Living With and Understanding Autism In today;s Society


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Am I Not Human?

Walking down the street when I was about eight years old, I saw a man who looked and acted differently. This man was in a wheelchair and did not talk; he only rocked back and forth. I was afraid, of what, I don’t know. As I walked by I ignored his existence. Only after working with autistic individuals, did I realize that the man I had seen so many years ago in the wheelchair was autistic. I discovered what I was afraid of. I was terrified there was nothing I could do to help him, and feared the differences which he displayed. Ignorance of the causes of autism also contribute to the fear of autistic individuals. There are many levels of autism. There are also different ways to help an autistic lead a normal life. There are also different severity’s of blindness, and different ways for blind individuals to adapt to their environments.

Autism is a syndrome that inhibits a person’s ability to socialize and communicate. The cause is unknown and there is no cure, but it can be overcome through social adjustments and speech developments. There is great deal of variety among autistic people. Some autistic people may never learn to talk and may not be able to work or live independently. Others may do well in special supportive environments, working in sheltered settings. Still others are totally independent and function fairly well. The last, or “high-functioning,” group is often not recognized; however, they do exist, and people need to recognize and understand the difficulties they face: their unique ways of thinking, doing things, and experiencing theworld. These levels of intensity in relation to the disability are not only found in autism. In her essay Georgina Kleege talks about the varying degrees of blindness, and how people assume that there is only one type of blindness, total darkness.

Their is no cure to autism but it can be managed through many different techniques. The same applies for blind people, there are many different types of treatments. Through Braille publications, glasses, and different types of adaptations made to public environments blindness becomes more manageable. To effectively treat autism, any approach should be flexible in nature, rely on positive reinforcement, be re-evaluated on a regular basis and provide a smooth transition from home to school to community environments. A good program will also incorporate training and support systems for parents and caregivers, with generalization of skills to all settings. Rarely can a family, classroom teacher or other caregiver provide effective habilitation for a person with autism unless offered consultation or in-service training by an experienced specialist who is knowledgeable about the disability.

A generation ago, the vast majority of the people with autism were eventually placed in institutions. Professionals were much less educated about autism than they are today; autism specific supports and services were largely non-existent. Today the picture is brighter. With appropriate services, training, and information, most families are able to support their son or daughter at home. Group homes, assisted apartment living arrangements, or residential facilities offer more options for out of home support. Autism-specific programs and services provide the opportunity for individuals to be taught skills which allow them to reach their fulles potential.

People fear differences in people. In Georgina Kleege’s essay she stated “The fear of blindness leads naturally to the fear of the blind” (400). The same applies for autistic people. Many people fear that they will somehow catch it or that it will ruin them in some way. People do not realize that autism only has to do with communication and social skills. The repeated rocking and hand flapping and other body movementsare due to their lack of skill in not only verbal, but also non-verbal communication. It is a way for them to display their distress and frustration. The ignorance of the truthabout subjects is what leads to this fear of difference. If everyone knew the facts and reasons of autism there would be no fear.

Through out Kleege’s essay she describes the mistreatment of disabled individuals. Society has been ignorant of the causes and reasons for these differences. This has lead to a fear toward anyone or thing who is different. There will always be people who are uneducated and unwilling to learn, which causes fear, and fear is a result of ignorance and an unwillingness to understand the situations of others. Kleege’s essay on disabilities allows the public a glimpse into the life of a disabled person. This allows people to better understand these differences, which helps eliminate fear.

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