The Autism Explosion

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I believe that I can go up to any person and ask, “Do you know someone on the autism spectrum?” and that person will know SOMEONE.

That person will have a nephew, a co-worker’s son, or a hairdresser’s niece. This is just my belief but when I’ve actually gone out into the world and tested this theory, the results generally support it.

My theory: I believe most people know someone. Autism is simply that prevalent.

Add this into the mix…How many of you can think about “crazy” Uncle Charlie and say to yourself, “Well, maybe he’s on the spectrum.”

Why is autism so common these days? Why wasn’t it “known” years ago?

In my opinion, the answer has two parts.

It’s a combination of kids being evaluated much more than they had been in the past because we know what to look for these days. Awareness is much better and we no longer hide Uncle Charlie in a home somewhere.

There is not only more awareness of autism out there but more information about what is autism.

Autism is simply in the conversation these days. It’s no longer a taboo topic. And the information is no longer just the question…”Is my child ‘Rain Man’ or not?”

FYI…The character, Raymond, in the movie ‘”Rain Man” was – in my opinion – a decently developed character. I’m not knocking the way the character was written or performed in any way. And, the situation the character was in was typical of the times. (Raymond lived in an institution and had some mid-range but not severe behavioral issues.)

However, my point is that Raymond was one person (albeit a character) with autism. He was not and should never be considered representative of ALL people on the autism spectrum.

He was typical of the times, though. And so was the story, moving a sheltered autistic individual out of his familiar surroundings and into a totally unfamiliar environment had some very predictable results. Raymond struggled.

However, the situation of Raymond is simply not how it’s done today. These days, autistic adults either still live at home or live in groups situations and autistic children stay at home. Add that to the fact that people are less afraid to discuss autism, and you have a completely different atmosphere these days.

In my experience, I can connect with someone who knows about autism or wants to know about autism in about five seconds. I can end up talking with that person for ten or twenty minutes because it’s common ground or that person has a thirst for that knowledge.

It’s like a switch in me that I know how to turn on these days. I’ve either found a “safe” person to talk to or I’ve discovered what I like to call a “newbie.”

To me, a newbie is either a person new to the world of autism or one who may be afraid to talk about autism but they have it in their life.

To them, I can be their safe person to talk to.

I gladly accept that role.

The autism explosion is everywhere these days. I watch the TV show, “Parenthood,” for the excellent writing but also to watch how the show handles Max, a teenager with Aspergers.

You see it in the news, in the newspapers, in movies, and I’ve written about it in my own fiction as well as my nonfiction and my blogs.

The word autism is simply out there now.

Autism is simply in the conversation, it is an explosion, and I think it’s a good thing to talk about autism so we can all connect with each other and keep it in the conversation.

To Find Kimberly Kaplan:

www.kimberlykaplan.com
www.smashwords.com or Amazon Kindle ebook “A Parents’ Guide to Early Autism Intervention”
Twitter: @tipsautismmom

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