I read the article “Infantalizing Autism” by Stevenson. I never realized how unaccounted for adults were. I guess I never even thought about it because of how many adults are involved in the Autism community. There are adults who advocate, there are adults who donate money, there are adults seeking answers. But none of those adults are actually autistic. They are parents and friends who know someone in their lives that are affected, but aren’t affected themselves. So how can they speak on the behalf of someone who has Autism? Isn’t it better to hear from those people who can articulate for themselves what it feels like to have autism i.e. Autistic Adults? Based on this article they have been ignored and disregarded in almost every forum.
Stevenson talks about four in particular where Autism is prevalent. The first one is the patient run organizations. Parents search for treatments/cures for their newly diagnosed kids and 95% of photos on Autism related informative websites show children. Children are literally the face of autism.
Charitable Organizations were the second forum Stevenson discussed. They frequently use children to pump up the pity party and encourage adults who feel bad for these kids to donate. TaxExemptWorld.com identified organizations that were national charities that talked mostly about donations going to children, and explicit definitions of autism for children, and failed to include how autism affects adults.
Popular media is a viscous cycle. It tries to represent reality, and then reality is shaped by society and the media. Stevenson says, “Society Brandishes the disability of autism as pertaining only to children.” 90% of the autistic characters portrayed in the 1-5 fictional books researched were children.
The last forum that Stevenson discusses is the US News Industry. Newspapers document the aspects of society, including disability. They use rhetoric that makes having disability a bad thing, and then they attach children to this stigma. All of a sudden stories are being documented on how children overcome their disabilities and become normalized adults. They focus on children who face autism and how they overcome their shortcomings. Congrats to them, but what about the adults who have learned how to live in a normal world with their autism? I personally think that is an even more impressive feat than growing out of it.
Autistic adults are incredibly underrepresented. All we have been talking about in this class is how much education and representation affects this population, but even we have only discussed how autism affects children. The video (https://rethinkingautism.com/Support_Group_Video.html) made me really understand how much they are trying to reach out. This woman has autism and doesn’t seem like it or look like it. But she struggles with a lot in her daily routine, and people aren’t even listening to her. If anything, they should be devoting their attention completely to her because she is the only one who REALLY knows what is going on.