Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Celebration of Neuro-Diversity

June 18 is Autistic Pride Day and it is celebrated by people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome world wide. It is a day for them to celebrate their ‘neurodiversity’ and for the others to learn about Autism and develop our understanding towards them.

“Autistic pride is pride in autism, about shifting views of autism from "disease" to "difference". Autistic pride emphasizes the innate potential in all human phenotypic expressions and celebrates the diversity various neurological types express.” Wikipedia

Our lives revolve around our senses and the responses they give to the stimuli in the environment. We hear people saying “I need my tea to be cold”, “The labels on the neck of my dresses irritate me”, “I can’t remember things unless I see them”, “I can’t eat anything mushy” etc. We ourselves would have these not so common, little limitations.
At instances our lives become so uncomfortable even when simple things don’t go the way we want them; There is extra bit of sugar in the evening tea that you enjoy most after a tiring day of work, or there is a loud ‘papara band’ outside when u have a report deadline tomorrow.

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder fight their way through life day by day in a world designed for the neuro-typicals. Being neurologically atypical or one should call them neurologically diverse, Autistic persons don’t register the sensory inputs the way we do. Eventually their responses to stimuli also differ. Due to the lack of understanding many of these responses are labeled as ‘socially improper’, ‘behavioral deviation’ or simply ‘problems’.
An Autistic child starts screaming while waiting in a line to go to the assembly. Reasons could be, there are a lot of noises around which come as a sensory over load to the child, hence to drown those noises the child screams loud; the child is exposed to an unfamiliar situation with a lot of unfamiliar faces, the child is not simply able to feel ‘at home’; or it could be another sensory issue we fail to see and the child is not able to explain to us.

Sensory disorientation is only one dimension of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Lack of social interaction, very limited communication, limited ability for abstract thought and in some instances metabolic disorders are other issues associated with the spectrum.

As some of us believe, not every Autistic child is blessed to be a savant; not every Adult with Autism is destined to become world famous like Temple Grandin (a scientist with Autism). These children and Adults need a lot of support and understanding from the other side of the world so they can be who they ‘AUT’ to be.