What is Autism?

Over the past twenty-three years, I have had the privilege to work with families of people with disabilities from Autism to XYY syndrome. Lately, for better or worse, one of those disabilities has been getting a lot more attention than usual.

“For one day, I would just like to feel what it’s like to know that my daughter will not scream if the cupcakes have pink rather than blue wrappers or that when a classmate greets her she will respond appropriately. I see other kids going through life just being typical kids, and from where I stand, everything that they do that their parents take for granted strikes me as a small miracle. I would just like to feel that my daughter would not need a miracle to have an uneventful good day.”

From the OAISIS Guide to Asperger Syndrome (p. 133)

The good part is that more research, more programs and more funding is now focused on Autism. The down side is that there is also more information out on the Internet that is biased or just downright wrong.  Without pointing fingers at any one group or website, I’d like to take this opportunity to give some plain facts.

Autism is a disability. Saying that people with Autism just have a ‘different way of thinking’ and that if the rest of the world would change to accommodate them, it would be okay probably isn’t true and is entirely irrelevant. People who are deaf might not be at a disadvantage if everyone used sign language but it is not going to happen.

This is not to say that some people with Autism cannot attend college, get good jobs and live independently. Some can. Some people with visual impairments or deafness also accomplish a great deal. They still have a disability that is permanent. So do people with Autism.