Monday, November 18, 2013

hey Suzanne Wright, this is autism.

 Autism awareness has come quite a long way since the mid 90's. When i was diagnosed autistic as a toddler, medical professionals recommended that I be put in an institution, or be medicated for the rest of my life. My elementary school had special protocol in place just for me in meltdown situations; they would gather multiple faculty members, storm into the room, restrain me, lift me up, and carry me to the office where they would lock me in an empty room and not acknowledge me whatsoever until they deemed I had calmed enough to function. In which case I was given a note and sent back to class. Growing up autistic was a struggle. But I was never a burden. I was the first kindergartener in the school's history to test into the fifth grade reading level language arts class, the highest level class offered. And when I wasn't in a meltdown the staff at the school treated me very much like an adult. There were days when life at home got unbearable for everyone as a result of something I was doing, but there were also days when the opposite was true. Life was hard, but we got through it.
A lot of time has passed since then. I don't have meltdowns nearly as often as I used to, and they are never as severe. I have learned how to better control my environment through routine, and my years of carefully watching other people communicating have helped me to be able to communicate on my own. Sure, those coping mechanisms and personal growth that help me to function in society didn't come easy, but myself and my loved ones worked hard, and they came in time. There was suffering, but it was temporary and minor in the grand scheme of my life.
Last week, Suzanne Wright, co founder of autism speaks, took some words from her mind and put them on the internet. Words like burden, lost, epidemic, gravely ill, and unable. She used phrases such as “these families are not living”, “their lives are lived in constant fear and despair”, she said many parents are too “emotionally depleted” and that families with an autistic child will break apart and fail.
I know autism. I've lived through the hardest of hard times because I'm autistic. I was in a psychiatric ward on 24 hour suicide watch in the fourth grade because that's when I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I would never be able to stop being autistic. I knew in my heart that no cure was ever going to come. So I did the only logical thing, I embraced it. I worked with my autism instead of against it, and the wheels started turning. My behavior started improving. I needed less and less medication. I started to function. Autism did that. The process was in no way easy, but the end result was worth twice the pain and suffering I endured. And I did it on my own, not some scientist doing genetic tests, not some people walking 5k and donating money, not even my parents. It was me.
I know autism. Suzanne Wright claims to know autism. She is mistaken. She definitely knows and feels passionate about something, and that something sure does sound bad, but that something isn't autism. She should take her organization, her money, and her time, and dedicate it to fighting that something. Because whatever it is, it sounds bad. Who knows? Maybe her fight against this something will make the world a better place.      

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharign this. I too can relate to your experience of autism, and that it's not Always good - in fact, life as an autistic can suck. But it's working with instead of against your autism that makes it easier. It has made life easier for me when I was diagnosed at age 20, and it's people sitll working against that part of me that is autism that makes it harder.