You may have seen your friends posting some crazy Facebook statuses this past week for autism awareness. I liked a status to show support for raising awareness, but I was very appalled when the Facebook message that followed started with this:
You shouldn’t have liked or commented on my last status hahaha.
Wait, what? If this is about awareness, why is the first thing I see something meant to shame me? There is absolutely nothing funny about bringing shame anywhere in close association with any disease. Why make someone feel badly about being tricked? Now, let me ask you, what if the person who was tricked were somewhere on the spectrum? I think that becomes a lot less funny, for something that wasn’t funny to begin with. The other part of this that really bothers me is the whole “post a crazy status that has absolutely nothing to do with autism and is also so incredibly fake and see who you can trick.” No- if you want to raise awareness about this or any other disease SPEAK UP. Say hey, autism really sucks, so let’s do something together. Don’t make it a secret, don’t make it shameful, don’t hide behind crazy statuses and Facebook messages.
Before I move on, I would like to say a bit about autism and actually raise awareness for this disease. First, there is no scientific research to support that autism is caused by vaccinations. In fact, research in 1977 showed that autism as strong links to genetics and biological brain development.
- The first-known diagnosed case of autism was in 1943, and the word “autism” had its first use in 1908 to describe certain schizophrenic patients who were withdrawn.
- In 1944, Hans Asperger first described what we know now as Asperger’s Syndrome, or a mild form of autism.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the occurrence of autism has increased from 1 in 150 (2007) to 1 in 110 (2009), an increase due to better screening and diagnosis, not increased prevalence.
The sad fact is, there is still a lot that we do not understand about autism, and that is due in part to there being a lot that we do not understand about the brain. World Autism Awareness Day isn’t until April 2 (Autism Awareness Month lasts for all of April), but there is no reason why we should ever wait until a publicized day to speak up for something we believe in. There are SO MANY organizations and charities open ALL YEAR ROUND with opportunities for raising awareness and increasing support. If you truly care, take action beyond a Facebook status/private message. If you care this much, please show it.
Moving on, this idea of disguises came to me from this incident. We are all hiding behind something. I think often we hear and/or focus on something that we are hiding from, and that is not what I want this post to be about today. I want you to know this simple truth: most of the time we are hiding something about ourselves with the idea that we are protecting ourselves. This may be true, but it may also be false. In the case of this Facebook post, Autism Awareness is hiding behind silly statuses. You might be hiding depression behind a smile and laughter. You might be hiding fear behind crazy stunts. You might be hiding mistrust behind asking for favors. Whatever it is that you are hiding, and whatever you are using to hide it behind, at some point the curtain is going to come off. If it doesn’t, you are not truly being yourself. And that my friends is absolutely tragic.
Update (1/19/2017): I saw this video on Facebook this morning and found it absolutely beautiful and inspirational. Watch Here