Carelessly Linking Autism to Violent Crime

linking autism to violent crime

We’ve all heard it. The media has been (intentionally or not) linking autism to violent crime over the past few years in the United States. A few years ago it was Sandy Hook. More recently it has been the Umpqua Community College Shooting. Mentioning that a shooter is on the spectrum along with a description of the violent crimes he has committed inaccurately inflates the significance of autism in these situations. People without intimate knowledge of autism hear this reporting and continue developing misconceptions and stereotypes about autistic people. The autistic community has spoken out on numerous occasions requesting that the media avoid making unwarranted connections because of the inaccuracies they imply and the damage the link does to people living on the spectrum.

How Not to React When Hearing About Someone’s Autism Diagnosis

hearing about someone's autism diagnosis

How many parents have heard: “He’s autistic? But he acts so normal!” Many respond this way to hearing a parent reveal a diagnosis because they think it would be considered a compliment. This statement emphasizes how someone looks a certain way and doesn’t address or acknowledge the state or experience of being autistic.

As psychologists learn more about the symptoms of autism and how they manifest themselves, the public, in turn has better recognized those affected, and more people are talking about it. Despite this increased “awareness” of what autism looks like, many people still fail to understand how the full range of symptoms affects how autistic people experience the world.

A lack of understanding can lead to unintentional offensive responses when first hearing about someone’s autism diagnosis. Much has been written by parents of autistic children trying to raise awareness of what these inappropriate responses are and how they make the parents feel. I’d like to approach this topic from a slightly different angle and explore how these inappropriate responses make the autistic child or adult feel and how we can best discuss autism with and among autistics.

A Case Against Retesting for Autism

retesting for autism

Are you wondering if you should get your child retested by a psychologist? You are not alone. Many parents of autistic children and autistic individuals themselves consider taking a second test to see if their symptoms still fall under the diagnostic criteria for autism. If an individual feels that he or she has been misdiagnosed, a reassessment may be a proper tool for identifying the accuracy of a diagnosis or determining a more appropriate diagnosis. However, I would caution parents against seeking out reassessments for their children in an effort to get rid of a diagnosis or a stigma attached to it.

Passing for Neurotypical

passing for neurotypical, stress, hiding

When I first heard someone on the spectrum talk about “passing,” I didn’t realize how this prevalent and conscious this effort was on the account of many autistics. The person I was speaking to was referring to “passing for neurotypical,” in other words, acting neurotypical enough that someone else wouldn’t recognize they were autistic. Outsiders often dismiss the severity of any disabling conditions when they see autistics who act non-autistic. However, many can pass for neurotypical only with great effort and feel pressured to act this way, living in constant stress over every small behavior and decision they make and never feeling accepted for who they are. To deepen understanding of the autistic pressure to pass for neurotypical, it’s important to read what other autistics are saying about passing and examine situations in our lives where we create this pressure for our children or for others.

Teaching Siblings of Children with Autism to be Disability Advocates

girls-946288_1280Parents want their children to grow into confident, caring, and capable adults who respect everyone, including those with disabilities. In families with a disabled sibling, parents often additionally encourage acceptance of differences in a more personal and immersive way than those without one. The challenges of devoting individual time to each child’s personal development is coupled with extraordinary opportunities to teach disability acceptance and advocacy. This article discusses the unique power siblings have as disability advocates and outlines 6 tips for helping your other children learn to advocate for their siblings and others on the spectrum.

Inject Autism Acceptance Into Your Awareness Campaign

autism_acceptance_plus_sign-694842

Add Acceptance

 An Important Addition

“Awareness” is a vague, hackneyed noun that every supporter of any cause in the world touts as their primary advocacy goal.

But what does it mean to be more aware of autism? Or breast cancer, or childhood leukemia, or poverty, or heart disease? Knowing that someone suffers doesn’t mean that much unless people are compelled to act. There must be a secondary agenda beyond awareness.…