Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Don't jump the gun here by reading this title. This isn't another case of burnout or me getting tired of what I am doing. Quite the contrary really and here's why. What's my job title? Autism Ambassador. What do I do? I do everything I can to raise the awareness and understanding of the autism spectrum. Why do I do this? Because there is a need. When there is no need my job position will cease to exist and that should be my goal, and it is.
When every school teacher has not only the awareness, but the understanding of the autism spectrum the schooling experience for those on the spectrum will be better. Almost every presentation I do I hear of a horror story of a school simply not understanding the quirks of Asperger Syndrome and what should just be a mild issue escalates into a catastrophic episode. My heart breaks each and every time I hear this even though I've heard it hundreds of times, but the reason why my heart breaks is that it quite simply, and purely, should not happen. Let me say that again; IT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. The training is out there, the resources are out there. Sometimes I hear something like this, "Well, us teachers, we can't redesign the wheel!" and I understand, in a way, where they are coming from. The autism spectrum is a vast, mysterious place but we aren't asking you to redesign the wheel; sometimes just a little bit of awareness and understanding of the situation is needed and when all teachers know this my job will be done.
When every parent understands their child with autism the process of growing up will be a much smoother process. I'm not going to lie and say that I think raising a child with autism is an easy task; it's not, and many of the parents I've met have some of the strongest souls and wills I have ever met. It all starts with understanding though. With no understanding every behavior may be taken as some act of defiance when it might not be the case. Constantly having those small battles may make fighting the real battles an unwinnable challenge. Someday in the far future when all parents have all the tools, resources, and understanding my line of work will be outdated.
When the general public can state what the autism spectrum is when as asked and has compassion for it all those on the spectrum can breathe easier in public without fear of being looked down upon. It doesn't take a major episode in public to ruin a day, week, perhaps month of maybe even an event that will last a lifetime. One time, at a video game store, the two clerks were talking too much and too fast and I was bombarded with too much info too fast and I couldn't make sense of the situation. As I left the store one of them told the other, "Wow, was that guy slow or just stupid?" It took years for me to move on from this. In certain situations I am what I am and can't help it. It's hard enough going through life as is but the last thing we need is a general public who is ignorant of the autism spectrum and makes harsh judgments. In their minds, if I were slow or such, those words won't mean anything, but contrary to what some people (I have met some of these "some people) think autism means there is no level of intellect at all. Again, this is a thing that couldn't be farther from the truth. Some on the spectrum may have no ability to communicate, but they are listening and they are aware of those words and, once again, there is no reason why a person should go through this!
So, can you see why my goal is unemployment? When there is full acceptance and a full level of awareness others won't have to endure the leering eye of the public or experience a disaster at school. I'm afraid we are more years than I'll be alive before we'll achieve this, but maybe I'm wrong. After all, it's my dream because if we achieve this the lives of us all, spectrum or not, will be much better.