It’s the time of year for Spring walks, fundraisers, and other events to promote autism awareness. Heartwarming stories are featured in social and news media.
This is my wish list for true mindfulness of this 21st century childhood disorder.
A good start would be general acceptance that ASD is not ‘retardation’ dressed in modern nomenclature. Intellectual Disability is an even less precise diagnosis. And, most autistic people possess normal intelligence.
The public demonstrates increased understanding, and empathy, for families who experience this disability. There is no need to chastise the mom of a kid who is experiencing a meltdown at Walmart.
There should be general agreement that Hollywood’s interpretation of people with ASD is one-sided, at best.
We’ll know that we’re at the ‘next step’ when people stop asking, “Can you really get better from autism?” This is especially true for professionals.
Doctors need to buckle down, get their heads out of the sand, and take the time to learn about this condition. As the population ages, general practitioners, specialists, and sub-specialists will all need to understand how to care for such patients.
Research institutions recognize awareness by fulfilling their obligation to expand into every area of this epidemic. Professors willing to employ twenty-first century thinking can make a big difference.
Schools, already admittedly taxed by the demands of an evolving neuro-diverse student body, make a point of searching for improved means to address this growing population of our special needs population, as well.
Public servants can display their understanding by offering courses, services and information regarding appropriate response to citizens who react in an unfamiliar, or unexpected manner.
Choosing a career in one of the occupations that addresses the specific issues experienced by so many peers (or, even their own family) would be a worthy indication that young people are getting the message. Occupational, physical, speech, and behavioral skills are already valuable, sought-after professions.
From this doctor’s examining chair, real autism awareness is when my patients actually become aware. It is difficult to adequately express my satisfaction, and appreciation, when a mom writes about her kid who munched his first French fry, a toddler taking her first steps, or a child who says, “I love you.”