By now everyone knows about the new numbers on autism diagnosis. And we have already seen the media jumping in the alarmist train: IT IS AN EPIDEMIC!
My friend and I decided to look up some definitions for this word that has been used to classify me. This is what I found in one on line dictionary:
a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time: a flu epidemic.
a disease occurring in such a way.
a sudden, widespread occurrence of a particular undesirable phenomenon: an epidemic of violent crime.
Am I a carrier of a disease? An infectious one? Am I an undesirable phenomenon?
The answer is NO. But you would believe that autism is indeed infectious and contagious, and that we, autistics, are undesirable, if you are paying attention to the conversation happening without our input.
The media, and organizations that claim expertise in autism – but that never listen to autistics – sound the alarm of a “dreadful future, with the world full of
Please, read the last paragraph again. It says that I am so “wrong”, that my life is such a burden, that I should not exist.
That is the awareness campaign. It promotes awareness of autism with the fear that more autistics will be born; it promotes the need to change or “fix” us because we cost too much to society. It denies us participation in this same society.
The conversation about autism awareness, which raises a lot of money through scary adds, is misguided and pushes us, autistics, to the sidelines.
How about this: all advocacy groups and organizations that claim to be our allies, could join us, autistics and true supporters of the neurodiversity movement, to promote better, healthier lives for all autistics, working towards inclusion, access to all types of communication and, the main goal: ACCEPTANCE.
Sadly, acceptance seems to be an uphill battle, a very heavy load at the moment. All the awareness talk, with all the negative views in the media, has made the conversation turn to the myth of the burdens of autism destroying families and overwhelming the society. The murders of autistic people (and other disabled people) are not viewed with shock, as a tragedy for the victim or even as a crime. Instead, murderers get all the sympathy, since everybody is so AWARE (scared) of autism.
But back to the epidemic theme: I believe there are many epidemics surrounding autism.
An epidemic of ignorance.
An epidemic of non-autistic voices speaking for us.
An epidemic of lack of respect for who we are.
An epidemic of lack of respect for our lives.
So, the next time people talk about the “devastating prognosis of this autism epidemic”, let’s remind them of the definition of “epidemic”, and that awareness as a propaganda to make us the enemies of all the dreams of families and society is indeed devastating. Devastating for us, autistics. Autism cannot be separated from us and we fear a future without acceptance.
Love this and shared on my page.
Amy you are so right,just because there are alot of people with autism doesnt make i an epidemic,what the epidemic is,is the people who think of autism that way.my son has autism he is my world and for anyone to call him a disease is not true of him or anyone with autism!!!!
Hopefully you will allow my comment to stand, thus proving that you are open-minded. Saying something is an epidemic does not necessarily imply that the PERSON is undesirable e.g. if I caught flu and someone said I was a victim of a flu epidemic, I wouldn’t take offence. “Epidemic” may be the wrong word but there are a lot of carers struggling to raise autistic children whose frustrations lead to frustrating behaviour. How can we solve this problem? Please don’t deny that it is a problem. And please do not delete my comment. If you want to convince people like me, you have to address our genuine concerns. We love our children but are often at a loss to deal with their autism. Let’s have an adult debate. By the way, the group I belong to, Galway Autism Partnership, has had at least one adult with autism address members on sensory issues and at least one of the group’s volunteers was an adult with autism, who worked with my son in an after-school group. So GAP does not exclude people with autism in the way you rightly criticise others for doing.
Amy your voice is heard! Keep advocating for change. We stand with you!
Exactly! Amy is a very powerful voice and great role model !
Couldn’t agree more. Ignorance begets ignorance and the only solution is to have more voices like Amy’s heard. Louder and more often.