Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Would you choose Autism?

With fall fast approaching I've already begun thinking about Christmas gifts. I know it sounds crazy but when you have as many people on your shopping list as I do you have to start early. I received an email advertisement from Cafe Press (I love this site) regarding free shipping on all custom t-shirts, so I thought I'd look for some Autism shirts for my son's teachers. If you do a generic search with "Autism" the results are staggering. There are countless t-shirts, hats, stickers, bags, etc...with Autism related slogans. What struck me time and again though were the shirts with messages saying we should embrace Autism and not try to cure it - like: "Autism: Something to be understood, not cured." ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?

Sadly, there is a growing number of people that believe that Autism is who a person is and therefore is not something we should try to change. For the many caregivers of individuals with Autism, I can only imagine that this is a coping technique that allows you to make it through the hard days. I can't believe that a rational person would look at someone they love who is suffering - and I choose that word intentionally because I have seen my two children suffer - who would look at someone they love who is suffering and decide that Autism is who they are and not something to eradicate? I can't, for the life of me, understand this way of thinking. And to those individuals with Autism who have voiced this same opinion of acceptance instead of intervention, I mean no disrespect, but the mere fact that you are able to voice this opinion puts you in a different category than my son who cries and becomes aggressive out of frustration because he is unable to voice his wants and needs. Who would choose that? Who would choose to be unable to communicate when they are in pain? Who would choose to be unable to care for themselves in adulthood? Who would choose to be a teenager who still needs to wear a diaper? Who would choose these things? NO ONE!

I'll tell you what I know about Autism: it is a destructive neurological disorder that left untreated, ruins lives. It is not something to embrace nor is it something to accept. Autism claims 1 in 150 children born today and it needs not only our attention, but more importantly our action.

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