“The most interesting people you’ll find are ones that don’t fit into your average cardboard box. They’ll make what they need, they’ll make their own boxes.” - Dr. Temple Grandin
April is World Autism Awareness Day. It was started by the United Nations to inspire member states to raise awareness about people with autism.
Every year’s World Autism Awareness Day has focused on a particular theme or topic. This year the theme is “Empowering Women and Girls with Autism.”
Males are up to four times more likely than females to be diagnosed with the condition. This has led to a lack of female participation and inclusion in autism studies and research. Which, because of the very different social experiences between the sexes during adolescence, creates a remarkable gap in our understanding of the spectrum, and how it affects all people.
For example, a 2012 survey conducted by The National Autistic Society found only 20% of girls with autism who responded to the survey were diagnosed by the age of 11. While 50% of boys with autism were diagnosed with ASD at the same age.
The same survey suggested that 42% of females may have been misdiagnosed. The number is 30% when it comes to males.
Individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder are our neighbors, our friends, or family. ASD does not play favorites. What society needs to do is not classify individuals on the spectrum as disabled. We need to recognize the value that comes with seeing the world differently. We need to embrace the strengths of those on the spectrum. We need to recognize the valuable contributions people with ASD make every day. And we need to be thankful for that contribution.
Autism is not a disability. It is a different ability. Happy World Autism Awareness Day.
“Autism … offers a chance for us to glimpse an awe-filled vision of the world that might otherwise pass us by.” - Dr. Colin Zimbleman, Ph.D.