For the past couple of decades, Autism awareness has been a huge goal. It’s been successful in getting the message out there that Autism exists, and that it’s something that we do need help with. We need donations, foundations and medical research. With one in 50 young men, and one in 90 children being diagnosed with Autism in the youngest generation, it’s a problem that’s far bigger than we expected it to be.
You have adults now who are on the spectrum, who are trying to hold down jobs and trying to live their lives, and have spouses and children. You have people of all ages, 10s, 100s and 1,000s of them, who are or could be diagnosed with Autism. We’re at a point now where it can’t just be a question of therapy and processes to help. It has to be a question of how do we help those with Autism and those without Autism interact with each other.
We have to address the question of not just awareness of Autism, but understanding Autism. What does Autism mean? What does it mean for a person to have Autism? How will they see the world differently? How might they react differently? How can a person with Autism and neuro-typical people have constructive and positive interactions?
What I want to do, and what I am going to be doing for as long as I can, is helping to help everyone understand Autism.
Right now I’m just a person with a message, but the important thing isn’t me, it’s the concept that there is a diverse range of ways people can experience and interpret the world. I want to use my personal experiences with Autism to start a conversation in which people are actively understanding Autism. I want people in schools to be exposed to people who have Autism, who have different ways of experiencing the world. At some point, I won’t need to be spreading the message, because there won’t be a message to spread anymore, it will just be a part of our culture.
One day, I’d love to be on a show like Jon Stewart’s, because one of the biggest things about spreading something like this, any issue about trying to address understanding and acceptance, is that you have to step away from being the “other” and start being one of us normal.
Autism obviously isn’t normal in many ways, but people who are autistic are still people. We all still have stresses. We all still have goals, wants and desires in our lives. You even have a few people out there who had Autism, or have Autism rather, who talked about it after the fact.
Dan Aykroyd is one famous person who has recently said he has Autism. Part of it is getting those of us who have Autism to come out in front of normal people and be normal in front of normal people, and to talk with them. One of my big, long-term goals, is to sit across from Jon Stewart and talk to him about what it means to have Autism. I want to show his audience of so many thousands of viewers, that someone with Autism can be there and be a part of everyday life.