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Monday, July 5, 2010

Generation Gap in Perceptions of Autism

At the Bloomington Alternative, Steven Higgs suggests that there might be a generation gap in perceptions of autism. He writes of Travis Roach, a young man with Asperger's, his mother Lisa, his sister Chelsea, and her friend Megan:

In terms of negative reactions to Travis, Lisa casts the tale in generational terms. "There's a couple adults at McDonalds that's had problems with his talking," she says. But Chelsea and Megan's generation -- both are college seniors -- has grown up with the nationwide epidemics of autism and developmental disabilities, such as attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities. More than one in four children in the Metropolitan School District of Mount Vernon -- 26.1 percent -- received special education services during the 2008-09 school year, according to Indiana Department of Education data.

"They don't think anything about them," Lisa says. "It's adults who have problems."

And that reminded me of another salient moment I experienced with the father of an elementary-aged boy with Asperger's. Only somewhat tongue-in-cheek, he suggested a day's worth of awareness-raising events where kids with autism mix with the public. His suggested title for the event:

"Get Over It, It's Autism"