It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control that one out of 68 Americans are on the Autism Spectrum, so chances are, you know someone on the Autism Spectrum! Autism presents differently in every person, yet the media often relies on specific stereotypes of Autism when it is portrayed by characters in movies, books or television. Furthermore, when writing about Autism, the press typically focuses on the negative aspects of Autism. People and families coping with Autism very seldom see positive portrayals of people with Autism anywhere in the media- something that hurts students with Autism who are seen as “problematic” or “hard to deal with”- instead of being seen as unique individuals with outstanding gifts and talents! Individuals with Autism are too often reminded of their limitations, rather than being encouraged to pursue their strengths.
Because of the stigma placed on individuals with Autism, studies have found that 2/3 of young people on the Autism Spectrum have no full-time employment and no secondary education plans two years after their highschool graduation, and only 58% of those with Autism are employed later in their twenties. National Longitudinal Transition Study-2.
But as a society, we can take steps to change these disheartening statistics. Instead of placing limitations on people with Autism, we must instead focus on helping students on the spectrum achieve their maximum potential by equipping them with the tools they need for success during and after school. By placing limits on one in 68 Americans because of a diagnosis, we are all losing out on their talents and their incredible potential.