Autism. A simple word but describing such a wide spectrum. Autism is a disorder related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. When we see an autistic individual, we may think of them as dull-witted and moronic, but the truth is, they are just as oblivious to their actions as we are to their motives.
The autism spectrum is broad, ranging from severe to decently manageable. Some autistic kids are well aware of their surroundings and can maintain a life of their own. Some, however, are incapable of perceiving the world in a reasonable way and may be unable to properly function. This inability to function includes traits such as an inability to speak and respond to speech, an inability to use the restroom, and in general, an inability to do things that we unthinkingly do on a daily basis. Parents with severely autistic children must do mostly everything for them, exacerbating the challenges that parents already face with simply raising a child in general. Occasionally, kids with autism may even throw tantrums, which occur when children or adults with autism get overly emotional and are unaware of how to release their inner tension.
Unfortunately, many adolescents or high schoolers use the word “autistic” as an insult and a way of implying that the recipient is mentally challenged or stupid. Autism is a serious mental disorder that many parents have to experience every day, and it is a word that should not be taken so lightly. Millions and millions of parents experience hardships, and it is not right for us, as healthy individuals, to poke fun at something that causes so much distress to people.
Instead, we should support and embrace people with autism to the fullest possible extent. This can come in the form of donating, volunteering, and much more. A great organization for supporting these autistic kids is “Milal”, through which young volunteers help an autistic buddy out by both helping them participate in many activities and engaging with their partner and learning their behavior.
Although it may be quite challenging, volunteers do contribute to a great cause and really gain the knowledge on the autism spectrum. Instead of contributing to the stigma of autism, the community should support the removal of that stigma. Individuals with autism are not at fault. They have done nothing wrong. Instead, it is our fault for making a joke out of such a serious issue. So, volunteer at an organization today and help reduce the stigma of autism.
Timothy Lee, Grade 11
Larchmont Charter High School