Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.

6/26/08

Where Is All The Autism Awareness?

This is a new story, yet the theme is nothing short of disgustingly familiar. Another autistic child being kicked out, this time from an airplane. We've seen this play out time and time again, with children being booted from school, church, the movies, and Boy Scouts. Where is all the Autism Awareness?

Here we are, trying to live our lives with our children. And all too often, the treatment we receive from those in society ranges from rude to cruel. The stares, snickers, and whispers are one thing. But lately, it seems the job of parenting an autistic child and that of simply being an autistic person has become increasingly more difficult. The message that we, and our children, are an inconvenience and need not be tolerated is becoming quite clear. There was a time when it was thought community was where you turned to when you needed assistance. The idea of reaching out--whether to your church, your school, or other community groups, seems more difficult for autistics each day.

Now, I will say, I look at things on both sides. In fact, prior to my experiences with my youngest, I may have agreed with the airline's position. I may have believed that kicking this mother and child off the flight was the only option. And to any who feel this way, I say walk a mile in our shoes. I have seen time and time again, the intolerance toward autistic people, and people with disabilities in general, is shameful. I am not surprised that this flight crew was forceful and abrupt, and that they did not attempt to work with this mom and her son. It was only a few weeks ago, that AutismVox wrote about an incident in the security line with her son. What more is needed, for society to become tolerant of our children? The sad truth is, most would prefer we keep our kids away.

With all this "autism awareness" everywhere, I ask you this: where is all the understanding? Does it matter that someone knows what autism is, or the figures 1 in 150, or that Jenny McCarthy "recovered" her son? No, obviously it doesn't. It's gotten us nowhere. Proper care is still very limited, we are still lacking in options for teen and adult autistics, services are frustratingly limited. Autistic children and adults are being abused and killed, as I wrote about recently. Autistic individuals, and their families, are discriminated against. All of the money raised in the name of "autism awareness," all the signs at Toys R Us, the pretzels, the CNN coverage...and where has that gotten any of us?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I tried to report my problems (differences) more than 30 years ago. At that time I was basicly told it was all in my head.

I have been waiting for Autism Awareness for more than 30 years.

Welcome to the club.

Patrick

leila said...

I hope this sad story will at least bring more awareness and more understanding towards autistic people, and more outrage at how the airlines are treating people.

Kassiane said...

Awareness isn't what we need. We need acceptance. Everyone knows the horror stories of autism from such characters as autism speaks. That kind of "awareness" isn't cutting it.

S.L. said...

@ Patrick:
Thanks for the official welcome. ;) Sorry, I'm rather sarcastic today...the last few months have just really disheartened my view on society, and furthered by concerns for my child's future. People look at me like I have two heads when I say what I want most now with regard to autism is tolerance, acceptance, and teen & adult services (they look shocked--what, no cure? no "green" vaccines?).

I sincerely hope you won't have to wait another 30 years for Autism Awareness (well, the way we see it). Take care.

@ Leila:
It's been nice to hear some of the news anchors discuss this situation & that of Alex Barton with disgust (of the discrimination/alienation/etc. these kids have faced). But, what's really sad is what many people have to say in comments sections for such stories--a basic theme of the kids got what was coming to them, and we should just leave the world alone.

Also, I fear all of this news coverage--of the "autistic child" being disruptive in class, on an airplane, in church, and so on, only further paints that picture that a kid like mine is a problem. It's near impossible to find a positive autism story in the media--and I feel there are many to be heard.

Last note--the airlines are treating all of us like 2nd class citizens. Truly, air travel is going downhill at a fast clip. Something needs to change on that front, and surely we all need to learn to be tolerant of others.


Kassiane:
You said it...perfectly. That's what gets me--all the time, money, media spent and wasted in the name of "Autism Awareness," and what the heck does it actually do for autistics? NOTHING. When will anyone learn?

Anonymous said...

I have an autistic child.... well life is not all pink , its more like blue. i am trying to include him in activities and there are times when we are received well and there are times when we are looked at like we came from Mars. Even my daughter who is 6 years old now and have no problem told can't play with some kids at the playground b/c she has an autistic sibling. Now how do you explain that to a 6 years old... Thank God she told the other kids ok if you don't want to play with me for that ... i will play with my brother.

There hasn't been a day go by for the past 4 years that my heart was not broken by some ignorant stranger.

We have all these awarness , walk etc, i haven't seen any benefit from it. the cast of treatments are going up, medicine still needed, public school system... don't even want to think about it. My son was severly neglected in a private school for autistic children where i paid over 4,500/ month. I have no more expectation b/c i am sick and tired of being let down by ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Nowadays it is assumed that if you fly, you will be treated in a manner that is at best condescending, at worst abusive. Perhaps that is the reason we noticed many other special needs children with their families traveling, like us, by car recently. We were also surprised how many folks we encountered said they had a nephew, cousin, or other friend or relative who was also "special"- and so were kind to us. Thanks to fellow travelers! I am glad we did not fly.

The Chick said...

You are all so right. The question is, what do we do? What's our next course of action? I'm constantly doling out encouragement to newly diagnosed parents while running out of encouragement for myself.

Sharon said...

I sort of wish I hadn't followed that link to read the many horrible comments there. There is a total lack of understanding that a little bit of help, tolerance and kindness would most likely have helped that mum and her child to settle on the plane.

The preponderance of "keep their kind out of sight" comments is very upsetting.

But people like the author of the article you linked to are culpable for the demonisation of autism too. A few weeks ago she wrote a post beginning,
" One of my greatest fears is that autism will break into my house and steal my son. It may be irrational, but it's there: He'll wake up one morning and vacantly look through me. He'll lose his words, open and close doors for three hours, or begin screaming, as if in pain."

Then she seems to be shocked and saddened when it's reported that autistic people are being discriminated against?!

raju ahamad said...

I hope we all be aware about to hear your sorrow-full story .

EZBEAUTIFULSKIN