Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Autism Awareness, Acceptance... Whatever

April is autism something-or-other month, depending on whom you ask. It's all about "acceptance" or "awareness" or "diversity" or "celebration" or "pride" — and I'm sure a few other concepts.

To this, I respond with a busy, preoccupied, "Whatever."

I get that people want to find support, inspiration, connections, and resources. I'm all for helping people, especially autistic teens and adults, find ways to achieve all they can. If autism month helps people find those supports, great.

But, what I dislike is the absurdity of the news media during this annual panic-feeding month. Put the risks in context:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/opinion/sunday/how-to-think-about-the-risk-of-autism.html

You want to know what "caused" my autistic traits? Birth trauma. Period. And sure enough, that's number two on the list of risk factors, right beneath an autistic twin. But, easy explanations aren't what drive autism month news coverage.

In past years, I've been interviewed by major media outlets and my answers about "causes" of autism and the statistical research are omitted. What reporters want to know is how horrible my life has been and if I blame vaccines, foods, toxins, or some other factor.

Nope. The doctor was careless. My brain was shaken (or stirred), and I have plenty of other physical reminders that my arrival was… eventful. I don't blame anyone, don't march, don't demand an investigation, don't get all worked up about things I cannot change from the past. The doctor is gone, but birth was, is, and likely long will be a dangerous event with risks.

Don't I want to take "pride" or "celebrate" my neurological differences? Nope.

Don't I want more awareness? Nope. There's plenty, as evidenced by all the ribbons, puzzle pieces, and other symbols I see on cars in parking lots. Trust me, people have heard of autism. I hear the Autism Speaks commercials twice an hour thanks to my favorite streaming radio station.

Don't I want to be accepted? Not really. That's like being tolerated.

I like where I work, now. Among mathematicians, computer programmers, engineers, and my other colleagues, I'm perfectly normal. I'm accepted by the people I respect, and that's all I need. Actually, it isn't acceptance that I value… it is their respect. I am respected, and that's good.

You want or need an autism month, that's okay with me. And if that's how you found my blog, Facebook page, or website, that's okay, too.

Autism is a daily reality, not limited to a month or year.

Plus, I'm really busy in April because it is the last full month of my school year. I need to focus on so many things this month that there's little room for anything autism-specific.

1 comment:

  1. Dr's for some reason don't like to add "birth trauma" to their list of autism causes here yet my youngest I am certain has brain damage. We just did a major gene test for a drug trial and the only genes that are iffy is for kidney stones - 1:4 and we're doing some testing but we're not concerned.

    So... what else caused it?? Maybe those 5 days in antenatal???

    I have no use for ASD month. As you mentioned there's enough out there and most stereotypes that I dislike... a lot. IMO awareness starts at home... we don't hide and we've never had any issues when we are out and about. But (shhhhh.....) mine behave in public... well, except for a little flapping and vocal noise but nobody cares about that.

    ReplyDelete

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