Saturday, August 2, 2008

Response to a Disappointing Series

Redbook magazine recently printed a three-part series on autism describing the experiences of a mother, Nicole, who discovers that her young son is autistic. A member of ASAN Southwest Ohio wrote a letter to the editor expressing her concern about misleading statements and damaging assumptions in the articles:

Redbook Magazine
Editorial Offices
300 West 57th St.
22nd Fl.
New York, NY 10019

Dear Editor:

I am a 25-year-old autistic woman. I have closely followed your series on autism; and, to be honest, I was disappointed.

People are afraid of what they do not understand, and the way autism is portrayed worsens the panic. The isolation Nicole felt was a product of this fear, of the idea that autism is something foreign and mysterious and horrifying. Autistic people and their families are isolated much more by fear than we ever were by autism.

The article seems to say that autism has only two possible outcomes: A cure, or a tragedy. This is not true. I am autistic, and I am happy. I contribute to society. I have always loved my family, even when I wasn't good at saying it. Autism is a part of my personality; without it, I would not be myself.

We do not need to be "saved from autism"; we need what every other person needs--a chance to learn. Teach us to communicate; teach us to interact; but above all, accept us and our differences.

Yes, we think differently; we act differently; but they are differences that anyone can understand if they just take the time to listen to us. Fundamentally, we are simply human, like anyone else.


Niksmom said...

I've not seen the Redbook series but will look for it now so I can read it and write my own letter. The writer of this letter said it so eloquently. It disgusts me that the media paints ONLY the black OR the shades of gray. ANd there is so much depth and beauty to be found in those shades...

auntiesusan said...

Dear "asansouthwestohio". I was just watching Temple Grandin's youtube video last night, and I think to clarify what you mean is that many of us have autism to some degree - some way more than others. And that it's important to get early intervention especially for those who don't learn the social graces enough to be productive in society. I don't mean to be a social butterfly - but for some, it's as simple as teaching a child when it's not a good idea to take off their clothes in public etc - or that it's not a good idea to jump onto the chandelier at the hotel and swing on it. I think knowing when to recognize the degree is important in order to know when and if intervention is necessary. If you are interested, there is going to be a conference with over 40 well-known speakers in Cleveland - Autism Summit 2008. I teach as a substitute, and I never what kids I'm going to get, so I think the learning experience will be a real plus for me!!

Yours truly - auntiesusan

Andrew said...


I do not agree with your interpretation at all. The author of the OP makes no mention of early intervention, so there is no way of knowing if she received it or not. Her point isn't that early intervention saved her, or that she didn't need early intervention. It is that autism isn't as tragic as the Redbook series makes it out to be. Treatment isn't mentioned here, nor should it be.