autism very misunderstood indeed

The local paper in Valdosta, wherever that is, announced that the Baptist church is soon hosting an autism event (whichever one). They decided to include a bunch of Autism Awareness with the announcement, which was titled Autism very misunderstood. It then goes on to demonstrate that fact.

For reference, autism acceptance is politically correct and autism awareness is not.

Autism can be difficult to define because Autism Spectrum Disorders include a wide range of conditions with symptoms that vary in type and severity. The Autism Speaks organization describes autism in the most general terms as “a group of complex disorders of brain development.”

According to Autism Speaks, the disorders can include “intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances.”

It is not uncommon for individuals with varying types of autism to excel in math, art, music or other areas.

That certainly makes it sound confusing. The best way of understanding about autism is to read what autistic people say and watch their YouTube videos and meet them and stuff. Your mind will notice recurring themes and form a concept.

Your senses are different. Your body language is different. You don’t like eye contact. It’s hard to pick up on other people’s body language. You get obsessed with stuff. “Overload” of various kinds will put you in a state of “meltdown” or “shutdown” (think epilepsy). It’s like your brain is running Linux and all the Mac and Windows people don’t get it. The phrase “intense world theory” captures something important about autism.

Hopefully that makes it a bit more understandable, in a similar amount of words.

There seems to be no singular cause of autism. Still, genetic research is advancing quickly and, as a result, mutations that are associated with autism disorders are being identified. Experts have also said there are environmental factors that seem to contribute to brain development and as scientists learn more about those factors, the disorder may, someday, become more preventable.

I don’t support eugenic abortion of autistic people, but most people seem to. It warms my heart, knowing people hope for a world where I wouldn’t exist.

Symptoms most often begin to manifest between the ages of 2 and 3 and early intervention is critical in the management of the disorders, according to health-care professionals.

I didn’t get diagnosed until age 34, and I turned out alright. General parenting best practices seemed to do the trick.

Destigmatizing the disorder and raising awareness regarding the daily management of autism can go a long way toward helping families cope with the associated challenges.

Finally, something I can agree with. Stigma is a major challenge, which is to say mistreatment by normal people.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies around 1 in 68 American children as on the autism spectrum.

According to Autism Speaks, studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls.

An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

More than 3 million people in the United States live with some form of autism.

Autism has been called “the fastest-growing serious developmental disorder in the U.S.”

The under-recognition of autism in women is an acknowledged problem in the field. This is like talking about crime statistics while ignoring the fact that cops disproportionately go after black people, making police records not a representative sample of crime. Doctors are influenced by the stereotypes, too.

I don’t think normal people get much exposure to epistemology, philosophy of science, history of ideas, etc. Autism is a construct, not a well-defined biological thing. It’s a collection of behaviors, a pattern in people’s personalities. As such, the definition of autism hasn’t been static across time. I wouldn’t have counted as autistic in 1985 or whenever, because I could talk. Asperger’s wasn’t a thing until 1994. A broader definition of autism includes more people.

The “fastest growing” rhetoric is socially irresponsible, because you can anticipate that people won’t understand the previous paragraph. They’ll hear that autism is a bad thing, and there’s more of it. Like it’s the plague. This is counterproductive to the goal of reducing stigma. It’s also used as a talking point by the anti-vaxxers, who do actual damage to public health.

We often fear or ignore things we do not understand and that are outside of our comfort zone.

We may shy away from people who are different from us and close ourselves off to experiences that could enrich our lives in meaningful ways if we would just take the time to learn about those things we do not understand. We are all different from each other in one way or another. However, most of us will never face the life challenges faced every day by the families of children with autism.

Rarely will you hear those families complain.

Rather, they generally talk about the milestone they reach and small pleasures and joys in life that most of us simply take for granted.

As a community, we should increase our understanding and be more sensitive to families struggling to provide services to their children while being a part of the community without being looked upon with pity or even disdain.

As always, “we” is a way of admitting to things that we don’t actually all do. Not everyone is xenophobic and closed to the world.

In this article about destigmatizing autism, autistic children are talked about like terrible burdens on their families. The reader is supposed to sympathize with the family’s challenges, not the autistic person’s, which are greater.

The truest thing is that passers-by look at autistic people with pity and disdain, as Others.

The most ludicrous thing is that autism warrior families rarely complain. Complaining about your autistic kid is a whole genre of literature, much more common than anything from autistic people’s point of view.

While children and adults suffering from autism may be different in many ways, in other ways they are like all children — excitable, enjoying life and loving the hugs and encouragement from close friends and family members.

We should not close ourselves off to joys and fulfillment that can come from knowing people just because the challenges they face in life are different from our own.

Again, the most telling thing is that this last bit is necessary. People are out there going through life closed off to knowing me. If that’s not a handicap, I don’t know what is.

Note the implicit “autistic adults are like children.”

A reminder of my basic humanity is necessary, which means I’m going through life and people aren’t recognizing it. That knowledge is exhausting.

The “we” just tells the normals that treating Others like crap is understandable instead of shameful.

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