For a long time autism has been a dirty and misunderstood word. Even today, for many people, the mention of the word autism triggers alarm bells and starts them thinking “lost cause”. It doesn’t help that media and society often portrays negative images, and that most people only know autism as ‘Rainman’, children rocking in the corner, or out of control youths that destroy property and family relationships with their violence and aggravation. With around 1 out of every 160 children being diagnosed with autism, it may be time to change the way we look at autism.
People with autism are not some special breed of that need to be branded and shoved off in a corner somewhere. Like anyone else, people with autism are beautiful and amazing beings that we could all learn a lot from. They only become people with autism when we start comparing certain aspects of their processing and functioning with that of a perceived “typical person”. Maybe we should change the word we use to describe autism from ‘disorder’ to ‘difference’. This puts everyone on a level playing field, as we are all ultimately different and unique in our own way. We all have talents and we all have strengths and weaknesses.
The diagnosis of autism is increasing readily. Perhaps it’s time that the gifts people with autism bring to our lives be more widely recognised. Starting today, try removing the comparisons from all things in life – try seeing things for simply as they are. The more this happens in our world, the more likely it will be that autism will take on positive images in our society, and eventually people will begin to change the way they look at autism.