Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Disorder Out of Chaos in the NYT: Autism is Becoming Less of a Stigma
There is an interesting and ground breaking op-ed piece in today's New York Times about Autism Spectrum Disorders called Disorder Out of Chaos. I am happy for the young woman , Isabel, who can embrace the many strengths that autism has given her. Still, many children with autism are profoundly sick and never speak or function independently. While making autism less of a stigma is great, I fear that many parents will not get the medical care and therapy their kids need to be successful and healthy if every image of a person with autism is a high functioning Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin is an amazing person who has a unique view of the world. Still, she only eats pudding, jello and yogurt and has colitis and her Harvard educated, determined, mother who had enormous resources also worked extremely hard to make her the success she is today. The root of autism is "auto" referring to self. Individuals with autism are often locked with in themselves. The uniqueness of their brains can allow these individuals to focus on things intensely and create amazing works-- such as the art depicted in the Beautiful Minds: A Voyage into the Brain. It can be a strength, as recognized by the young woman Isabel, described in the NYT op-ed piece on autism. It is comforting and hopeful to think of autism in this light. But, unfortunately, autism is a spectrum and I fear that the children who are trapped completely within themselves and sick everyday are being left behind by the media.