Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Beyond Autism Stereotypes

 “So is it true that to bring on labor, Indian women drink a glass of water in which their MIL has dipped their toe”?

 One of R’s lead therapists asks me breathlessly one day

 She has just returned from adoption training and they are sensitizing them to the different cultures that they may adopt a child.

 “Never heard of it?” I smile back “Maybe true in some part of India - India is a huge -it would be like me meeting the Amish people and then assuming that all Westerners avoided  technology

 In the past I have been asked about baby throwing, eyeball eating ( thank you Indiana Jones) and elephant  ownership( I wish ) .

 Here is my problem with stereotypes.

 While many are based in truth – none are completely true.

 It’s the same with Autism stereotypes.

  People who don’t know much about Autism will meet R will tell us  “he does not seem  really autistic at all .. he just seems different”

 He does not seem ASD – to those that do not know Autism - because he does not fit the media  stereotype of either the unhappy child in his own world or the intellectual savant that will help you win at cards

 The media specializes in extremes and stereotypes  

 The reality ? Not so much

 April is the month of Autism Awareness.

 Many of my kind - Special needs mums and dads are sharing their stories

 Each  of our stories is different because the way Autism has so many versions and our kids have their own unique personalities  

( Even though from a distance we look alike  )

 Because of the hard work of many organizations- Autism awareness today is different that Autism awareness 10 years ago.

 Characters with autism /autistic traits are starting to show in Mainstream media regularly – Max on Parenthood , Lizbeth Salander in the Millenium series, Mr Monk etc

 I think as a society most of us are aware of  Autism

 But I think what we still have a way to go with Autism understanding and acceptance

 And in thinking beyond stereotypes

 For  autistic kids are all unique individuals – just like typically developing   kids

 Autistic children are not defined by their autism, just as typically developing kids are not defined by their typicalness

 And that is what I want to say in the month of Autism Awareness

K blogs about her life and her charming 6 year old son who has Autism at Floortime Lite Mama