I know, what does that have to do with decorating, right? Well, it doesn’t.
But given that it’s a day to raise awareness about autism, and that I have an (albeit small) audience to share some awareness with, I couldn’t let the day pass without addressing it. Even if you were expecting a decorating post, I’d love for you to stick around just a few more minutes. I promise to keep it short.
When I grew up in the 70s/80s, I don’t think I really even heard about autism. It makes sense, though, since back then, the estimated autism rate was 4 in 10,000 (1980). So the chances that you ‘knew’ somebody who’d been diagnosed with autism were slim. (But that doesn’t mean you didn’t.)
In any case, the first introduction that most of us had to autism was the movie Rain Man. I was in high school at the time, and I remember Rain Man well. For me, and for most adults my age and older, this is the stereotype that stuck. Even 25 years later, Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of an autistic man with extreme math skills, poor social skills and obsession with routine is the association most people make with autism.
Fast forward to 2013.
Now, in my own children’s generation, and perhaps yours’, the rate of autism is estimated 1 in 50 or higher, with boys being 4x more likely to be diagnosed than girls.
No that wasn’t a typo. It’s 1 in 50.
My intention is not to go into all the reasons why this is so; but you can read about the theories here.
Instead, the point I want to make is that there are now hundreds of thousands more children out there who’ve been diagnosed with autism since our school days. Yet, for the most part, the same 1980s stereotype remains. I know this because it was a stereotype that I held too.
That was until Autism Spectrum Disorder touched my life. MORE