Wednesday April 2 was National Autism Awareness Day. In recent years, what was once a stigmatized diagnosis is becoming much more widely embraced. People are teaching students that they should strive to be different. We’re often told to embrace our differences, and that’s how we should look at autism; as a different quirk some of us possess and some of us don’t. Instead of thinking of Autism Spectrum Disorders as a disability, we have to focus our thoughts on what people with autism can do instead of what they cannot do. The idea of ability versus disability is rooted in the development of statistical measurements like the bell curve, or the normal distribution. Who decides what normal looks like? Who decides how normal people act or speak? Words such as “normal” or “weird” have recently developed negative connotations because of such questions.
Very commonly, people with ASD can feel atypical and alienated due to the educational standards in which they’re raised and societal limitations that inhibit their potential.
Blaming vaccines or bad parenting for the development of autism in children is counterproductive. It’s important to stay positive in a situation when someone you care about is diagnosed with an ASD and not to place the blame where it should not be. Scientists and researchers from the University of California, San Diego’s School of Medicine, concluded that autism begins to develop during pregnancy, and not after.
There isn’t a cure for autism and there are many treatment options, but does autism necessarily need to be treated? A lot of people are trying to fix children and adults with ASD, but why fix something that’s not broken? We have to realize that autism is an umbrella term and the spectrum is quite extensive. Once you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve only met one person with autism, so we should not treat everyone with the diagnosis similarly.
Autism diagnoses have become more prevalent: It was recently reported that one in 68 children has autism. The stigmatization of the diagnosis has been reversed due to the actions of activists, parents and academics. The autism community has grown prouder and prouder as time goes on. Brandon Conner, a brave student who told his high school peers that he had autism, said, “The benefits of having such a gift are too numerous to be written, typed or told.”
It is time to celebrate our differences and remember to be patient with those who have quirks unlike ours. Patience is a virtue that is worth aiming toward.