This is not a standard Autism Awareness Day post. In this post am I advocating a different kind of Autism awareness.
I want to address this piece directly to those of us who have neurological and developmental differences: Those with Autism (all forms), AD(H)D, Tourettes, OCD, ODD, NVLD, SPD/SID:
Have pity on the Neurotypicals (NTs). They are in decline.
Look at the rate at which our population is growing: In 2004, Autism impacted one person in 166. In 2007 it was 1 in 150. If we follow this growth in a linear pattern, Autistics will outnumber the normies around 2036. That's just Autism, of course. If you factor in the other stuff, particularly ADD and ADHD, which is about 3% of the current population, the timeline is shorter.
It's scary, right? In about thirty years, we will be in charge. We really should start planning now. First of all there is the name: By 2036, We will be the neurologically typical. So we need a new name for them. I think we may want to consider "Neurological Throwback". This way the acronym stays the same, which will provide some continuity and should prove useful for all sorts of reasons.
We need to be kind to the NTs that remain, especially the children, who will probably suffer the same isolation and confusion that we remember from our own childhood. We should try and learn their ways, and do our best to help them fit in. We should try to understand their insistence on timliness and routine (if we have ADHD) and their constant changing of routines (if we are Autistic). We must try and learn some of their social customs: like smalltalk -just to keep them comfortable. It is amazing how may NTs wish to discuss the current weather; -as it that were more than a two or three word conversation; as opposed to global weather patterns over the past 100 years, which is far more interesting. We should bear this in mind. And they also have this curious obsession with "eye contact", so although this is extraordinarily distracting for many of us, we should make an effort. After all, many of them fought very hard for us. OK it was mostly our parents, but still. We should return the favor. Pay it forward, as it were.
I guess they need a ribbon too. I like the AIDS ribbon. It is pretty. If AIDS is cured by 2036, I think the NTs should have that one. The other glaring option of course, is the "puzzle ribbon". We won't need a ribbon anymore, as we will be setting the policy. But... I don't know. Personally I wasn't a big fan of the puzzle ribbon. Well, let's see if it fits. Here is the ADA's explanation of the symbolism.
The puzzle pattern reflects the mystery and complexity of the autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope—hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and appropriate treatments, people with autism will lead fuller, more complete lives.
Personally, I think that's a bit insulting. But technically, if you substitute "Autism Spectrum for "Neurological throwback", it almost fits:
The puzzle pattern reflects the mystery and complexity of the Neurological Throwback. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope—hope that through increased awareness of NTs, and through early intervention and appropriate treatments, people who are neurological throwbacks will lead fuller, more complete lives.
Well, maybe not...
Another option would be to just go for a ribbon that it the opposite of Autism. How about plain gray? A plain gray ribbon to represent the inpeneratrable fog that is the NT mind/communication style when seen from an Autistic point of view. Hmmm. It's a definite possibility.
Education of NTs will be important, The population shift will occur among the youngest kids first (obviously) so we need to start thinking about the schools NOW. IDEA will need to be completely re-vamped (as will the ADA). We should devote more schools purely to what used to be called "Special Education" and ramp up or programs for ABA, speech therapy, occupational therapy etc therein. In fact, we probably need to redesign a lot of these schools from the ground up for lighting, seating, noise pollution and other sensory distractions. We could leave a few classrooms in the old style of desks, bright lights and bright colors for the remaining NT students and teachers. We may even devote a few special schools just for the teaching of NT students, as verbal-based learning will become more and more specialized in the future.
With that in mind, we should have existing NT teachers document NT learning styles and design appropriate curricula for future use, as the Autie/Aspie teachers of the future may have difficulty understanding and teaching these kids.
We can start thinking now about assigning a World Neurothrowback Awareness day. I propose we just give them this one: April 2nd. After the population shift, we won't need it anymore. They can have it.
So today: April second is Autism Awareness day. It is the day that all of us on the Autistic Spectrum (or related disorder) should be aware of our future responsibilities, and to start preparing to accommodate the dwindling population of Neurothrowbacks. Our time is fast approaching. I don't think the world is nearly ready.
Think about it.