If anyone wants to know what has been bothering me immensely lately, it is this PSA (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=73o3TOh99Es#at=10) that Autism Speaks (United States) has put out to prepare for the upcoming election.
“Autism Families” in the United States do not get much assistance with funding and therapies. I will 100% agree to that but I do not think that Autism Speaks, especially as an advocacy organization, has the right to make people with Autism seem helpless and unable to accomplish things.
I originally experienced this discomfort with them in April when then prevalence of Autism went from 1 in 110 to 1 in 88 (I could go on for hours about that) and Autism Speaks (US) sent out an email essentially warning the public about Autism. “At 1 in 88, let me be clear, the United States is experiencing an autism epidemic.” The definition of an epidemic: “A widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time: “a flu epidemic”. First of all, Autism in NOT a disease. I will repeat that once more, Autism is NOT a disease. Therefore, Autism is not an epidemic. SARS, yes, that was an epidemic. H1N1, yes, an epidemic. Autism, NO, not an epidemic. Good try. This email also said: “This is a national emergency. We need a national strategy.” Again, I will not disagree that the States need better care for people with Autism, Heck! We need better care too! But scaring the heck out of people is not getting anyone, anywhere. For an organization that is meant to advocate and educate, you’re really just scaring people off.
This PSA bothers me beyond belief. “but when you’re a person on the Autism Spectrum, you’re not really free.” This completely contradicts everything we’ve worked for! People are finally beginning to understand and accept Autism! Statements like these are pushing us ten feet back!! I completely understand the need for funding. I understand more than you know! But making people afraid of Autism is not doing anything for anyone! We are going from loving the idea of having our neurotypical children integrated with children with Autism but now it’s an “epidemic” and parents aren’t so comfortable with that idea anymore.
I could go on about this forever but I’m going to leave it at that for now. People, please don’t forget. Autism is not a disease. Autism is not an epidemic. Yes, the numbers have increased but keep in mind, so many more tools are now available for diagnosis. Perhaps these have always been the numbers, kids were just never diagnosed. Children, youth and adults with Autism are just the same as you and I. They just may do things a little differently. See the ability.