03 October 2012
I have been reading National Geographic since I was a young child. It fills me with utter delight to hold a fresh copy within my hands. As I venture into the magazine, I know that I will read and learn about the world in mostly positive exciting ways.
The discovery of a new plant, or the study of a newfound creature, warrants utmost caution, care, and environmental respect. Scientists often go through great lengths to efficiently recreate plant and animal environments while learning and teaching, as it would be an abomination to encroach upon, change, or redirect the fine ecosystem of a unique organism. Press and media surrounding new discoveries is, more times that not, carefully thought out and sincere in its depiction. Mistakes may be pointed out and corrected, but generally, there is mentionable collaboration amongst scientists and other involved peoples. Oftentimes, the species or organism itself is allowed to do the teaching.
What if there were to be an Autism Geographic magazine? I can only imagine the excitement of collecting such a periodical. Inside, there would be autistic people worldwide doing all sorts of different things in different environments. I would run my fingers over the high gloss pages and spend a lot of time rereading the most enticing articles.
I can’t imagine that there would be many people who would want to crush, alienate, or annihilate a new plant or animal species—unless it proved to be fatal to our survival.
Unfortunately, there are many wells from which prejudice is drawn from. And both hatred and misunderstanding stem from fear and miscommunication. It was not so long ago when mass consciousness projected thoughts that women, people of color, foreigners, and children, for example, were not only of lesser status, but also of unsound mind. Disability has been accommodated to some point, but there has not been enough of a shift in public perception regarding those who are different. Only in recent times, has the voice of the autistic come to be heard. Despite the best of intentions from those who care, wrongdoing and atrocity continue to prevail while feeding from ignorance and widespread lack of education.
We live in an indispensable world that dispenses. We are, at times, divided and broken, yet there is always power amongst like-minded individuals. There need only be one catalyst to ignite magnificent change.
Autistic children grow to be autistic adults. It is imperative that resources be directed toward providing and sustaining appropriate and effective education, integration, acceptance, opportunity, and legal protection. Housing and quality healthcare are also of utmost importance.
Voices, both autistic and non-autistic, are rising above the suffocating binds of invisibility, oppression, and misrepresentation. Now is the time to strike. Who will choose to be on board?
[Article originally published on Change.org 23 March 2009]