and consider the impact of their behavior and words on others? There is a social media meme that states “Kindness is free. Just sprinkle that stuff everywhere!”

I don’t think it would be that hard to think before you say or act. Forty years ago, that’s how kids were raised. I’m not going to lapse into a “good old days” speech because while I believe in boundaries, sometimes I saw kids whose boundaries were so tightly defined, they suffocated. Parenting requires effort and balance.

In case you’re wondering by now…there is a reason for the title of this blog. One of the biggest bullies in the Autism community is at it again. You’ve probably heard about Autism Speaks by now. If not, feel free to search the web. You’ll find lots of information, both pro and con. For me personally, Autism Speaks does not speak for me. I can see why some families want a cure and if that’s for you, ok. But like everything else, I don’t think it should be forced on people. If you weren’t prepared to raise a child who may be different from you in behavior, beliefs or any other way, you probably ought not to have children. Every little human eventually grows up. They may or may follow in your footsteps. Accepting that different is okay will go a long way towards sprinkling kindness.

Autism Speaks actively negates all the good things Autistic individuals are capable of doing in their lifetimes. I know many Autistics that are quite accomplished by society’s standards and even more who are successful in their chosen pursuits. Yes, these individuals are primarily what is now considered “high functioning” under the spectrum diagnosis forced on us by the DSM-V. I really struggle with that verbiage. It allows organizations like Autism Speaks to propagandize against Autistics with impunity. Now we’re all “suffering” from a “disease” that is an “epidemic.”

Curious? Check out I can’t watch the “documentary” without getting really angry. I want you to substitute the word “cancer” for Autism and see how you feel by the end. Because that is what is implied…an epidemic in need of a cure. Oddly enough, the only part where adults are asked anything is a segment about :30 seconds long. As I said, all little humans grow up. We aren’t “cured” when we turn 18. We don’t develop powers of invisibility. I’m still here as are thousands of individuals who grew up Autistic.

Honestly, if I wasn’t being singled out for Autism, I would have been singled out for something else as I was growing up. Proof? Autistics attended separate schools when I was younger. Remember, the education laws everyone holds up now were enacted in 1974. That means about the time I hit high school, I saw my first “disabled” student in my own school. I wasn’t diagnosed Autistic. I was gifted and quirky. There’s a reason I started college at 16…I couldn’t stand the one size fits all high school I attended. My teachers disliked me. My fellow students shunned me (there are 3 friends from high school on my social media page). It was a living hell.

Read the review. Think about what you could do differently. Sprinkle kindness and sow acceptance. We’re all in this together and if you’d like things to change, remember the change has to start with YOU!

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