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What Do You Wish People Knew About Autism?

What Do You Wish People Knew About Autism?

Individuals from organizations throughout the New York metro area share the things they wish people knew about people with autism.


Many misconceptions still exist around autism spectrum disorder. So, in honor of Autism Awareness Month, we asked people from organizations throughout the New York metro area to describe what they wish the world knew about people with autism, both to help erase some of those misconceptions about autism and to shed some light on how autism cannot define individuals.

For example, here are five common misconceptions about autism spectrum disorder and individuals diagnosed with autism that just aren't true:

  • Vaccines cause autism
  • Individuals on the spectrum are anti-social and don't have feelings
  • People with autism exhibit challenging and/or maladaptive behaviors
  • Those on the spectrum are savants and/or are fixated on one topic
  • Individuals with ASD can’t go to college, have jobs, or get married

Our sources want you to know: People with autism can do anything they put their minds to. But we’ll let them tell you!
 

“From my perspective as a social worker who is an educational advocate for families seeking special education services, I would want everyone to know how broad the diagnosis is and that no one person diagnosed with autism is the same as another. Even though the assessments are uniform and standardized, the way the diagnosis intertwines with the person is so individualized. It is nearly impossible to have a set image of what a diagnosis of autism looks like on each person. So, to answer your question, I would want everyone to consider a person with autism as an individual exhibiting characteristics that are unique to them. A diagnosis does not relegate someone to a group, nor does it define them, but it does provide a window into who they are, their wishes, dreams, and aspirations. And, it’s precisely this uniqueness that helps to define their diagnosis.” 
–Monica L. Mandell, LMSW, a bilingual social worker at MLM Advocacy, Westchester


“I wish people knew that people with autism are our brothers and sisters that have a bright light that shines with love and beauty.”
–Ana Dimas, Bronxville Ballet founder, Westchester




“That they are unique and should not be stereotyped based on outdated depictions shown in the media. Also, that each of them is unique in their own way and they deserve compassion and respect.”
–Kpana Kpoto, an INCLUDEnyc staffer, Bronx


“I wish people knew that some [people with autism] who struggle with social communications are also emotionally intelligent.”
–Lori Podvesker, Brooklyn


“With the support they need, they don't have limits! They can be whatever they want to be. It may take longer, but they will.”
–Pia Fouilloux, Brooklyn


“Many people who fall somewhere on the autism spectrum are extremely observant. This often leads to having sharp-witted senses of humor.  I am constantly laughing when I am around one friend in particular.”
–Maggie Downham, Brooklyn


“I have been supporting individuals with autism for 13 years now. During my time, I have met some of the most talented, passionate, and hardworking people who thrive when they are included. If we took the time to educate ourselves and create individualized environmental supports to enhance inclusivity, society would not only benefit economically, we would become more compassionate and understanding people.”
Jeremy Scalchunes, vocational supervisor at the Nicholas Center, Long Island


RELATED: This Coronavirus Toolkit Will Help Your Child with Special Needs

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Jacqueline Neber

Author: Jacqueline Neber is a social journalism MA candidate at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. When she’s not reporting, you can find her petting someone else’s dog. See More

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