A few years back, specifically on the 1st of November 2007 the UN Grand Assembly approved the declaration of 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day, thus making the whole month of April World Autism Awareness Month where people raise awareness and get educated about the disorder.
Then two years ago, here in Egypt people started casually using the word autistic/متوحد as an insult claiming that nothing’s wrong with it, but the thing is it’s disrespectful and extremely offensive to use a disorder as an insult, so please bear with me and you’ll know why it shouldn’t be an insult. Consider this our anti-bullying campaign.
What Autism Spectrum Disorder Is:
ASD is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder and it is characterized by two major impairments:
- having difficulties with communicating and interacting.
- engaging in repetitive behaviors
researches have shown that one out of every 60 children in the world get diagnosed with ASD, the children tend to show signs during childhood and it persists into adulthood.
The word “Spectrum” in ASD means that it varies from one individual to another and that not everyone has the same symptoms or needs, so that totally negates the widespread stereotypes about people who have ASD.
Why do these stereotypes exist in the first place? Probably the main reason is the inaccurate portrayal of autistic people in movies and shows, the media often shows them as either a savant who has extraordinary talents and is exceedingly good at math or they get shown as quiet and helpless, there’s no denying that some of them are like that, but we cannot completely ignore that the spectrum has more characteristics than what’s always shown on TV. Autism is much more than what media claims it to be.
One of the major struggles that adults with Autism go through is that most research and support is directed to children only, and as a result of that most of them don’t get the support and care needed, some are unemployed due to their condition, and some have undiagnosed physical and mental illnesses.
In the end, ASD is not a disease nor is it contagious, simply it’s just a behavioural disorder that has many types; people should get more educated about it so they’d be able to offer their right support, and please for god’s sake, stop using متوحد as an insult.
Written by: Iman Safouh