Monday, May 20, 2013

The media, the Internet and the face of autism

Are you intrigued? It sounds like the title of a thesis, doesn't it?
It is in fact just a small personal rant!

Autism is talked about more and more in the media and social media. That's a good thing of course, the intent being to make the general public more aware and to promote acceptance. Medical documentaries or the sharing of scientific articles is very important for that, as they help people better understand the disorder and the magnitude of the spectrum.

But there seems to be a tremendous amount of videos and articles that show children or adults on the spectrum who have become astrophysicists, have written books, have invented revolutionary things, etc.
And it annoys me!

Please don't misunderstand, I'm not against the whole concept! Of course, it's important to share these achievements, these success stories, in order not to limit the image of autism to that of Rain Man. And obviously, for any parent, or member of the family of an autistic child, it's an important source of hope which allows not to think of this disorder as a sentence and to remain positive in order to give autistic children all the tools, all the opportunities, and all the support we can for them to reach their potential.

But beyond the hope it provides, I find it a very limited image of the spectrum that is autism. It is one of the ends of the spectrum, that of succes, of high-functioning, of higher-than-average intelligence. And it is true that there are many people on the spectrum who are like that. But there are also many autistic people who remain non-verbal, or who are never able to function in society, or who also have an intellectual disability.
The result is that many people, sometimes friends and family, think that all children on the spectrum have a brilliant future. It seems to me that it could give false hope to some, or justify a certain degree of denial of what the reality is.
It is not a good representation of the scale of the spectrum and I think it can even damage the integration and acceptance efforts by giving a false image or at least a limited one.

On my blog, in any case, you can expect to hear about Cédric's successes, and if he becomes an astrophysicist or discovers a way of squaring the circle, I promise to shout it on the rooftops. But you can also expect to hear about intestinal issues, language delays, specialized classes and even specialized programs, sensory needs, ... an honest representation of our everyday life.
In fact, the next post will be about poo :D

1 comment:

Please share you thought with me!