A guest post by Jessica’s sister –
I am very proud to introduce Jessica’s sister, Hannah, and her first guest post. In reference to autism awareness and the need for services, Hannah shared something with me that I personally found very surprising. I asked her to please write a post to share her thoughts.
The other day, there was a story on NBC called “‘You Don’t Outgrow Autism’: What Happens When Help Ends at 21?”. Mom watched it and then showed it to me, saying something about how eerily similar it was to our lives.
And it was, extremely. They described the upcoming wave of autistic adults as a “hidden epidemic”. My mom chuckled a little, because to our family, it isn’t hidden. It’s something we are very much aware of, because we live it every day. But, it got me thinking.
Until my mom started the blog, I wasn’t aware of how many people there were with autism. According to the CDC, “About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder”. 1 in 68! To me, that seems like a lot more than I would have expected. Jess is the only autistic person I have ever known. I began thinking about school. I grew up aware of people with special needs, for obvious reasons. But I realized that in all the days of all the years I attended school in our county (K-12), not once do I recall seeing a special needs student in the hallway. Not once. Not at lunch, not between classes, not before or after school. Where were they? In high school, I had no idea where the special needs classrooms even were. It isn’t something that we were ever involved with or that we talked about during the average school day.
Of course, I can only speak for myself, but it is something I would have been aware of. Thinking back on it now, I realize there was definitely an absence, and to me that speaks volumes. I would have loved to have seen special needs students integrated into the school. I think it would be good for the average student, who may not be as aware because they don’t have a special needs person in their lives.
I think that, for the average every-day person, maybe it is a “hidden” epidemic. I think that the first step needs to be making it not hidden. I think it needs to start early, in schools, as well as communities in general. Then, perhaps, we can begin to make more and better progress.