Society’s View on Mental Disabilities (Autism)
Autism is known as a complex developmental disability. Experts believe that autism presents itself during the first three years of a person's life. The condition is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person's communication and social interaction skills. People with autism have issues with non-verbal communication, a wide range of social interactions, and activities that include an element of play or banter. “Today, it is estimated that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined” (What is Autism 2011). “Studies suggest boys are more likely than girls to develop autism and receive the diagnosis three to four times more frequently. People who have autism often have delayed language development.” (Autism Fact Sheet 2011) They usually have trouble with social interactions. Another characteristic of autism is what some people describe as “sensory overload”: Sounds seem louder, lights brighter, or smells stronger. Not everybody with autism has the exact same symptoms. Some people may have autism that is mild, while others may have autism that is more severe. Society’s view, or an outsider’s view on autism, is in most cases demeaning and condescending. Those with autism are treated like lesser beings solely because of their difficulties in the area of communication. When dealing with someone who has autism, the “neurotypical” will in most cases, more often than not, assume that they are “stupid” or “unintelligent” because of their inability to express their feelings or hold a normal conversation. The minority (unfortunately) of society, however, falls into the category of those who embrace the “new paradigm”. They make a valiant effort to truly understand what it is like to live with autism and to understand how the autistic mind works. They are not demeaning in nature, and do not label anyone as having a “disability”. “The idea that autistic people do not want to communicate and would rather be isolated and the idea that they do not desire companionship are completely and utterly false.” (What is Autism 2011) People ignorantly and automatically assume that someone with autism would rather be alone, solely because of the actions and behaviors that they so commonly exhibit. They do not take the time to sit down with and talk to someone with autism, having total disregard for how the autistic mind works. They take the easy way out and in most cases, do not even display a valiant and on-going effort to try and be acquaintances. It is apparent that “neurotypical” and autistic people hold the same needs, and it is crucial to treat someone with a disability just as you would anyone else. Partially reading Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone has drastically changed my views regarding people with autism. Biklen has shed light on a whole new area of the disability, somewhere that most “neurotypical” people never get a chance to look at. His book is unbiased, yet revealing in nature; a feat that no prior author was able to accomplish. He reveals the true feelings and mindset of those with autism, without penalizing the average reader for their shallow vies. Ultimately, it is vital that we, as a whole, take more time to accept, appreciate, and understand those with autism and other disabilities alike. Patience is a virtue, and without it, both parties are at a loss; the “neurotypical” will continue to hold onto their malformed myths, and the person with autism will continue to feel demeaned, as they were not given the chance to express their feelings. If you still lay unconvinced that people with autism are not isolated and are not alone in their own world, and you plan on jumping on the band wagon with the rest of society, then you should take Sue Rubin’s most powerful...
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