Thursday, April 24, 2008

Electronic Soap Box: Autism Awareness

Autism awareness month sparks charity walks, puzzle piece wearing, and a sense that people are coming together behind an important cause. My college created a few events to raise awareness about Autism on a campus otherwise preoccupied with global warming, organic foods, the arts, and hipster apathy. I attended in the company of mostly graduate students and adults to listen to a five person panel led by one of my professors on the subject.

As you might have been able to tell at this point, I have have a small background in working with Autism and very vocal opinions on who should represent education and awareness and how. I am by no means an expert, but an avid learner of theory and observer of cultural representations and awareness.

Awareness, that's the word. I think I expected more people to come to the lecture. It was by no means empty, but the small lecture hall definitely had seats open. I took pages and pages of notes on what people said, and I would consider myself fairly informed on the subject compared to some of my campus. How do you make a cause, a disease, an epidemic trendy? How do you invoke the voices of celebrities, the oh so important twenty somethings, and the people with real power? Celebrities have started to take up the cause, and as much as I cringe when a celebrity talks about what the cause of Autism is, I know that at least people are starting to learn, starting to take hold of why we need to know more about it. Autism has started its infiltration of the celebrity voice and the media, but until people start wearing puzzle pieces as much as they wear various colors of ribbons, the job is not done.

I wish I was an expert. I wish I could stand on a soap box with charts and diagrams pointing out reasons A, B, and C that Autism needs to be at the forefront of research, but I am not. As I slowly make the transition soon into the world of education perhaps I can stand on something, my diploma, my job contract, or even a telephone book and tell the world what I think needs to change. Until then I blog, I stand upon my a little electronic soap box and hope to spread the word.

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