How the Media Should Be Covering Autism: A Letter to the Editor
Checkout this video:
The Importance of Autism Awareness
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently estimates that 1 in 59 children in the United States has Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), though the prevalence of autism has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. ASD is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and can affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Some people with ASD also have unusual interests or behaviors.
Though there is no known cure for ASD, there are treatments available that can improve symptoms and help people with ASD lead fulfilling lives. It is important for people with ASD to be diagnosed early so that they can start receiving treatment as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and intervention can make a big difference in the lives of people with ASD.
The media plays an important role in raising awareness about ASD and its effects on individuals and families. Unfortunately, media coverage of ASD often focuses on the negative aspects of the condition, such as violence or self-injury, without providing information about available treatments or how people with ASD can live happy, fulfilling lives. This type of coverage can contribute to misunderstandings and fear about ASD, which can make it harder for people with ASD to get the support and services they need.
It is crucial for the media to provide accurate, responsible coverage of ASD that highlights both the challenges and the strengths of people living with this condition. Only through understanding and acceptance can we hope to create a society that is inclusive of all types of differences.
The Prevalence of Autism
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most common developmental disabilities in the United States. It is estimated that 1 in 54 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with ASD. Autism occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
ASD is a “spectrum” disorder, which means that there is a wide range of symptoms and severities. Some people with ASD are verbal and have only mild symptoms, while others are nonverbal and have more severe symptoms. People with ASD often have difficulty with social interactions, communication, and repetitive behaviors.
There is no “cure” for ASD, but there are interventions and supports that can improve symptoms and help people with ASD lead productive and fulfilling lives.
The Different Types of Autism
There are many different types of autism, and the media should be doing a better job of representing this diversity.
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that there is a wide range in the severity of symptoms and the way they are manifested. There is no one-size-fits-all portrayal of autism in the media, and this can be frustrating and confusing for people who are trying to learn more about the condition.
There are three main types of autism: autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and PDD-NOS (pervasive development disorder – not otherwise specified). Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the term used to describe all three conditions.
Autistic disorder, or classical autism, is the most severe form of ASD. People with autistic disorder generally have significant difficulties in social interaction, communication, and imagination. They may also have repetitive behaviors or narrow interests.
Asperger’s syndrome is a less severe form of ASD. People with Asperger’s syndrome generally have normal intelligence and language development, but may have difficulty with social interaction and may be extremely focused on narrow interests.
PDD-NOS is a milder form of ASD. People with PDD-NOS generally have some difficulty with social interaction and communication, but not to the same extent as people with autistic disorder or Asperger’s syndrome.
The Causes of Autism
There is currently no known single cause of autism, but it is widely believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Research suggests that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some genes have been identified that may increase the risk for ASD, but the precise number and nature of these genes are not yet known. In addition, research suggests that a pregnant women’s exposure to certain chemicals may also play a role in ASD.
While the exact causes of ASD are not yet known, we do know that it is not caused by vaccines or by mercury poisoning.
The Symptoms of Autism
There is no one symptom of autism. Instead, People With Autism can have a range of symptoms. Some people with autism are very verbal, while others are nonverbal. People with autism may repeat certain words or behaviors, or they may have problems with social interactions and communicate in unusual ways.
The symptoms of autism can be different for each person. Some people with autism are more severely affected than others. The symptoms of autism can also change over time, depending on the person’s age and environment.
The Diagnosis of Autism
Autism is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It is characterized by repetitive behavior, social and communication difficulties, and Limited interests or unusual behaviors.
There is no one cause of autism, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a term used to describe a range of different conditions, all of which are characterized by these core features.
ASD can be diagnosed in children as young as 18 months old, but the average age of diagnosis is four years old. Early diagnosis and intervention are important for children with ASD because they can make a big difference in the child’s development and progress.
The media has an important role to play in raising awareness about ASD and promoting understanding of the condition. However, there have been some criticisms of the way the media has covered ASD in recent years.
Some people have accused the media of sensationalizing ASD, for example by giving undue focus to stories about rare and severe cases. This can create an inaccurate impression of what ASD is really like for most people who live with the condition.
Another criticism is that the media often focuses on stories about children with ASD, rather than adults. This can create the impression that ASD only affects young people, when in fact it is a lifelong condition. It is estimated that 1 in 100 adults also lives with ASD.
The media also has a role to play in combating stigma and promoting understanding of autism. For example, stories about people with ASD who are living successful and fulfilling lives can help to challenge negative stereotypes about the condition.
The Treatment of Autism
The way the media covers autism has a profound impact on how society views and treats people with the condition. Too often, the focus is on the most sensational cases or on treatments that are controversial or unproven. This can result in discrimination and false beliefs about autism and those who have it.
It is important for the media to cover stories about autism in a fair and responsible way. When covering stories about autism, the media should:
– Focus on the individual – each person with autism is unique and has their own story to tell.
– Highlight strengths and achievements – people with autism have many strengths and talents.
– Portray accurately – avoid stereotypes and generalizations about autism.
– Be respectful – use person-first language (e.g., “person with autism” not “autistic person”) and avoid offensive or ableist language.
The Prognosis of Autism
There is a growing consensus among experts that autism is a serious, lifelong condition that requires specialized supports and services. However, the way the media covers autism often reflects a more optimistic view, suggesting that many people with autism can overcome their challenges and lead happy and successful lives.
This discrepancy can be confusing and detrimental for those who are struggling to come to terms with their diagnosis. It is important for the media to accurately reflect the reality of living with autism, so that people can make informed decisions about their care and treatment options.
The Impact of Autism on Families
The media has a responsibility to accurately portray the reality of living with autism. Too often, the focus is on the challenges and negative aspects of the condition, without giving equal weight to the positive experiences and hope that many families have.
Autism can have a profound impact on families. In some cases, it can be incredibly difficult to cope with; in others, it can be a source of strength and resilience. There are many different ways that autism manifests, and each family experiences it in their own way.
It is important for the media to remember that autism is not just a medical condition; it is also a social and emotional one. The way that society reacts to autism can have a huge impact on how families cope with it. The media has a role to play in shaping public perception, and should do so in a way that is respectful and sensitive to the realities of life with autism.
The Importance of Early Intervention
early intervention is critical for children with autism According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children who receive early intervention services are more likely to be placed in regular education classes, have improved social skills, and communicate better than those who do not receive early intervention services.
The media play an important role in raising awareness about autism and its impact on families. However, media coverage of autism often focuses on sensational stories about meltdowns or tantrums, which can perpetuate negative stereotypes about people with autism.
It is important for the media to cover stories about autism that highlight the importance of early intervention and the successes of people with autism who receive services. These stories can help to change the way society views autism and show that people with autism can lead happy, fulfilled lives.
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.