Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Very interesting report on autism from the autistic point of view

As I was watching the CBC news last night, I got to watch a very interesting program on autism, which presented the world of autism from a the point of view of people who are living with it.

Thinking about what I saw, it made me think back to a long-standing argument that many have in the hearing impaired community. There are people who are deaf who feel that society shouldn't burden their children with the need or desire to learn how to speak or to use hearing aids. They think that using cochlear implants is wrong because you're introducing an object and disfiguring a child for the sake of making him or her more "normal." Not all feel that way, but there is that community of people who do.

Watching the special on autism last night, I realized they have the same issues. There are parents of autistic children who do and try everything to help their children live a more "normal" life, and there are others who feel that their child doesn't need to be "fixed," and that autism is part of their personality.

There were three adults with autism, from rather varying spectrums, but not from the very severe angle. There was one man who seemed "perfectly normal," for want of a better description. There was a woman who was very articulate, more so than many people I know, obviously very smart, but with some self-admitted behaviours that can make people feel that she's not normal and she should be shunned. Finally, there was a third woman, also obviously very intelligent, who spoke through a voice synthesizer and needed some help at home in order to maintain her independence, such as housekeeping and meals.

All three were happy with who they were and how they presented to the world. The mother of a boy with autism also spoke about how she believed in letting her child develop as he is, without being pushed to conform to society's so-called norms.

I was very interested as I was watching, and I do believe them. The woman who needed help made an excellent point when talking about what made people be considered independent or dependent.

But, I do have to wonder about the children and adults who aren't able to make it in this world because their autism is so severe. Should there not be an attempt to "fix" this to help the child become an adult who doesn't have to be watched and cared for? it's not a sin to have watched over and cared for. I know from personal experience as my 34 year old brother has Down Syndrome, but *if* you can help a child to a point where he or she can be more independent, isn't that a good thing?

I'm not sure what I think, but I did really appreciate being able to see that piece.