Many people look at autism and fail to see a cultural topic. After all, autism affects people of all races, religions, and statures. Regardless of your beliefs or ethnic background, chances are you know someone whose life is touched by this disorder. According to the Autism Society of America, one to 1.5 million Americans live with autism at some degree.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), defines autism as a wide range of behaviors that leave children less able to interact with the world. Autistic individuals present deficits in three key areas:
- Verbal and nonverbal communication
- Social awareness and interactions
- Imaginative play
The recent rise in autism awareness has led many to believe in a movement that sees autism as a culture of unique individuals. Those who support this theory consider autism a distinctive way of being and seeing the world, a disorder that requires no cure. Members of this society sometimes referred to as Aspie World; scream out for acknowledgment and acceptance. Communities of autistic people band together to provide support, and interact with others who live in their world.
Advocacy groups, like The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP), discuss medical advancements for prenatal testing and phrases such as Neurodiversity become part of every day conversation.
While autistic individuals want acceptance, parents of autistic children want answers. Autism is a developmental disability with unclear etiology. Parents want to know why and scramble to understand. They live in a society that sees their children as flawed. The parents must deal with ignorance, and a school system still learning to educate autistic children.
As the saga of autism continues, there will be many more issues and more questions. The increase in the rate of diagnosis and the improvement of education will expand on the theory that autism is more than just a neurological disorder; it is a way of being. As time moves on, the children who live in the world of autism will become modern day adults that want acknowledgment. They will strive to exist in a universe that sees them differently. Adults diagnosed with autism will ask their voices be heard when they state, “Stop trying to fix me.”
Aspies for Freedom: http://aspiesforfreedom.com/
Aspergers Syndrome: Living in Another World: http://aspergeradults.ca/Blog/2009/05/aspergers-syndrome-living-in-another-world/
The National Autistic Society: http://www.autism.org.uk/