I recently read an article about Autism, as I do many that pop onto my radar via social media. I don’t often agree with everything I read, just as you may not agree with everything I write. Heck, maybe you are upset I even suggested Asperger’s was Autism. I am simply using the term because today many different disorders are considered to be on the spectrum, not because of my personal opinion about it. That aside, the article was focused on the large increase of children considered to be “on the spectrum”. This is isn’t the first time I have seen ASD painted like some new up and coming trend that had far too many people jumping on the bandwagon. Is the awareness and the number of diagnosed cases greater than before? Yes. Does that make it the cool new thing that any parent wishes for and would do anything to have to face? NO! Look, we all love our kids unconditionally and every person has their own set of strengths and struggles. With that said it’s time to clear up a few things about “Autism Parents” and the idea of a trend setting diagnosis:
- While we can all appreciate the beauty in individuality and love our children, I don’t know anyone that would choose or want to see their child struggle just to be part of something.
- There are days that are just downright beautiful in the Autism world and oftentimes I wish others could see or learn what I have because of it. In fact, I think the world would be a far better place if it were that way. However, there are days when your child is having an incredibly tough time and that means that you are too. Our life’s struggles build who we are, but I sure don’t see having a household of struggling individuals, siblings, and parents as the “in” thing to do.
- A child who is on the spectrum may have certain characteristics, but it still amazes me that a ton of people out there think that individuals with Autism PDD-NOS, Asperger’s, or whatever you call it are all the same. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard an individual say that a child doesn’t “look autistic”. Um? Really? What’s next, “He doesn’t look diabetic; She doesn’t look like she has a heart condition”? I live with an autoimmune disease that affects me daily. Does that mean that I don’t live with any struggle because you may not see what I feel? When did we start doubting a person’s medical diagnosis based on the way they look? We are still at this point even with all the awareness out there. Autism doesn’t have a “look” a certain way. The only look that may be striking is the puzzled look on my face!
- “I wish my child would have gotten those services when they were young”, this is a comment that I hear very frequently from parents of older children who were not diagnosed or did not receive any therapy. I can hear the pain in their voice and the see the sadness in their eyes as they say it. Yet, too often I hear people making condescending remarks like, “Oh please, everyone has autism now days” or “It’s so over diagnosed”. There are tons of parents out there who wish today’s amount of awareness and resources were available when their child was young and struggling.
I could go on and on, but for the sake of your time I won’t. When people want to be trendy they may go buy a new purse, shirt, or go to a certain restaurant. People most certainly do not make up a diagnosis for their children so they can join the masses. Autism most certainly is not some fake and made up condition. It has no specifying look from the outside, but when you live it and when you see it first hand it becomes so loud and clear it can almost be deafening.
When you want to buy a purse you go to the mall. When your child is struggling you seek out the right resources and do everything you can to help them. Getting help for your child is the right thing to do. It is time our society starts supporting “Autism Families”, and stop treating them as though they are trying to be some kind of trend setters/followers by picking out something they saw in a popular magazine. The Autism world is very real and the only trend that needs to be associated with it is something called acceptance.
By Jessica Nieminski