In honor of #LightItUpBlue, I want to do my part to spread awareness AND acceptance towards individuals with Autism. I wish my featured image said “Autism Acceptance” instead of “Autism Awareness” but alas, I could not find an image that I could use for this blog. Autism awareness is increasing and that’s a good thing, but I hope we can start to steer the conversation towards acceptance as well. Autism Acceptance is about embracing individuals with Autism rather than finding ways to make them “not Autistic.” Check out this website for more information about what it means to have Autism Acceptance.
“So many people can’t understand that I have mind. All they see is a person who is not in control. But now you can hear me.” – Dillan
Not gonna lie…this video made me emotional and gave me chills. I was inspired by Dillan’s perseverance, saddened by his hardships and grateful to be part of a profession that helps individuals find their “voice” and communicate. Mostly, I felt so, so inspired by Dillan. I am also appreciative of Apple for their efforts to increase Autism awareness and acceptance with this campaign. Just to be clear- I am in no way affiliated with Apple and this post reflects my opinions as a practicing clinician.
I love that this video highlights the profound impact that technology has had on improving communication accessibility and efficiency for individuals with autism [and for many others with communication difficulties]. These videos highlight that just like anyone else, individuals with autism have a need to communicate and share their world with others.
Please keep in mind that many (probably most) children with autism will need intensive speech therapy to build up language skills and learn how to navigate a communication device (including iPad apps) before they can communicate as eloquently as Dillan. Actually, scratch that- most children who need a communication device (not just children with Autism) will need speech therapy to build up their language skills and learn how to navigate the device. Just because you put an iPad or any other communication device in front of child does not mean that they will know what to do with it, how to use it to get their needs/wants met, share ideas, and construct grammatically correct sentences with appropriate vocabulary. Children have to learn how to utilize this incredibly powerful communicative tool so that it’s not used solely for entertainment. Speech therapy is needed to accomplish these communicative goals, but look at how powerful it can be. Dillan’s story is one example of how speech therapy and technology can vastly improve the quality of life for individuals.
If you have concerns about your child or someone you love having autism please seek a professional opinion sooner rather than later. Children with Autism are capable of achieving amazing things with the help of a supportive and competent intervention team.