Thursday, 16 June 2011

Why is Autism Trendy Right Now?

'Mum, you know that award that's in the downstairs loo, the one you got for blogging',

'Yes, Lyla'

'Well, that proves that you've tried very hard to understand me- some people don't, you know?


'Yes, some people don't care about autism at all, but you do...and I mean it you know, mum I mean it here, right here in my heart'

I catch my breath. Sometimes things Lyla says are so direct I'm momentarily stunned (of course, it helps that she's saying something deeply complementary....!) The conversations which start with a statement like 'So you never remembered to put suntan lotion on when you were young....that's why you've so many wrinkles' tend to be batted off by a mental reflex which has processed far greater insults.

It made me wonder though, how well people understand autism?

It's certainly a hot topic in the media at the moment- especially if your guilty pleasures extend to an addiction to the Mail Online. Enough said.

It's something that Todd Drezner addresses in Autism: The Most Popular Disability

He suggests that autism is a surprising disability. Parents start thinking they are raising a typical child.  But when they get the autism diagnosis, they they are forcd to examine and confront their ideas and preconceptions about disability.

I'd also suggest that autism is the subject of cultural fascination because at it's core, it's enigmatic. We might understand the theory of the triad of impairments, but still be totally incapable of reaching a person with autism and getting inside their world.

Can we ever really understand autism?

Since no two people with autism are the same, that would be a very difficult thing.

Of course we can understand common themes, that people with autism share, but taking the time to understand a person with autism, to interpret their behaviour, and give them what they need takes an awful lot of time and determination.

If a rise in awareness of autism leads to other people caring about autism and valuing kids like Lyla  that will be a very good thing.


  1. Well said. It really is a hidden disability, especially with those children with HFA, where it isn't automatically obvious. They are hard work, but we can certainly learn from them!

  2. What a beautiful post and a real insight

  3. That comment there, no two ppl with autism are the same, that's really important to get across.

  4. My son says that I am the one person in the world who understands him, but he's wrong, I just try. Most of the time I am perplexed. I never knew there were people who think so differently, and I an very glad that autism is being discussed so much now. I just hope it will improve the lives of people with autism and their families.

  5. 'The conversations which start with a statement like 'So you never remembered to put suntan lotion on when you were young....that's why you've so many wrinkles' tend to be batted off by a mental reflex which has processed far greater insults.'

    you know, i find this as beautiful as the.. meaning it in the heart comment.. it's a simple observation, no malice. sometimes i wonder who are the ones with the disability.. we can be such sensitive creatures. i don't know much about autism, but i do like this simple honesty.. without any of societies imposed restraints on personal expression.

    i hope there's a rise in awareness. after reading this i now want to try and discover more about autism. lovely post.

    hopped over here from Spirit Whispers :)

  6. Deep and beautifully said (you and Lyla). And the mail online? Really Rachel! Hope to see you vv soonxx

  7. Hi dear Rachel - interesting post and I so agree. The time it takes to to understand that individual is immense. Just tonight G repeated a question he knew the answer too and when I showed my frustration he showed his frustration at not knowing how to 'be' different, and then guilt and all the rest of it kicks in. It's not just the understanding sometimes, but the tireless patience and giving, to withstand a siege of difference that is so waring for others (us) to deal with. Feeling worn out at the moment, but so good to meet and chat over lunch yesterday and remember that I am not the only one that finds ways to manage the endless fatigue that goes with parenting unusual ASD kids! *sigh* hugs to you :)


  8. Your Lyla is very perceptive;-)Autism really does seem to mre talked about these days alright. Have you noticed how often an Autistic character appears in novels/thrillers and TV programmes these days? I always pride myself on spotting it right away even though they try to make it a bit mysterious!!

    xx Jazzy


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