Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Even with the best of motivations, sometimes organizations make mistakes. It sounds like The NYU Child Study Center had the very best of intentions with their new ad campaign, but it is unfortunate that it reinforces negative stereotypes of the very people that they are trying to help. Although we definitely have daily problems and worries associated with autism, and I wish that my kids didn't have to deal with it, they don't need "rescuing"...they need support and acceptance to make their lives better.

I find the idea of "ransom notes" particularly children are autistic- they were not "kidnapped", and have not been taken hostage by this is part of who they are. I would definitely prefer that they didn't have to struggle every day, but if they were not autistic they would NOT be the wonderful people that they are...they might be wonderful in a different way, but autism has not ruined their lives (or mine, for that matter). They are not a "detriment" to the people around them (check out the ADHD "ransom note")- in fact, I've been told many times by their workers and doctors that their lives are richer for having known them.

While I know that NYU is doing some great work, and I am sure that they had the best of intentions with this ad campaign, I find it incredibly frustrating that they are trying to make my children (and people who share a psychiatric diagnosis) objects of pity and fear. I have long ago come to some kind of acknowledgment within myself that they will never get all of the help and support that they deserve in order to help them live their lives to the fullest, but it is painful and appalling to me that the organizations who are most in a position to support them apparently still view them as objects of pity and scorn.

If you have a minute, please write a simple email to one of the addresses in the link. Changing social views of autistic people is a slow process, but it will make the world of difference to my kids, at least, and they deserve to be seen as the wonderful, talented, loving, and "useful" people that they are, and not just as people who have been taken "hostage" by a trick of birth.


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