First things first, I suppose a little introduction is in order. They usually make me uncomfortable but since we don’t have to guess who is going to go first this should be a little easier. Besides, there is nothing in this world I know more about than myself, the hard part will be keeping this short and sweet. I am 30 years old, and I just discovered a few weeks ago that I have Asperger's Syndrome. In the grand scheme of things this doesn’t change anything, I’m still exactly the same person I was before I figured out why I am so different, and yet at the microscopic level at which I examine myself it’s monumental. This has given me something I have searched my whole life for, perspective. I have found my voice. I hope to help others find theirs. Welcome to my world.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Missing Voice

I’ve been doing a lot of research these last few weeks. I have a driving need to find out exactly where Autism fits into my life so I can decide where to go from here. I’m shocked at what I have found. In mainstream coverage there is one thing significantly lacking. Where is the voice of Autism? How can people who have no idea what it is like to have Autism claim to know all the answers about how it affects your life and what you should do to “cure” it? Why are we listening to the NT parents of Autistic children and not listening to the adults who have lived with this their whole life? Those same adults who were once children with Autism.

I see a general sense of panic happening over the issue of Autism, and I don’t really see the point in that. I’m all about getting the stats out there but this tendency to react with horror and disbelief is a little childish in the face of the facts. An average of 1 in 150 children are on the Autistic Spectrum, and I agree these numbers are staggering, but they are not new despite their relatively recent appearance. If 1 in 150 children have Autism then 1 in 150 adults have Autism. You grew up beside us, the quiet kid at the back or the class clown. You worked beside us and maybe once in awhile wondered where our minds were wandering off to. You sat beside us in the coffee shop and wondered what book we were reading. You sat beside us in the movie theatre and didn’t even know we were there. Autism isn’t new, people panicking about it is.

This rush to find a cure frustrates me. How many Autistic people did they talk to before they decided we need a cure and how much of this push is coming from parents who just want a “normal” child. I’m amazed that people who consider themselves intelligent and rational are buying into and contributing to this hype. I’m even more amazed that they perceive this as the whole truth when it is so blatantly half of the story. Digging deeper the real story is there, the endless accounts of people who have lived with this their whole life. Acceptance of who they are. An overall sense of confusion about why the world can’t accept them as they are as well. People who know that like everything else in life it isn’t all bad, that the upsides to being Autistic more than balance it out. People who wouldn’t want to be NT for all the money in the world. Oddly enough, I haven’t found anyone with Autism screaming for a cure.

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