Many still ignorant of struggles with autistic disorders

"With April coming to a close, many people probably don’t realize that April is Autism Awareness Month. Other special months such as Black History Month in February get a lot of recognition and for good reason. However, I believe that Autism should be given more attention. I hate when ignorant people regard those with autism as retarded or dumb.

"Just in case you are unfamiliar with what it exactly is, let me explain. The autism spectrum disorders, or ASD’s, are a variety of different levels of developmental disabilities that affect the brain and can cause problems with communication and behavior in those affected. There are less severe versions of it, such as Asperger syndrome, which allows more social interaction than Autism but still has some of the signs. Despite what some believe, this somewhat limits what the person can do verbally. He or she can become very focused on a certain task or hobby compared to those without it.

"There have been few media portrayals of people with Autism, the most notable being "Rain Man," starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. The film tells the story of autistic adult Raymond Babbitt (Hoffman) and his effect on his brother Charlie Babbitt (Cruise.) Charlie thinks his brother is just acting out for attention throughout most of the movie but finally realizes his brother is who he is and nothing can change that. The movie does a good job of giving an idea of what it’s like but there should be more done today to expand awareness. With the majority of garbage that is shown on TV and in theatres; I can’t see why more isn’t being done to advocate it and the struggles involved.

"I have a personal connection to Autism and the challenges it creates since I have an autistic cousin. She is like any other girl her age, attending high school, listening to music and enjoying the company of family. She knows all the words to the latest songs and can solve puzzles better than most people; however she has certain things that set her apart, like little quirks. I admit growing up I though it was an act and found it kind of funny. I’ll even admit that I mocked her about it as a young child until I matured and realized what was really going on. My point is that just because someone may be a little different doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with him or her.

"So what exactly can be done to educate people about autism and its symptoms? For starters, there’s a good chance that you know someone who has or is affected by autism in some way. It affects nine in 1000 people in the U.S., and that number has been dramatically increasing since the 80s. For more information, check out sites like autism-society.org or autismspeaks.org. Hopefully people will become more educated about Autism and stop ignorance.

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