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"I don't understand autism. Nobody had it years ago, now everyone has it and gets a personal budget from the government and all sorts of special services. How in the span of 20 years did we go from nobody having this to so many having it. Is this just a ploy to get free money when your child has a small issue that we all just dealt with?"
-Comment from http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2013/04/20/thousands-fundraise-walk-for-autism-at-moa/
"Autistics finding employment in high tech field? Folks, before you ponder this too much maybe you should consider what the stats are actually saying: A recent study by UK"s, National Autistic Society, found that only 3% of autistics were able to find full-time employment in any field. The study goes on to say that over 70% of autistics are unable to live independently. They either live with parents or in a residential care facility. As well, 11% of autistics say they have suffered at least one 'nervous breakdown'. Folks, autism is a serious long-term disability, and talk of autistic in any significant numbers thriving in high tech jobs is utter nonsense."
So, these articles came out within a few days of each other. The first article is a feature on the Fraser Autism Walk held last weekend, and the second article is from NPR, addressing Autism in the technology sector.
(Please don't get me started on the second one that just calls us 'autistics.')
Where's our place?
We are told to either beat it out of our children or institutionalize them.
We are bad parents if we ask for help, but we are bad parents if we think they can succeed.
Raise your hand if you've ever had a nervous breakdown. Raise your hand if you had to live with your parents after the age of 18 for any length of time. Raise your hand if you have had a difficult time finding a full time job that is a good match for you. And raise your hand if you depend on someone else for anything right now.
Are we really that different from the rest of the world? Different enough to say that the idea of thriving in a job is 'utter nonsense?'
We definitely aren't the same. We don't want to be the same. There is a quote from a Gallaudet University student back when the students went on strike. He said something along the lines of "I don't want to be like you. If I could suddenly hear, I would stick a pencil in my ear until I could not hear again."
Autism isn't something that needs to be eradicated or locked up or 'changed.' If we did that, we may still be at war with Japan, our mp3 players would seriously lacking in anything interesting (actually, we probably wouldn't have mp3 players at all). I wonder, if 50 years ago, society hadn't locked up most children with autism, if we would have a cure for cancer or AIDS or diabetes. Maybe we would've already colonized the moon or visited the depths of the sea. Maybe our economy wouldn't have crashed and maybe we would have a balanced budget.
Because I firmly believe that autism happens because God needs to even out the playing field for the rest of you.
I would spout off something about how each of us are children of loving Heavenly Parents
and that our God-given differences are what make the world go round. I believe that to be true, but I also know that I am becoming a minority when it comes to a belief in God.
So instead, I say this: Our place is here. With you. In your world. Playing at the park with your kids, going to the same schools, grocery stores. Living in your neighborhood. Maybe even working the same job that you do.
It is time to make room for us.