Home » Temple Grandin, Autism Awareness, and the Downside of Autism Awareness
One of the biggest reasons I wanted to put together the Autism Awareness in Action campaign was because so many folks out there are focusing on Awareness campaigns.
But there is a danger of what I like to call the social high of becoming involved with them. Yes they are sharing a picture or post that moved them, but they are forgetting the key aspect of any true success in raising awareness.
There must be come change, some result, something measurable that makes it possible to say that people weren’t sharing everything to do with the campaign just because of that social high. With that goal in mind, when I read the latest interview with Temple Grandin I was nodding my head.
Beyond the awareness campaigns, there is a responsibility that we as parents of these amazing kids have – we have to help them reach their full potential. Whether that is in their social interactions or academics, these kids being diagnosed with autism today have a healthy dose of awareness that goes into their every day.
Temple Grandin is arguably one of the most famous faces of autism. Nonetheless, the self-advocate says there are drawbacks to all of the awareness surrounding the disorder.
Grandin says she’s worried that focusing on labels means that today’s youngsters with autism won’t meet their full potential.
“To a certain extent it’s a good thing,” Grandin said of increased autism awareness in an interview with Salon.
“On the other hand… I visit people in (autism) meetings, and a 9-year-old will come up and want to talk about his autism. I’d rather talk about his science project. You get fixated on your favorite thing as a kid, and now kids are getting fixated on autism instead of dogs or medieval knights. I’d rather get them to fixate on that something that could give them a career,” Grandin said.
If your efforts are focused on, say, finding a cure for autism, what are you doing to portray that to your child? Do all they ever hear about is how horrible autism is? How hard it is to deal with? How much stress it is placing on the family? Are your awareness efforts transferring to your kids, and rather than empowering them, are they helping them fixate on this fascinating thing that is autism?
I brought the above up as an example … we don’t actually focus on cures here in the Moody house, but on therapies, on goals, and on action that we can take, including the kids, to help them meet their full potential. It’s just a different way of looking at things, but what I want you to consider is how you are addressing your child’s autism with them.
Whatever your thoughts are about autism (depending on the day those thoughts could be R-rated or full of hope and inspiration) are you helping your child reach their full potential if they are now focused on that diagnosis as well?
It’s a hard balance – we want our kids to be comfortable enough with their autism, their epilepsy, any of their special needs, that they don’t feel like these labels define them, but strong enough to stand up for themselves and achieve success despite those diagnoses.
Kids have a hard time figuring out who they are in this big world, and autism makes the world, and themselves by default, that much more difficult to understand.
So, my plug for the Autism Awareness in Action Campaign here is with a warning as well – be involved because you want the “ACTION” part of that equation. And be involved because helping your kids reach their potential (or your friend’s kids, etc) is going to take a different kind of awareness to help a community view the child with autism as an amazing CHILD, first.
Are you a part of the Autism Awareness in Action Campaign? Do you have a child with autism? What do you think of Temple’s concerns about ‘awareness’ and how do you address this in your own home and community?