OK. So when I do my Autism trainings for work, I stick to more or less a script. I can deviate from it a little and have fun with it, but it is a script nonetheless. Well during my spiel, I have to give Autism statistics. I have been doing this for 2 1/2 years now, roughly. I am so used to saying “Statistically, one in 68 children has some form of Autism, according to the CDC.” Recently, a new statistic was released. It is now a whopping one in 59 children…emphasis on the word children. This does not include adults on the Spectrum. A lot of times, adults 40 and older are undiagnosed. Why? Well maybe Autism wasn’t as in the public eye back then as it is now. I was diagnosed at 7. My girlfriend was diagnosed at 18. We are the same age. So how is it she was diagnosed 11 years after me? Honestly…I have no idea.
But back to my work premise. I now have to alter my stats spiel from 1:68 to 1:59. Sure, 9 people may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that this is only children in the United States represented…yeah, it’s a lot.
So is this a “Good” thing or a “bad” thing that the stats are rising? Honestly, I think it depends on who you are asking. Maybe this is the self-centered comedian in me talking, but I welcome new recruits to the Autistic community. Pretty soon, with statistics rising as steadily as they are…pretty soon we will have an army of Autistic people! And maybe some of them need a “voice”; a “leader”; someone to look up to. I don’t wanna toot my own horn, but if enough people actually listen and give a damn about what I am saying and what I am trying to do and get done…well, who knows? Maybe I can fill the void.
Now am I saying “Bow down and worship me! I AM the leading voice on Autism”? No…not only no, but HELL NO! Nobody can be that. (Sorry Temple Grandin.). I know how it impacts me and me only. I love talking about Autism and what it can mean to me. It’s a dream come true. I think as much coverage and a bad rep as Autism gets, we need to focus on the “good” part of Autism. Autism makes me unique. It makes me…me. I am not going to let my Autism define me as a human being, but it is an integral part of who I am.
To me, Autism is my job. My boss at my job respects me for being so outspoken and open about my diagnosis and my takeaway from it. And I, in turn, respect my employers for allowing me to explain my side of it.
So one in 59. That is the statistic as of April 25, 2018. Up 9 numbers, or 3% from 2004. And in another 14 years, who knows what the number or percentage will be? I am willing to adjust. As long as there are people with Autism, there will be self-advocates. And to them, I say…welcome to the club!