Thanks to a UN Resolution (and props to the State of Qatar for leading the charge on this), April 2 will from here on be World Autism Awareness Day.
My first request would be to ask friends and family to observe today by becoming more educated about autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The media have been cranking out human interest pieces about it for weeks and CNN – and perhaps others – are running comprehensive programming today about ASDs.
One thing to realize is that this is pretty much Autism 101 stuff, but it’s as good a place as any to start. Just keep in mind, sensationalism creeps into media reporting about autism just like everything else. There’s no substitute for researching, researching some more, and applying your BS detector to filter out politics and ego and separate fact from uncertainty from pure fiction.
Reading and research for us has been frustrating so far. There are so many agendas out there that finding good information upon which we can build a plan for J-Man is difficult. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. There is a lot of information based on God-knows-what kind of research. There’s so much the world doesn’t know that the vacuum is being filled by everyone with a theory or just plain wild ideas. The stakes are extremely high. As a result, it’s hard to know which ones to give more weight to than others once you get past the obvious bull.
Joining the ‘autism community’ has been like joining Christianity after living your whole life in another galaxy. It feels like people are dividing themselves up into denominations and beliefs about what causes autism and what will treat it or even cure it. Some hold on to these with the fervor of fundamentalism. This has been the saddest realization for me. We just want to help our son; we don’t need all this other baggage. And we don’t need agendas. And like Christianity, there are some things I don’t think these denominations will ever agree on.
So if I can put this forward for raising awareness, it’s that what you see and hear about autism is only the tip of a very large, very fractured, and very shaky iceberg. There’s no substitute for learning and time. It won’t fit into one day, but it’s a start.