By :Stephanie Tihanyi
Autism, Shame & Society: An insider’s view
When I was a young teen, a close relative’s child died, leaving behind young sibling, who had just been diagnosed with autism. I remember my father saying, “It was sad, but it was sadder, the wrong one died”. He probably did not mean it, but the time I thought it was cruel and I sensed the shame. I did not know, I too was on the autism spectrum. This toxic shame permeates society, negatively impacting on the lives of autistic parents, children and adults, in ways far worse than their difference ever could. In an enlightened society, it shouldn’t be that way, but it is. It is through societal attitudes, those of us who are ADHD, dyslexic, or autistic, grow up, learning to feel shame for who we are. Society has perpetuated a culture of fear, shame, and pity around difference, often making it more of a disability than it needs to be. I believe this shame is intentionally and unintentionally manufactured, often by those who profess to care and that discrimination, against the differently abled, is becoming the major cause of injustice and civil rights issues of our time.
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