How A Group of Parents Are Shining A Positive Light On Autism

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.



When it comes to autism, there are so many misconceptions and myths that need to be dispelled. I have learned to laugh some myths off. But mostly, I welcome questions. One of the reasons why I write is to share our experience to educate others. Because I want people to know what autism is and I especially want them to know what autism isn’t.

However the latest misconception about individuals with autism is nothing to be taken lightly. The idea that there is some link between premeditated violence and autism is not only false but it further perpetuates that autism is something to fear. To know that there are groups of people who believe that there is a connection is frightening. For our children to be vilified is heartbreaking. And for parents to be blamed for not ‘curing’ their kids autism is hurtful.

In a recent article by John Elder Robinson he writes, “There is nothing in the definition of Asperger’s or autism that would make a person think we are a violent group.  That’s reinforced by criminal justice studies telling us that people with autism are much less likely to commit violent crimes than the average person. Indeed, those studies show autistic people are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. 

While the percentage of people who believe there is a link between autism and violence is small, it’s enough for parents and advocates to come to the defense of autism. Or rather shining a light on the reality of autism.

Last Saturday when I woke up and checked my Facebook,  I noticed my feed was full of  friends (mostly autism parents) sharing all these beautiful photos of kids, teenagers, adults. All the photos had some kind of personal message about the person in the photo. All the photos were shared from a page called Autism Shines - a page created by autism parents.

In reading the messages, I was so moved. Not only by the messages on the photos but by the amount of shares, likes and comments of support. One mother showed the page to her son and he said, “I used to think I was the only autistic kid on earth. Then I realized there were others like me. I think there are some kids who don’t know they aren’t alone, but now they will know.”

In their effort to “show the world all the positive attributes of autism,” The Autism Shines Facebook Page welcomes anyone to “upload your photo of someone you love with autism, or yourself, and caption it with something great about them.”

When I uploaded my photo of Norrin, the page had about 200 ‘likes.’ By the end of the same day – it had a little more than 1500 and the number keeps growing (it’s close to 3000 now). This is the power of community. This is autism awareness at its best.

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