Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.
April is National Autism Awareness Month.
I would say that you will see a lot of terrific blog pieces on autism awareness this month, and you will. But those of us who blog about and live with autism know that autism awareness isn't just one month, but a 24/7/365 job.
And a lot of times, that is not enough.
Autism awareness is the challenge that we who have children on the autism spectrum or who are on the autism spectrum face every single day. We have all been through IEP meetings from hell. We have endured the stares of other people when our children stim in public. We have heard people talk about how our children are "retarded", or stupid, all because they act differently or they need a little help to get through the school day.
Around this time last year, we were inundated with the cases of Adam Race, who's church filed a restraining order against him and his family because he was being disruptive, and Alex Barton, and kindergartner who literally voted out of his class Survivor-style by his classmates at the demand of his teacher. The restraining order against the Races still stands, as last I read, and Alex Barton's teacher was suspended for a year and had her tenure revoked. But neither of these are the real story.
The real story lies in the comments these stories received when they first broke last year. There were many comments that supported the Races and Alex Barton, but just as many, if not more negative comments, not just about Adam and Alex, but autism in general. Here are some comments about the Adam Race story, which I had previously mentioned in this story at the GFCF Experience:
It's not about autism. Anyone who hits or grabs people in church cannot be allowed to attend. The article, obviously slanted and with a strong agenda,didn't mention that this person physically attacks people in church until the end of the story. Sadly, people who cannot be controlled cannot be allowed in church. Think for a minute, would you want your children hit or groped by this person?
... If the child is disruptive (and yes, he is a child and will unfortunately remain one his entire life) ...
Their son is on the Autism spectrum and based on research, one or both of the parent is much more likely to be on the spectrum also; obviously this parent is higher functioning than her son.
I have two autistic nephews. These unfortunate people belong in institutions instead of inflicting their ill behavior on the rest of us in the name of political correctness. My oldest nephew has barely any idea that he has parents and is constantly in trouble with the law. This kid like my oldest nephew needs to be locked up where he can get a routine and be surrounded with similar people. He might could still do something productive maybe even learn a skill but he cannot do it on the outside. This nation wastes billions in resources to in a Don Quixote belief that autistic people can be magically cured, sorry, its not happening! They're brains are mush. Please, please,please, reopen the institutions so we can get on with our lives. If this statement hurts your feelings, sorry, but I am more concerned with the welfare of everyone else!
And what happened when God discovered Adam was naughty? HE KICKED HIM OUT OF EDEN!
The church did offer closed circuit tv in the basement. My best friend's son has autism, and I work in a group home with someone who has autism as well. Since this child is homeschooled he is not in public much, and sometimes sitting in a pew for an hour can be hard for anyone. Maybe he gets over stimulated or even bored. This is a person who has the physical body of a 13 year old, but what is his mental age? 3? If my 3 year old daughter was acting this way I would take her out of the service or sit in the back. (emphasis added)
The comments for the Alex Barton case were similar:
We have become a nation of guilty parents who raise overprotected children who grow up into neurotic teens. Kids rule the classroom. Teachers are the victims.
This teacher is doomed...and so is any other teacher who looks, says, or does anything to upset lil Johnny's feelings
I don't think the teacher was completely wrong. How fair is it that the other children have to have their learning expeirence disrupted b/c a student cannot behave. This so called "autusim" or ADD ADHD is an excuse for parents b/c they don't know how to raise a child or disipline them the right way. Stop suger coating them. Stop blaming the teacher. BLAME THE PARENTS. The teacher has a JOB: it is to give children an education. The teachers job should not be disiplining a child every 5 minutes b/c he or she doesn't know how to act in a classroom.
And you wonder why we need to talk about autism awareness???
As it stands, we now have a month where autism awareness will be more in focus than any other time of the year. It will especially be in focus tomorrow, on World Autism Awareness Day, when world wide media will hopefully devote some time to autism awareness.
But for those of who live with autism, April 2009 is only 30 days of a lifetime of autism awareness.
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