I changed it today, minutes ago, actually. A commitment to solidarity and the greater good won out against my cynical apathy.
I know you can’t be cynical and apathetic at the same time. Yet somehow that’s the most accurate descriptor I have.
“Happy Autism Awareness Day”, I read. ” That’s kind of ironic, isn’t it?”, I think. One friend pointed out that phrase was reminiscent of the “Happy Hunger Games” cries of those in the Capitol. I imagined me as the catatonic Katniss, staring with awe and horror at the blue tinged masses.
See, I’m happy for awareness. I don’t think we’re done with that fight either. I think that just because people know about Autism, doesn’t mean they understand it, that they accept the amazing uniquities of those with Autism, or that they make the efforts to include them.
But it’s a great start. People are so much more aware now than they were 5, 10, 20 years ago.
And while we can definitely thank Autism Speaks and the UN for promoting awareness. This kind of awareness is driven by something much more sinister.
Quite simply, more people are aware because more people are being personally touched by Autism.
The CDC released updated statistics on prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in America last week. It is now estimated that 1 in 88 US children will have some form of Autism. That’s more than 1 percent of the population. What’s more? The statistics quoted in this report are based on children who were eight years old (12 now) in 2008. School rosters and early intervention programs are seeing many more children with Autism in their offices now than ever before and this data doesn’t even capture Everybody’s Boy and his peers, he wasn’t diagnosed until 2008 (days before his second birthday).
So this awareness, it must’ve played into the increase in diagnosis, right? More people are aware of the symptoms of Autism and they are getting their children services. That’s what this is about.
I don’t think so. Not for a minute.
I think that there is more awareness amongst the general public, and physicians that lead to more accurate and earlier diagnosis. I am certain of that.
But I cannot in good conscience say that is the entire story.
I am not one to jump on conspiracy theories and I’m not going to do that now. I have many times stated my “we have no idea what this is all about” stand on this very blog.
Just because I don’t know what it’s all about, however, doesn’t mean that there’s not something seriously wrong.
We need to find out why this is happening to our children. 1 in 88 children. 1 in 70 in my state of North Carolina. 1 in 54 boys.
Two percent of the little boys in the USA have Autism.
Everybody’s Boy was never meant to be that kind of euphemism.
Our kids need more than awareness.
They need action.
So I put out my blue light. I put it out in solidarity as a cry for action, from our researchers, our government, and our community.
I ask you to stand with us. Don’t just be aware. Don’t just be accepting.