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?

'Really?'

'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.
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