It is my opinion, that the medical field has done us a great disservice. Autism has been labeled as the “Autism-Spectrum Disorder” due to the fact that it includes a wide range of symptoms from mild social inability to total inability to communicate.
It brings back memories of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), another catch-all disorder in which a myriad of unknown disorder related deaths are lumped into a singular category. Basically stating…we don’t know what caused your baby’s sudden death so instead of looking inept, we will call it SIDS. That opinion seems rather biting, but all we want to know is the truth. Somehow people think that in these times we need something to blame these terrible events on. So, instead of saying that your son or daughter died of an unknown illness, we will give it a name for you to be able to assign blame.
It also brings up concerns over the whole fervor over ADD and ADHD. Another “disorder” that falls into the “catch-all” disorder category. Perhaps, this particular subject should be another discussion all together….(note to self).
Let me just say that I have a problem with anyone calling Autism a disorder in the first place. Disorder? No…how about a different reality? Really now, are we to assume that every person that behaves in a totally different social manner, that does not communicate at all, that does not act emotionally like the main majority of people in this world has a disorder? Most of us live in the main majority where people are expected to live and communicate in a certain acceptable way. Those with Autism do not live in that reality. They live in a different reality.
Medical professionals have crossed many lines with parents by saying that their children affected by Autism, Aspergers, or related “syndrome” cannot relate to them in a feeling, social manner. They can relate. So where does the problem lie? Does it lie with the “patient”? Does it lie with the rest of us?
This may be a hard pill to swallow for some, but do we not have the obligation as humans to understand their reality, not to just label them as a “disorder”, over-medicate and isolate them?
What this means, is that we should strive to understand the basis of the reality they live within in order to communicate with them. It is our responsibility to make their lives as enjoyable and full of potential as ours are even if they live within a different reality understanding then we do. It is our responsibility to learn what their reality is all about. I know this is not an easy goal to accomplish, but think of what would come out of some kind of mutual understanding.
This all brings back memories of college for me. I was friends with a young man who, as I look back, would certainly be labeled with Autism. He had severe difficulty relating socially and had problems with speech. Of course, he had to deal with ridicule from other students. I remember many days of my friends and I “dealing” with those other students. There he was, enrolled in a full schedule of classes, in his own reality…making things work. He was an amazing individual and I don’t say that because he made my knowledge of math look like I was using an abacus. I say that because he was there in his own reality trying to relate to ours. To say that there were not many tough times would be a lie, but he did it. He succeeded and eventually graduated.
So, what the medical community often says is that any mental issue that removes someone from the “norm” of today’s society is a “disorder” (but at least we are not subjecting people to lobotomy’s any longer…right?). In other words, if you cannot conform to what this society expects as the normal mental behavior, then you have a limiting, debilitating illness. It is a rather one-sided debate in that there is no effort in trying to understand their view of the world whereas they are expected, through treatment, to conform to our understanding of reality.
I do not have to stand within the reality of another nor pull them into mine to understand and appreciate them for who they are.
—– Erik Sudberg