Hi guys! This is my Catalyst Conference project. The topic i chose to do is Autism. Autism is a real, very severe disease that many people around the world have. Sadly, many people in the world also discriminate against people with Autism. The reason why i was inspired to do the project on Autism is because my close friend at school, Micheal, has autism. He doesn’t fit in socially, and people avoid his because he is “autistic”. Many people around the school also use the term “autistic” in a derogatory way. Even if they don’t mean to do harm or bully people like Micheal, they still contribute to the discrimination against Autism and other mental disorders. To learn more about Micheal and my personal story with Autism, here is a YouTube video:
What Is Autism?
Despite countless people mocking and making fun of Autism, many don’t know what Autism is and how it works. This ignorance is a big reason to why Autism and other mental disorders are discriminated against. Many people cannot understand people with Autism, because they don’t understand what Autism is. For example, Alzheimer’s is a well-known disease, but it’s much less made fun of on the internet. Why? This is because people understand Alzheimer’s, and what it does to people. This makes it easier for people to relate to people with Alzheimer’s, and therefore understand the need to help them. But with Autism, many people don’t understand the disease, making it impossible to sympathize with them. This causes social isolation and hostility to people with Autism. This is why spreading awareness about Autism is a good step towards reducing hostility and racism. Here is a short video by The National Autistic Society explains what Autism is and how to help.
What Needs to Change?
In my opinion, there are many things wrong with the way Autism is treated and view around the world. A major part of this is the way Autistic people are made fun of in particular online. The term “Autistic” is used in a derogatory way in online communities and sadly, even in schools such as mine. This creates mass discrimination against people with Autism. To put it into perspective, the Native Americans were looked down upon and made fun of by the whites not long ago. This is happening right now in our modern world, but instead with disorders.
Culturally, where I live in China, disorders are also looked down upon. Disorders such as Autism aren’t talked about, and even worse, many parents hide the fact that their child is Autistic/disabled. This makes it very bad for Autistic people, as without the needed care, many of them cannot develop into fully functioning adults on their own. They are looked down upon, and beaten up by society. Autism should not be a bad thing, in fact, Autism should be encouraged and supported by many in the community.
How Can You Help?
Everyone plays a part in society, including you. Even if you don’t use Autism in a derogatory way, there are many things you can still do. For example, telling people off from using derogatory terms like “Autistic” and “Retarded” is a great start. If you are at a school, you could make posters about Autism and place them around the school. You could also ask your teacher to allow you to show a video explaining how autism works at the weekly school assembly. Even if you are an adult, you can do a lot to help! You could donate money to organizations like Autism Speaks (https://www.autismspeaks.org/), which contribute to Autism research and spreading awareness. You can even go to Autism rallies, or go to your local Autism organization to see what you can do for them. Regardless of who you are, there is always a way to help, there are no excuses.
Heres a great list of organizations you can donate to!:
- http://www.autism.org.uk/ (National Autistic Society)
- http://www.autism-society.org/ (Autism Society)
- https://www.autism.com/ (Autism Research Institute)
- https://centerforautism.com/ (Center for Autism and Related Disorders)
Try to be encouraging to Autistic people! Talking with them may only take 5 minutes of your time, but can make their whole day!
How do I deal with Autistic People?
Simple answer: just treat them nicely and try to help when they cannot understand something. Autistic people are still people, they have feelings and thoughts, they just don’t see the world the way that you do. Even if they annoy you with the way that they act, be patient and understand that they were just born different. There’s nothing wrong with them, they just see the world through different lenses. In fact, what may be annoying you might just be an act of friendship or a call for help.
I made a short game in the form of a survey to try and help people visualize how an autistic person feels everyday. Please try out the game at this link below:
After you have completed the game, you might feel a bit weird. During that quiz, you went through the feelings an Autistic person goes through for a day. You definitely wouldn’t want to be in that position for a day, let alone for your whole life. This is why it is important that you help those in need, and end discrimination.
How Shouldn’t I say to Autistic People?
Many people don’t intentionally hurt Autistic people verbally, but say things that they shouldn’t ignorantly. To demonstrate, here is a funny and creative video titled “10 things not to say to autistic people” made by an Autistic person. Even though this video may be funny and humorous, it shows the ignorance of the statements people casually make about autism, and how it hurts people like him.
How many people does Autism affect? Does Autism affect more males than females? According to CDC demographics, Autism affects 1 in 68 children! Out of all those people, 34% say that getting picked on at school is the biggest problem for them. Autism is also 4.5 times more likely to affect boys than girls. Autism is usually diagnosed at the average age of 4. Autism prevalence rates have also increased dramatically in the past few years, as indicated by the graph below.