As we approach April 2 – World Autism Awareness Day as designated by the United Nations, it is a perfect time to reflect on what this all means.
Anyone that has been living the autism life for awhile – in my case for the past 22 years as a parent – recognizes that autism awareness has increased by leaps and bounds to what it was in the past decades.
Many self advocates would prefer that this day and the other 364 days of the year focus on Acceptance. Acceptance that people are who they are and finding a cure for autism will not and should not be the focus of some major autism groups. Rather, accept the challenges individuals with autism face and become a community that will find and provide the supports so that autistic individuals can be contributing members to society.
Autism is often referred to being born with “a different operating system” One that is not recognized by the masses. Autism doesn’t not make anyone less, it only makes them different. Society is not good at assimilating those with differences, we tend to think of the mainstream as normal or typical and everyone else should fit in.
The prevalence of autism is now 1 in 68. We don’t have numbers of how many people in Canada are affected by autism. We do know that early detection and early intervention can assist children in functioning better in our society. What statistics don’t show is the high number of unemployed or under employed adults there are. Those of us that have adult children know all too well the barriers they face as they strive to be employed. In a society that does not recognize invisible disabilities, many adults with autism are not receiving the supports and accommodations they require to assist them in getting out of their parents' basement and into a job where they can support themselves.
So as we come up to WAAD 2016, let’s advocate for Acceptance. For governments to recognize that support can go a long way towards an individual becoming a tax paying citizen instead of a user of the system, for businesses to tap into the talents and skills of individuals with autism and recognize that they can be a valuable asset, for health care systems to find a way to shorten the wait lists for therapies.
Listen to the voices of autistic individuals – they have a lot to say that really makes good sense!