Is this what the word autism has become? A word only to describe those who feel they have a difference, a super power, a gift? Certainly not a disability as many of us know autism to be.
On July 27 on Twitter, Chris Packham, NAS (National Autism Society) Ambassador posted this tweet.
‘This man is calling us disabled . It’s an abominable insult beyond any comprehension . . . we must not tolerate this division when we are striving to implement a wider understanding and awareness of autism’
Does a ‘wider understanding’ only include those like himself who was diagnosed as an adult in 2005?
Do those, like my boys, diagnosed before the age of three with classic childhood autism, no longer have a disability? Does the word autism no longer hold any real meaning for those with the type of autism which affects every minute of every day of their lives and impacts on those around them too?
If not disability, what word should we use?
How can a child with no effective form of communication or ability to cope in mainstream life not be disabled by their autism? We can’t sugar coat autism. For many children, autism is a real disability. There is no other word.
It is not an insult to call them disabled. We need that word. My boys were eligible for many things including claiming DLA (disability living allowance). That word, disability is still a word we need to use to enable them to get the support they need. Some people may be uncomfortable using it but that doesn’t mean they speak for everyone else.
Is this now the public perception of autism? That it is no longer a disability?
(My lovely boy Thomas, 20, needing help to thread his race tag onto his shoelaces last Friday)