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3 Things to Know About Autism, From the Parent of a Child on the Spectrum

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“Make America great again” is a refrain that echoes through the collective American consciousness. I find myself wondering what will be the defining moment(s) or policies that will return America to her glory? How will we know when America is great, again? What does that look like, feel like, sound like?

President Trump spoke of empowering the American people in his inauguration speech, saying: “Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another. But we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.”

Does this mean that America will be great when the will of the people guides the policies that shape our national agenda?

Some pages of the White House website have been removed since President Trump was inaugurated, including the disability section. If the pages were simply being updated, what is the harm in leaving the old ones up until such a time the new information is available? Is part of making American great again, limiting access to information?

As a parent of a child with nonverbal autism, I am most concerned with what I believe to be his lack of understanding of autism. Throughout the course of his campaign and in the early days of his presidency, President Trump has made numerous mentions of autism that in my opinion reflect a lack of understanding of the disorder. I believe he is spreading misinformation that is perpetuating stereotypes and misnomers about autism.

These are a few things I’d like everyone to know about autism.

1. A popular quote in the autism community frequently attributed to Stephen Shore is, “If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.” Some people with autism live independent lives, whereas others require more support. Similarly, some people with autism face additional challenges like learning differences or medical co-conditions (GI problems, chronic insomnia). It is important to recognize that autism is a spectrum disorder and affects each person differently; therefore, one should take care not to make over-generalizations about what autism is and is not.

2. Autism diagnoses are increasing, but there can be many reasons for this. According to a CBS News article, “the CDC said the rapid increase was likely a product of the change in diagnosis and the expansion of what was considered part of the autism spectrum, in addition to unknown causes that research may yet uncover.” No one knows the exact the cause of autism; however, there is consensus among the medical community that immunizations are not the cause.

3. Autism can bring challenges, but it is also beautiful. I firmly believe my daughter would not the person she is, the person I love dearly, if she didn’t have autism.

Editor’s note: This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

Follow this journey on Kacie’s blog.

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Thinkstock image by Nastco

Originally published: March 14, 2017
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