Autism Is A Who-What-Where Now?


I honestly believed that, in this day and age, people had become accustomed to and had learned a little about autism.

Obviously I was wrong. Ignorance apparently still abounds, and no ignorance so obvious as this evening. D and I honestly couldn’t believe what we were hearing.

A door-to-door canvasser rang our doorbell, saying that she was asking people to sponsor a charity that helps premature babies with certain “diseases”, such as meningitis and autism.

Meningitis is most certainly a disease.

Autism? No, I really don’t think so. Diseases are curable (usually) and autism isn’t. It is something you’re born with; not a “disorder” as such, but the brain is wired differently to that of somebody who doesn’t have autism.

D politely informed the young lady that we do know about autism because of my autistic son. Thankfully she apologised for taking up our time and left, rather than attempting to press the issue. She would probably have caused me to come to the door and say something had she persued it, just so that I could tell her that autism is not a disease.

I mentioned this on Facebook, and my sister responded to tell me that, during the college course she took, she was asked to write a paper on childhood diseases. She chose autism from the list in order to tell everybody that autism is not a disease and is just the way that some of us are born. Good for her!

Why do people even still believe that autism is an illness and probably curable in this day and age?

We are who we are. We are not sick and we can’t be “cured”. A good many of us wouldn’t want to be cured because we enjoy being quirky, likeable, geeky goofballs. I can’t speak for my son, and he can’t speak for himself, but I know that he is generally a happy young man – he says he is, in his own semi-non-verbal way, and I am inclined to believe him when I see that enormous smile on his beautiful face. He has so much love from people in his life, because he is a wonderful human being.

He is wonderful because of how his brain works – not in spite of it.

As for me? I dislike being misunderstood as often as I am, but I am generally happy. My autistically wired brain is complex and strange and imaginative and wonderful, and it gives me a great deal of pleasure through hobbies that I may otherwise not have picked up. Perhaps I never fitted in with the “cool kids” in school, but my intelligence was respected and the “geeks” accepted me in to their fold, as it were. I have always been – and always will be – a geek, and I wave that flag proudly.

Whoever you are, wherever you are… embrace your quirks and your hobbies. Be you.

Autism is not a disease. In many ways it can be a blessing.

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About The Hairy Housewife

Media volunteer for Epilepsy Action (UK) and advocate for both epilepsy and autism awareness. Seamstress, cross-stitcher, sci-fi lover, ukulele player and Chelmsford's own Pickling Pagan who wants to inherit a TARDIS when she grows up. In the process of writing an as yet unnamed book, with anecdotes and information about being epileptic and autistic - and seeing the funny side! Also an entertainment journalist for What Culture, where I write about Doctor Who.
This entry was posted in "Mutants", Acceptance, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, Attitudes, Autism, Autism Awareness, Born This Way, Charity, Facebook, Geekiness, Hobbies, Neurological, Positivity, Proud Parent Of An Autistic Child, Proud To Be Autistic, Proud To Be Me, Self-worth. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Autism Is A Who-What-Where Now?

  1. Hear hear! B’s parents tried to drag him to some quack who said he could CURE B’s Asperger’s though really intense, nasty kelation therapy and a diet change. We were real new to the game — B had just gotten a test done that indicated he had it — and thankfully I had a friend who worked with autistic kids and I asked her. After she told me that it can’t be cured (which is what I had been reading online), I told B. And B fought tooth and nail with his parents to not go. Recently they started bothering him again about this laser treatment they heard of. Apparently there’s been some result in the UK about it being some sort of cure for autism. I rolled my eyes and Brad just flat out refused to go. I don’t think he’d take a cure even if there was one and I think that’s fine. I love him as he is.

    • All this chelation business is a load of rubbish indeed! Dietary changes *can* help (R is coeliac and his behaviour improved markedly on going gluten free – but he can be violent and this isn’t a neccessary for many autistic people) but not much else beyond medication can.

      D loves me just as I am, and I wouldn’t change a thing about R. Autism is often a blessing and NEVER a curse :)

      • It makes me angry that people tote these “cures.” And it makes me angry and sad that people go to these snake oil salesmen. I have read that diet can help some people but it’s not a cure-all and it gets varied results. I’m glad that it’s helped R so much!

        Definitely! I love the way B’s brain works. It’s kinda sexy when he gets to braining ;)

  2. willowdot21 says:

    God save us from ignorance!! Keep on shouting Rose you are a light to us all!

  3. It’s going to be a long road to educate people and make them understand, but we can’t give up and won’t give up. Let’s have a cheer to being different!

  4. littlesundog says:

    You are amazing!! I love your passion to help others understand autism and epilepsy. I think many times people wish to remain ignorant. Until, of course, they have such an experience or someone close to them does. Only then are they willing to have understanding. Many times I tried to explain the reason for my infertility, and discovered not far into the conversation that many people have no earthly clue how the human body works, and how conception is achieved. Even after giving them a small lesson on anatomy and how various organs function, they’ll still come up with myths and old wives tales – untruths that have been believed for centuries.

    • People have often accused me of “giving up” on my son or “not being bothered enough” because I sent him in to foster care. I will never get these ignorant, sanctimonious people to understand that I did what I had to because it was the best thing for both of us. How can a person with an unpredictable condition such as epilepsy possibly hope to deal with a profound autist with a temper? If I had to try and deal with R during a meltdown he’d swing me about like a ragdoll – it takes his foster dad and his daughter to prevent R hurting himself and others.

      I am also selfish for being sterlised at such a young age apparently, when others are desperate for children but cannot, for whatever reason, have them. I don’t think it’s selfish to think of the son I already have and the physical and emotional drain that even an NT child would have on me. Better to be sterilised than to be a parent who cannot meet her child’s needs – and since my disability would make me “that parent” I feel that I did the only responsible thing I could do.

      I am so sorry about your infertility. You would have been a wonderful mother *hugs* xx

      • Sorry to but in, but after reading your latest comment about being sterilised, I have to say I take my hat off to you. That must have taken some guts! I am a teacher who works with all kinds of children with learning difficulties, from mild autism to ADHD and some parents couldn’t care less for their kids, sending them as far away from them as possible (from China, for example) to our boarding school in England, and sometimes I wonder why on Earth they didn’t get sterilised, when they are obviously not interested in being a parent. You have no idea how much this traumatises a child and it’s just not fair!

        My admiration for you, Missus Tribble, keeps growing and growing. It can’t have been easy to put your child in foster care, and I know you did it for all the right reasons.

      • Thank you so much for the kind words Fatima – they really do mean a lot to me.

        You’re right; placing R in foster care is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but for both our sakes it was the only way forward. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t miss him, and I have pictures of him everywhere. Sterilisation wasn’t exactly a choice either – my genetic makeup means that I would continue to have autistic children and I would need to be well enough to cope – and I’m not. To have more children simply because I might have liked to would be terribly selfish of me since my disability means I couldn’t possibly take that responsibility and care for them in the manner that they deserve.

  5. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Autism was in the list of choices for your sister at college? Those in the profession of knowledge don’t know!! My gosh, I truly hope your sister’s piece changed some people’s ideas.

    Great write this, and I wish more could read it.

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