The State of Qatar sponsored the event and Riz Khan, a radio host from Al Jazeera, moderated, making this a true world event. Paul Shattock, of the World Autism Organization in England, spoke about the stigma of autism in different countries. He remarked
"In England, we have always had a secret admiration for the quirky, the different, the maverick, the person who behaves in a cool way" and contrasted that to America where people shout in the supermarket 'why don't you look after him' and 'why don't you control him.'But, he said it was getting better in the US in fact he heard a joke on a commercial: a 12 year old autistic boy spoke for the first time and said "THIS DINNER IS TERRIBLE." And his mother said "You spoke. You have never spoken before." And the autistic boy said "Well, everything has been okay until now."
I thought Paul's comment was particularly good for my blog, which is all about nutrition and the power of food to heal...even in the form of a terrible dinner.
Some good news: The American Academy of Pediatrics has announced it will be partnering with Defeat Autism Now in order to diagnose and treat patients more effectively. I heard about this at the UN today. This is truly a groundbreaking step by the AAP who has previously regarded DAN and the biomedical treatment it offers as a fringe movement but offered no alternative. This dialogue is a move which could possibly turn the tide on this growing epidemic, as my new favorite blog, Journey to Crunchville, noted. I don't know how it happened, but miracles do happen...just when you least expect them.
WHAT TO DO: If you or someone you know has been affected by autism go to Autism Speaks to get info and the IAN Project to accelerate the pace of autism research. EVERYONE should try to appreciate the "quirky, the different, the maverick" in ourselves and our children.