Thursday, September 28, 2006

It really is Real

When People think of Autism, they thing of kids staring off into space, maybe with a football helmet on to protect them as they spin around on the floor or bang their heads on the wall. Or they thing of “Rainman”, a movie with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Raymond (Rainman) was the older brother who was sent to an institution when it was feared he might hurt his baby brother. Raymond was exceptionally good at math, but had poor social skills, had rigid routines, swayed back and forth and had a flat tone of voice. Raymond was somewhere along the Autism spectrum which ranges from severely affected, to very high functioning. A high functioning autistic who might have Aspergers, may look just like anyone else, or might have a peculiar gate, but even though his disability isn’t as visible, trust me it is just as challenging and oh so evident in the lives of many of us, just as diabetes or asthma is to others.

I was once told, that autistics live in their own world but those with Aspergers live in the world, just in our own way.

I was also told once by a social worker at my kids’ last school, that Aspergers was rare. There was no arguing with this person, who reminded me every other sentence that she was the mental health professional. (My doctor thought this was extremely funny). This “mental health professional” needs to go back to school. One in every 166 kids is autistic. There are 4 in my family. That doesn’t sound very rare to me.

There have been many theories about the cause of Autism and Aspergers and suggested reasons for the rapid increase that we are seeing now. NBC even did a story about the Autism epidemic, which I tried to tell the “mental health professional” but she wasn’t listening. Some have blamed the preservative in childhood vaccinations. Some say it is genetic. Others say that, since the increase in technology jobs, people who are not good with dealing with other people socially can thrive at a job on a computer. Also it is now very possible that an Aspergers male may meet a like minded Aspergers girl in the next cubical, marry and have more possible Aspergers kids.

So is the world now doomed to having a bunch of us Aspies running around? It could be worse. The people that are diagnosed by the public as having an awful lot of Aspergers like traits would amaze you. The one I always like to mention is Bill Gates. Now while I like to Hate Billy boy, especially when my computer is acting up, think of where we would be if he didn’t think out of the box the way he did. Watch the pirates of Silicon Valley sometime. You might hate him more but you will come to see the method behind the guy.

My biggest problem with Aspergers isn’t the condition itself but getting the world to realize that it exists and that it is real. I was once accused by that same “mental health professional” of making up the kids’ diagnosis. Her words were .”Do they have a formal diagnosis?” Emphasis on the word formal. This was in response to some special things I had asked for to help them adjust to a new environment. I so badly wanted to say. No lady, I just read Readers Digest and this is the disease of the month. Geez.

Personally, I wouldn’t want my kids any other way. They are cute and adorable and really hate it when they do something wrong. If I can get the rest of the world to just lighten up and just listen to them, they would enjoy them as much as I do

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