The 4th of July can be complicated for people both on and off the spectrum. As a teenager in the summer, I worked in a seasonal store my aunt managed that sold fireworks. I remember the excitement of customers purchasing explosives sure to fuel spectacular shows. The 4th of July was always fun and just a little bit bit dangerous (My cousin burned his hand badly enough one year to land him in the hospital and justify all my mom’s warnings about firework safety). No matter where we celebrated, cookouts and quality time with friends and family were always a part of the holiday. Now that I’ve grown older and had kids, the holiday brings a mixed bag of feelings. Loud fireworks after bedtime outside of whatever celebration we are participating in are not welcome. The 4th of July also presents unique challenges for individuals on the spectrum. Despite these challenges, there are ways to accommodate for a safer and more enjoyable holiday. This begins with learning about auditory sensitivities and how they impact people.
If a prenatal test existed to screen your child for autism, would you have it performed? Should sperm banks be allowed to screen embryos for an increased potential for autism? These questions explore the modern ethical dilemma of disability and eugenics, a controversy our society has grappled with for decades. This topic recently surfaced in the autism community after Ari Ne’eman, President and co-founder of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, wrote an article for the Guardian revealing that Britain’s largest sperm bank was screening embryos for autism. Prenatal screening for autism is problematic due to the variation of symptoms on the spectrum, and the ethical implications of eliminating a group of people from the human gene pool.
Just as neurotypicals who befriend autistics can help them gain confidence and maintain a healthy emotional state, neurotypical parents can also benefit from establishing friendships with autistic adults. In fact, it is a useful first step to take upon discovering your child’s diagnosis. » Read more
My introduction to autism came in 2000 when I was in high school and my younger brother (who was in eighth grade at the time) was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. I didn’t know a lot about the spectrum then, but I had lived side-by-side with my brother long enough to begin understanding what autism can look like and some of the struggles autistic people face in an unaccommodating environment.
I understood autism more intimately when my first son was born in 2008. » Read more