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.