Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 3 Spring 2015 - Page 12

ZOOM IN Attitudes, Information and Education Amy Sequenzia W hen a child is diagnosed with a disability or born disabled, it is said that parents and family members grieve. That’s probably because the general perception of any disability is a negative one. Being disabled is likened to being trapped, cursed or unfortunate; disabilities are seen as undesirable, tragic and without hope for happiness. It is understandable that a family that does not know much about disabilities will begin worrying before seeking the so-needed education. That is why we need a change in attitudes. Instead of listening only to doctors and “experts,” parents need to seek adults with the same disability as their children – the real experts. Parents need to inform and educate themselves. If you want to make sure your child is accepted and respected by the rest of the world, if you want your child to have opportunities, you need to connect with those who are just like your child, even if so different. There are many proud disabled people who can give firsthand information and help families and friends by educating them about the realities of the disability. Reaching out does not mean that things are going to always be easy and simple. It means that your child or adult you are supporting will not be seen as someone who needs “fixing.” Disabled people are not broken, defective “almost people,” yet the information families receive from doctors is usually a list of deficits, followed by a list of things that need to be fixed, plus another list of approaches that can “minimize the deficits” in the disabled child’s life. Most doctors are not educated on disabilities. To many of them, disabled equals imperfect, and they will try to “correct” those imperfections to make us look like or function as close to the perfect “normal” as they can. In my case, one doctor sternly stated that the only hope my parents should have for me was to find a “nice institution” to care for me since I would never be able to learn anything. And there is also the very real fact that many doctors and therapists make a lot of money selling treatments that will make us “better” and “more desirable.” Parents are led to believe that if they don’t try everything the medical establishment proposes, they are not doing all that’s best for their children. 12 Zoom Autism Through Many Lenses