So today was the second ever World Autism Awareness Day. And I expected it to be one of those days that was frustrating but that I just had to bear, with all sorts of media coverage of the plight of parents of autistic kids and all sorts of distortions and incomplete truths about what autism actually entails.
And y’know what? It wasn’t too bad this year.
To be fair, I wasn’t at a TV for most of the day, but even when I was sitting in front of one, most of the news coverage wasn’t about autism— it was about other things, such as President Obama’s appearance at the G20 summit. Perhaps not so good for autism awareness, to be sure, but it was good for my own sanity, anyway. 🙂
Yet even the autism-related coverage that was there was… surprisingly decent. Yes, there was the occasional bit of “war against autism” rhetoric (grr), but in general, the coverage of autism seemed a lot more hopeful this year. CNN, for instance, had a fairly decent article that wasn’t all about doom and gloom, but more about understanding— about how people should recognize that autistic meltdowns aren’t intentional misbehavior, but just a reaction to the environment. If there’s one thing I would’ve added to it, it’s that yes, adult autistics exist and that our meltdowns need to be recognized for what they are as well— but even still, it’s a far cry from the doom-and-gloom articles I’ve seen in previous years. There was another rather interesting article about a Japanese vineyard that employed autistics to do the repetitive tasks involved in wine-making— busting the oft-repeated myth that autistics, even on the ‘lower-functioning’ end of the spectrum, can never become gainfully employed.
There was also a great public service announcement (captioned version here) put out by the Dan Marino Foundation and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, with an entirely autistic cast urging viewers to put an end to the old stereotypes and myths about autism. ::claps, handflaps::
And finally, there was an absolutely wonderful statement made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, “calling for action to enable children and persons with autism to lead full and meaningful lives.” Yes, children and persons— finally, for once, I’m made to feel as if I actually exist! (Hat tip to ABFH for that one.)
Now, of course, the real fun starts: figuring out how not to scream at my TV set during tomorrow’s Larry King Live, when the guests will be Jenny “Not A Doctor, But I Play One On Teh Googles” McCarthy and Jim Carrey discussing autism treatment. Oh, wait, never mind, actually the solution’s easy: just tune to something else…