Designing a world for autism..."calming rooms"
Take a quick look at Google News stories on "autism" during the last 24 hours, and you'll find ones like this:
New York Times: An Autistic-Friendly Version of 'The Curious Incident'
My Fox Salt Lake City: U of U recognized for efforts to help kids with autism
WSHM Springfield, MA: Children with Autism meet Santa in sensory-friendly event
MyCentralJersey.com: Toys needed for Autism Think Tank party in Warren
These stories certainly make the public AWARE that autism is out there. There's nothing alarming going on--certainly no reason to believe autism is anything to worry about.
Of course there were a couple concerning reports, like the one from the UK, Adults with learning disabilities at risk of abuse, say charities.
One from Texas reported on school staff members who broke the leg and toe of a 15 year old with autism.
In Pennsylvania, the news was about the stunning increase in the number of ASD kids in trouble with the law.
No matter, most of the coverage was very positive.
I'm always amazed at stories like this one about a mom in Minnesota.
Interior designer and mother of two, A.J. Paron-Wildes, has developed design ideas for schools and centers that serve people with autism. She was inspired to research this subject because of her 19-year-old son on the spectrum Devin.
Devin was diagnosed with autism sixteen years ago when Paron-Wildes was a fresh interior design graduate from the University of Minnesota. Devin was barely speaking then, usually communicating with tantrums and meltdowns. she told Winona Daily News,
"He'd drop to the floor and start screaming. We'd have to drop everything and leave."
She added that taking Devin on errands became too troublesome for her and her husband and he was often left at home. It was then Paron-Wildes decided to put her degree to good use and started researching studies about spaces for children on the spectrum. To her shock, there were none. All the research she did find were from the 1970's when children on the spectrum were often institutionalized. Wanting to keep her son at home and calm, Paron-Wildes made it her mission to find out what worked well for her son by learning everything she could about the learning difference and it's affect on the brain.
We are somehow adjusting to a world where a significant part of the young population suffers from varying degrees of neurological damage--aka, autism.
Having hundreds of thousands of children and young adults who can't function like the rest of society is something that can't be ignored, so we're making accommodations. These are individuals who often can't speak, behave, or learn things like the rest of us. They have meltdowns, wander away and have seizures. Instead of asking what's happening to our children, we're trying to live with it as if it's normal and acceptable to have people like this around.
Read the news stories: "Sensitive Santas," autism friendly story times at the library, Broadway plays, airlines, movie theaters, restaurants, churches, police, EMTs, fire fighters--all coming up with ways to provide for/deal with people with autism. Our schools especially have had to figure how to handle ASD, and there have been enormous problems like abuse, deaths, wandering, students left on buses, and more. There has been a huge effort to train teachers and aides.
This must make the folks who say all this autism is just "better diagnosing" of a condition that's always been around (and not connected to the dramatic increase in the vaccine schedule) very happy.
They want us to do this. We congratulate ourselves for providing for these disabled individuals--a population that supposedly has been totally neglected in the past.
We're doing all these things for young people with autism, yet no one is concerned about helping out middle aged and elderly adults on the spectrum. What about THEIR NEEDS? Why isn't anyone ever talking about THEM?
There are so many questions that are never asked:
Why is the rate always based on studies of eight year olds?
Why has there been this worldwide recognition of a serious and easily recognized neurological disorder only in the last 20 years? Have we internationally been guilty of marginalizing the disabled?
Why do we celebrate autism every April when there is officially no known cause or cure for a disorder whose rate continues to explode?
Why is no one in government worried about where all these children will end up someday as adults?
Why is regressive autism--a sudden and dramatic loss of skills, including speech--merely dismissed as just part of the mystery of autism?
In the next decades, as more and more young adults age out of school, the pretense will be over. The burden of caring and paying for the autism generation will fall on the taxpayers. Autism will no longer be a health care topic--it'll be a financial burden the states simply won't be able to bear. I can't imagine what society is going to do. There is no precedent that I can think of in past history. Polio is always talked about--where the rate was one in 3,000 Americans, but victims of polio mostly recovered and went on to lead productive lives. This country wasn't left to provide for hundreds of thousands of people helplessly lying in iron lungs for the rest of their lives. History is full of stories of disease outbreaks and even plagues that decimated countries, but the victims either died or recovered. They didn't live long, dependent lives. I think about this a lot because more and more news reports cite teenagers with autism. And where will these people be in 10 and 20 years? Right now, no one can show us. That ought to scare everyone.
The Dachel Media Update is sponsored by Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy and their OurKidsASD brand. Lee Silsby Compounding Pharmacy is one of the largest and most respected compounding pharmacies in the country. They use only the finest quality chemicals and equipment to prepare our patients’ compounded medications and nutritional supplements. Customizing medication and nutritional supplements for our customers allows them to achieve their unique health goals.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism and author of The Big Autism Cover-Up: How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public, which is on sale now from Skyhorse Publishing.