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The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School

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Autism Isn’t a Joke, Get Over Yourselves

Autism+Isn%E2%80%99t+a+Joke%2C+Get+Over+Yourselves

The autistic experience is just as valuable as anyone else’s. Photo courtesy of senior Karl Karsh.

(Trigger Warning for suicide)

  Students and staff at San Luis Obispo High School are all aware of the diagnosis Autism Spectrum Disorder, also commonly referred to as Autism or ASD. 

  Though there is a recognition of the diagnosis, not many people are actually aware of what having Autism means. This is a problem.

  I don’t owe anyone an extensive description of my experience growing up autistic, and quite frankly, I don’t think I’ll ever tell anyone about it in depth. Anyone who does share their autistic experience within society is so unbelievably brave, and I look up to every one of them.

  The Autism Spectrum is not linear. Think of the spectrum as a color wheel of sorts.

  There are various categories depicting the different ways someone who is autistic functions. These categories include but aren’t limited to motor skills and coordination, sensory processing, executive functions, language and communication, and perception. 

  Autism is incredibly unique and symptoms differ depending on the person. Often, someone who is autistic will try to mask their symptoms, which, after many years, leads to extreme burnout.

  Within the autistic community, we are trying to eliminate the shame that comes with being neurodivergent. 

  This shame is built over years and years of torment from the society we live in, and unfortunately, we’ll never be able to escape it. Being autistic means there’s a high chance of struggling to communicate and interact with others or communicate thoughts or emotions.

  As a community, we are often immersed within our hyperfixations. To get away from society and its expectations for a while, indulging in different media, art forms, books, etc., helps us regulate our emotions.

  It has become a joke to others when an autistic person is hyper fixated on something. Actually, it’s a joke to others when an autistic person does literally anything, whether it’s abnormal or not, but this is a specific example that is exceptionally harmful.

  Using autistic behaviors around the things we love as a source of amusement is so unbelievably cruel. But making fun of us, participating in cringe culture, is normalized, and it’s a source of entertainment to a lot of people.

   It’s deeper than the hurt that comes with being called cringe or stupid.

  As Opinion editor of “The Campus” Sydney Emerson writes, “cringe culture comes at the cost of our humanity.”

  The ignorance and stigma around ASD is “just a joke,” right?

  It’s “just a joke” that the second leading cause of death for autistic people is suicide.

  It’s “not a big deal” that children, who don’t feel a sense of belonging and are using hyperfixations to escape, are being made fun of. It’s “funny” that children who are autistic are 28x more likely to think about or attempt suicide.

  The autistic community needs to “lighten up,” but 66 percent of autistic adults have thought about taking their own life, and 35 percent have tried to. 

  Autistic people make up approximately one percent of the population, but 11 percent of suicides. Think about that for a second.

  Almost 80 percent of adults and 70 percent of children with ASD will experience a mental health difficulty. 

  These statistics show that it’s our society as a whole and the way that the world is built that is the problem. It always has been.

  However, the jokes being made at the expense of someone who’s autistic are part of the reason we’re becoming so isolated and hopeless. Everyone can make a difference by just thinking before saying something.

  Treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s really that simple.

Sources: autistica.org.uk, iep.utm.edu, psychiatry.org, medicine.uiowa.edu, alleghenycampus.com, cam.ac.uk

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Karl Karsh, Opinion Editor

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