My Letter To CNN
Autism is a word that is thrown around every so often; usually in regards to education or discrimination. However, most of the time, the news stories that get out about someone with Autism are only those stories concerning people on the low-functioning end of the spectrum. The spectrum spans great farther than that, but most people, unless directly affected by Autism, know next to nothing of the spectrum.
There are many people in this country with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome who are working hard every day to live and exist beside everyone else (so-called “normals” or “neurotypicals”). Are they equals of normal socially developed human beings? Why has no one done a story on the adults in this world? Why has no one investigated the various discriminations that these people face on a daily basis?
Employers discriminate against them for not having good enough social skills during interviews; even if social skills are not readily required by the field that they are interested in.
There are few to no resources available to adults on the spectrum; resources like social skills training, help with health insurance coverage, or any government programs specifically designed to help with finding housing or doing day to day tasks (executive dysfunction is often found on the spectrum; plus doing tasks like renting an apartment require social skills).
News coverage and general knowledge and understanding of adults on the spectrum is sketchy at best, and mostly unheard of. Some people aren’t even aware that children aren’t the only ones who have autism. There are also several misconceptions about autism running rampant through this country. For example, there is a misconception that people on the spectrum have no sense of humor or sense of empathy. It is apparent to those on the spectrum that the researchers putting forth these preposterous claims have never bothered to actually converse and listen to what people on the spectrum have to say about their lives. You need to go to the people and ask them personally.
The rates of autism are increasing every year. Someone needs to pay attention to these issues now; someone needs to start educating the public about the prejudice and hardships of everyday life that these people face constantly.
They are the future constituents of this country. They are the future parents of the children in this country. Someday they will the senior citizens of this country. As with the baby boomers, their numbers are increasing exponentially. They need a voice to help educate the rest of the world what kind of people this spectrum represents.
One final issue that needs to be discussed is the pros and cons of a possible autism cure, should one ever be developed. There are people out there who advocate finding a cure for Autism. These people do not represent the views of the majority of those on the spectrum.
If you ask the average person on the spectrum about their opinion on the idea of the cure, you’re likely to get a long diatribe against “NTs/NeuroTypicals” and their intolerance of those who are different.
Did you know that most experts think that 90%-100% of autistic school children experience bullying at the hands of “NTs”?
Most of the people on the spectrum are anti-cure. The underlying belief being this:
With Autism, if you take away the bad, you also take away the good. Think of all the people that the historians now believe to have been autistic, in addition to those still in existence: Bill Gates, Einstein, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo . . . the list continues.
Would you rid the future of other such possible creations of human diversity? That’s what the pro-cure people don’t seem to understand.
I have a bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education. I graduated in the top 10% of my class in undergrad. I’m currently attending Texas Woman’s University pursuing an MA in Music Therapy. I’m diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
There are others like me. But our country doesn’t know about us.
I think this would be an extremely important story to put together in these days of extreme neurodiversity. I hope you consider my request.