Autism Is Not the Problem

Throughout the mainstream media, we are practically bombarded with different things that are claimed to “cause” autism: Vaccinations. Diet. Environment. Drugs during pregnancy. Birth types. Gut health.

And you know what? I am absolutely sick of it.

As a wife who is married to an autistic man and a mother of two autistic children, I know the reality of autism and what it entails. I know the impact it has on my children and their education, friendships, learning, health and mental well-being – and I am talking about my two non-autistic girls, too — because siblings can be affected by autism in their own unique way. I know the impact being autistic has on my husband’s work life, daily coping mechanisms and overall functioning. I know the effect autism has on my marriage and friendships. I know the degree in which it touches my mental health and emotional well-being.

And you know what? If you don’t live it, you don’t know it.

So why am I sick of hearing about all these claims to the root of autism?

Because autism is not the problem. The problem is that our world is not set up to either embrace or accommodate neurodiversities.

It can’t be a coincidence that the people who dispute the labeling of autism, or claim that “everyone is diagnosed with autism” these days aren’t actually autistic people themselves. Because I know from immediate personal experience numerous times over that in fact the opposite is true.

And you can spin it however you like, you can attempt to sugarcoat it if you wish — but this is the core issue. People who are autistic do not need “curing” — others need their ignorance cured, and sadly, sometimes that isn’t achievable or possible. The truth is, we live in a society where difference or individuality is not always embraced; often it is feared. Children can be pushed from an early age to “fit in,” and many adults do their best to live life under the surface, unnoticed. People are generally afraid to buck the system or embrace their quirks because they are painted as “freaks” or “rebels.” The constant truth-searching and cause-finding makes families with autistic children or people married to autistic spouses feel like they are the problem. And we are not. The ignorance that surrounds autism and the fear of being slightly different, or needing things explained in a different way, or not reacting the same way to things that everyone else does — this is the problem.

Don’t think we don’t see your hushed tones. Don’t assume we aren’t listening.

Perhaps we are tired. Sick and tired of having to explain ourselves, justify our families and do our best not to disrupt your world and your perception of how you think life is. But we will keep educating and raising acceptance and breaking down those stereotypes because we know what our children are capable of, if they are supported adequately. And gaining that support for our children and loved ones is not an easy thing to do. Society, try as it may, is not set up to cater for autistic people. Not yet anyway. It is too rigid and inflexible. So that is why myself and fellow pioneers of awareness and acceptance are trying to expand that and push on those constraints. Gently, slowly, daily.

It isn’t about finding a “cure.” Autistic people are not “flawed,” and they are not “broken.” It is about acceptance and embracing the fact that many people in our world just don’t do things according to the timetable society has set out for them. It is about seeing things from different angles, and learning from autistic people. Because they have so much to share and so much knowledge to broaden our minds with; if only we could stop trying to make them do it our way and attempt to see the world through their eyes.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

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