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Humanizing autism

As April has come to a close, I’m sure that we’re all well aware of the existence of autism, whatever that may entail. Twenty percent of people, as reported by a National Alliance for Autism Research poll, say they are closely connected to someone with the condition. However, that familiarity doesn’t translate into knowledge. In fact, fewer than half of Americans claim to have even basic information on autism.

Even within that knowledgeable percentage, misconceptions are still prevalent. In Mead High School, announcements were made throughout the month that included some delightfully cold statistics and medical facts regarding the topic. Sadly, no effort was made to humanize them, thus the issue perpetuated.

That lack of empathy toward and understanding of people with autism breeds misconceptions regarding their behavioral and cognitive abilities. Often, people assume that those with autism aren’t capable of feeling empathy, which is absolutely false. In actuality, autistic people can feel emotions up to 400 percent more intensely. Some even claim that those with autism are not capable of healthy, positive relationships, which is utterly heartbreaking to hear; every autistic individual has the capacity to love and be loved, and that is what we need to bring awareness to.

Elsa Whanger


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