America is one of the most torn apart countries in the world when it comes to autism. We never knew exactly what causes autism, we never knew if there is more autism today than it was before and we never knew if we can cure it and how to cure it, so no wonder we are so uncertain, confused or even enraged about it.
But the fact that we talk is a very good thing. Problems usually linger around if people’s minds are made up about them and then they go silent. Autism has come a long way, from the time when doctors were pointing fingers to “refrigerator mothers” whose children with autism were a disgrace to the entire family. Now things are different, and the knowledge that parents speak for children with autism is no longer entirely true.
From the shadows, an organization steps out having made millions of dollars over the last few years. The company’s name is Autism Speaks and it is hosting events and walks which can be attended in Hollywood every year, also known as Light Up the Blues.
The company’s motto is “It’s time to listen”, but this is not good enough for the world. The company is still facing enormous pressure from rights groups which believe that the company is a hoax and that, despite promoting listening, they fail to do so completely. Why? Because there is no autistic person who takes part in Autism Speaks. And this is not perceived as normal, especially considering their motto.
The company does not seem to have performed well in the past, having framed themselves with a 2009 video called “I am Autism”. According to this video, autism was a stalker who “knew where you lived and lived there too”, who affects everybody around and who “works faster than pediatric AIDS, cancer and diabetes combined”. To put more fuel onto the fire, the stalker plotted to “rob people of children and dreams”.
The group stained its reputation for life having promoted misconceptions about autism and even accusing it of being a breaker of marriages, even though numerous studies have revealed that divorce rates are relatively the same for parents with autistic children as for those with healthy children.
This is why we need to keep talking. This is why we need invest more time into seeing the world for what it actually is. While autism is a terrible condition that can bring sorrow in families, it is not the end of life as we know it. It is just another way of life. And if it is accepted for what it is, it can involve joy on the long run as well.
Photo Credits openclipart.org