The main reason I’m writing this article is because I want to increase the awareness of autism in our current society. People often have stereotypical ideas about autism and do not know the realities of the condition. To start with, people often believe that autism is a disease. To take it to an extreme, people with autism are often treated like they have an incurable disease. Autism is a neurological disorder where an abnormality of chromosome 15 influences the overall brain structure and brain development. Autism has been researched for decades, but a perfect cure for this disorder has yet come into our reach. However, there has been progress in ameliorating the conditions of autism. The core of this article is to provide and fix society’s overall impression of autism and further increase autism awareness.
As a volunteer at AMASE (Academy of Music and Art for Special Education), I teach children with autism how to play music and how to draw. Although I’m only with these children for two hours per week, the lessons I learn from them stay in my heart all the time.
First of all, children with autism are still regarded as “mentally retarded” or “mentally challenged.” This might make you cringe, but this is the truth. Every time I hear someone say the word “retard” to children with autism, I want to let them know how degrading that term is to these children. One of the things I’ve learned through teaching these children is that they can think and feel the same way we do. There is no difference that divides us except the way they express themselves. Think of it this way: people express their internal emotions differently in their daily lives. Some people use musical instruments to express their feelings; some people draw or paint on canvas to express themselves. Just like “normal” people express themselves differently, children with autism have their own way of expressing themselves. Excluding these children and viewing them in a negative light seems arbitrary. Instead, we need to change our mindset and try to include these children in our community and help them out.
Secondly, simple changes in the usage of negative and positive word scan effectively impact our community. Some people label children with autism as children with “problems.” But they are not children with problems. Rather, it is better to say that they are “children who need support.” These simple differences that you start making in the vocabulary about autism can eventually change society’s view.