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Embrace the Differences: View Autism in a new light

Students+and+family+members+from+Johnson+Primary+School+march%2C+holding+signs+and+banners+in+support+of+autism+awareness+aboard+Marine+Corps+Base+Camp+Lejeune%2C+Friday.+According+to+the+center+for+disease+control+and+prevention%2C+one+in+every+68+children+in+the+U.S.+is+diagnosed+with+the+disorder.+%28Photo+by%3A+Lance+Cpl.+Andrea+Ovalle%29
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Embrace the Differences: View Autism in a new light

Students and family members from Johnson Primary School march, holding signs and banners in support of autism awareness aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Friday. According to the center for disease control and prevention, one in every 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with the disorder. (Photo by: Lance Cpl. Andrea Ovalle)

Students and family members from Johnson Primary School march, holding signs and banners in support of autism awareness aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Friday. According to the center for disease control and prevention, one in every 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with the disorder. (Photo by: Lance Cpl. Andrea Ovalle)

U.S. Marines

Students and family members from Johnson Primary School march, holding signs and banners in support of autism awareness aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Friday. According to the center for disease control and prevention, one in every 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with the disorder. (Photo by: Lance Cpl. Andrea Ovalle)

U.S. Marines

U.S. Marines

Students and family members from Johnson Primary School march, holding signs and banners in support of autism awareness aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Friday. According to the center for disease control and prevention, one in every 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with the disorder. (Photo by: Lance Cpl. Andrea Ovalle)

Melissa Cohen, Centurion Staff

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Based on my personal experiences dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome (also commonly known as High-functioning autism), autism has become a never-ending label and a way in which people feel it is easier to define those who are deemed to be “different.”
For the past year, I have been observing the views on autism of specific people who are considered to be “neurotypical” and how they refer to those who have been diagnosed. My results have shown that more than half of the people interviewed and observed cite autism negatively, with one person in particular commenting, “Autism is a disease.”
However, further research and my own personal experiences of living with a special disability, such as High-functioning autism, shows that autism can have a positive effect on your life. It can also give you the opportunity to hone in on many other abilities and skills you may possess.
One high school student gave her own definition of what autism meant to her. She said, “Autism can cause hyperactivity but usually, people with autism are much stronger in fields of creativity and are usually nicer.”
According to Autism Speaks organization, which is considered the largest autism organization in the world, every individual with autism possesses different qualities and traits setting them apart from others. In many cases, these traits and qualities help them build and maintain strong careers in a wide array of fields.
In the media, we are surrounded by images of the way we are supposed to dress and appear to the public. The media may not always acknowledge the people that may not “fit the part” but have achieved a lot of their goals in a short time.
On the autism spectrum, we are surrounded by writers, singers, and actors such as Temple Grandin, Susan Boyle, and Dan Aykroyd. They base their careers around their strongest passions and find success in doing so.
There are successful people with autism who have dedicated their lives and their careers to acknowledging their differences to the public and have therefore become an inspiration to others.
By learning to embrace their differences instead of letting them define them, people who have been diagnosed with autism have the power to achieve a greater impact on other people who are struggling with the same issues that we may be struggling with.
A former colleague of mine has a nephew who was diagnosed with autism. She gives her own personal definition of what she feels autism is, “I just know that it is very misunderstood and that there are many spectrums.”
She believes “that autism is not something to be ashamed of because it can bring out the best qualities in us, and yes, at times I feel we may be misunderstood. I find that sometimes, even if I have achieved a lot, people only acknowledge me for my flaws and my differences instead of acknowledging the achievements I have made.”
Through my writing, I am learning the best ways to overcome my differences and believe that the differences are what make me stronger.
However, I feel that as long as the media and the public continue to negatively view autism, it will be that much harder to achieve a brighter future for those who are diagnosed.

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Embrace the Differences: View Autism in a new light