Saturday, November 05, 2005

Autism in the News

There is a lot of media coverage of Autism lately. ABC especially seems to have something about Autism on every week or so. The problem I have with it is most of the coverage is about high functioning children.

When we think of Autism we tend to think of the movie Rain Man just as we think of Corky from Life Goes On when we think of Down Syndrome. I wish it were so in reality. Autism is a spectrum disorder. There are many levels.

Some on the spectrum will participate in normal education and succeed well. Perhaps the most well known person to experience Autism is Temple Grandin, PhD who has authored numerous books on Autism and Animal Behavior (she has a PhD in Animal Sciences), is a professor at Colorado State University, travels most weekends speaking on one or the other of her two areas of expertise, is independent and thriving.

Many who experience Autism are on the other end of the spectrum. Some are not able to meet any of their personal care needs or achieve any degree of independence. They may need round the clock care for their entire lives. My own son, Billy Ray, for example, is so complicated that he doesn't really fit into any established programs. Everything must be totally adapted for his unique needs.

I wrote about the low functioning recently in my October post called Low Functioning..Not No Functioning if you want to review that post.

I appreciate the media attention to Autism especially since it is occurring in epidemic proportions now. However, I don't think always featuring those on the high functioning end of the spectrum gives the whole picture.

Until tomorrow,
Peggy Lou

1 comment:

Susan Senator said...

Peggy Lou,
This is beautiful and wise. You have hit the nail on the head regarding the word "retarded." I have thought a lot about this word myself. I have tried to (nicely) correct people when they use it, but lately I have given up because its use is so prevalent! I'm glad to have your thoughts on how we are all retarded in one way or another. As Seinfeld said, "Not that there's anything wrong with it!" :-)