Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Faces of Autism on World Autism Awareness Day
I do not hide my contempt for CNN's coverage of autism issues. CNN's coverage is, at best light and fluffy feel good stuff with little influence in the discussion of autism issues by people trying to actually help the many children and adults with autism disorders. At worst CNN coverage misrepresents the nature of autism and autism interventions. But there is some good media coverage of autism available. For World Autism Awareness Day I personally recommend that anyone interested in getting a realistic picture of autism try reading the Vancouver Sun's outstanding six part series Faces of Autism by columnist Pete McMartin with photos by Glenn Baglo.
Faces of Autism provides gritty, coverage of persons with autism, their life prospects and the impact that autism has on many families. The photos by Glenn Baglo are an honest portrayal of autism, particularly those of autistic 14-year-old Kristi Jansen who swings from crying to laughing to screaming in a matter of seconds. Kristi lived at home at the time of the series publication in April 2007. "Her body, home and family members -- especially her mother -- bear the scars of her violent outbursts that have only been calmed through years of expensive therapy."
Glenn Baglo's pictures of Kristi are very moving and strike a realistic chord for me as the father of a severely autistic 12 year old. She is shown smiling, laughing, crying and screaming. But she is never presented as the only face of autism. Faces of Autism emphasizes the range of autism realities. It is respectful, responsible and well informed coverage of autism and well worthing reading on World Autism Awareness Day - or any day.