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EDITORIAL: April is World Autism Month
Comox Valley Record - 4/15/2021
With so many worthy official "days" and months it's hard to keep track.
Most people are aware of April being Daffodil Month, in support of the Canadian Cancer Society.
Fewer realize that April 4 was Hug a Newsperson Day. (No we did not make that up - it's on the Internet; it must be true.)
On a more serious note,
April also marks World Autism Month - a time to bring people more aware of one of the most quickly growing, and one of the most baffling, disorders in society.
According to Autism Speaks Canada, autism is now the fastest growing and most commonly diagnosed neurological disorder in the country.
The 2018 National Autism Spectrum Disorder Surveillance System (NASS) Report estimates autism's prevalence as 1 in 66 children in Canada. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
Its prevalence in Canada has increased by more than 100 per cent in that past 10 years.
ASD is such a complex disorder that no two people on the spectrum are alike. A common explanation is that "if you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism."
And yet, we are so quick to judge.
We see videos of children having tantrums in public places, posted to social media, with the parents being shamed for not having control of their children.
Comments like "my child would not be 'allowed' to do that" or, "it's a shame there are no classes to teach good parenting."
The next time you see one of those videos, think about this: yes, it may be simply an out-of-control child, but chances are greater that the picture, or video, does not show the whole story. Not even close.
Possibly what the video doesn't show is as explainable as the bee sting that happened 10 seconds earlier.
Or, possibly, it's as inexplainable as autism, in which case, empathy is the road to take.
That parent loves his/her child every bit as much as you love yours. That parent may be more scared of the situation than you can imagine, and would travel the ends of the earth to see his/her child cured.
Take the time to learn about ASD. Rather than shun your neighbour's afflicted child, talk to your neighbour about the disorder. Perhaps there's something you can do to help alleviate the stress that child is going through.
You will never know without opening up the discussion on the issue.
(Adapted from a previous Comox Valley Record editorial)