May 11, 2021
Autism is overrepresented as a problem, as a barrier, as a setback. As something that should be seen as something to be ashamed of, that they should try and rid themselves of. The group “Autism Speaks” has even offensively compared it to cancer. Autistic kids are told that they can’t succeed and that they are incapable of making it in the real world without help. This is harmful.
What we need more of is representation of autistic people who have made it or who have done amazing things. Greta Thunberg was an autistic girl from Sweden and she was the first to raise awareness about climate change. One of my favorite books is, The Game of My Life: A true story of challenge, triumph, and growing up autistic. It is about the autistic basketball player Jason McElwain. He managed his basketball team in high school, and they let him play for senior night and he ended up scoring twenty points in five minutes. We need to talk more about people such as Greta Thunberg and Jason McElwein.
I have long been a proponent of encouraging people to follow their dreams: ever since my first book was published (self-published) in eighth grade and my friend made a comment about how my dream was coming true and how that inspired him to go after his own dreams more. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to use my writing as an example that if people work hard enough and believe in themselves, then their dreams can come true too. That includes autistic people. The label doesn’t matter; we are capable of making our dreams come true too!