The rise in the number of people diagnosed as autistic has caused the United Nations to declare April 2nd to be "World Autism Awareness Day". Let's take a moment to realize that all the brave children shown in documentaries and on television will someday be adults with the same challenges and the same need for understanding.
Monday, March 31, 2008
The Face of Autism
Our Gavin at his 16th birthday party. He is delighted with the gifts from his Aunt Paula. Gavin has boundless energy, a big heart and a dual diagnosis of Autism/Developmental Delay. Gavin's life is full of challenges. We are fortunate to have loving and supportive family and friends on a difficult journey. Through the years we have met incredible professionals in education and the social services who have come to love our boy. Neighbours greet him and treat him with respect. Clerks and shop owners smile and ask after "the big kid".
However, the world is not always kind to Gavin and others like him. He has odd behaviors such as singing, reciting movie lines, writing furiously in the air or laughing uproariously at...well, at something he finds funny. People stare as if they have laid down their buck at a sideshow. Teenagers laugh and toss around the word "retard". Some pointedly remark that kids like that should be locked up or taken away from obviously bad parents. There seems to be an idea that people with intellectual disabilities have no comprehension or feelings and cannot be hurt by such rude, thoughtless behavior.