One of the Facebook supporters for the Ride Across Canada for Autism Spectrum Disorders is Jonathan Howard who knows a thing or two about crossing Canada for autism having done exactly that when he ran across Canada. I met Jonathan when he stopped in Fredericton and he is an outstanding young gentleman who has given much for others and will undoubtedly continue to be a major contributor, helping other people, for many years to come. I have no doubt that the forthcoming Ride for ASD's will make more people hear of autism as they did with Jonathan's run but what exactly will they learn about autism and what needs of persons with autism disorders will be brought closer to completion anywhere in Canada by this project?
My comments are not meant in anyway as a criticism. I commend organizer Scott Carpenter and I genuinely have a good feeling about this effort which has attracted strong support out of the gate. My comments are meant to ask what specifically will be said about autism disorders with this great effort? What will Canadians learn about autism realities beyond the feel good tripe routinely circulated in the mainstream media about autistic savants and autism successes stories exemplified by the incredible Temple Grandin?
The title of the project is a good start. I no longer believe that there is one single autism disorder. I believe that there are many different autism disorders. Still for the public to learn that autism is a disorder, or a number of disorders, is a very good start and will help break through the feel good nonsense of those who would tell us that autism is a joy and a blessing that we should embrace.
It will be important for the public to hear the whole truth about autism spectrum disorders. While there are indeed some very high functioning autistic persons who have been very successful and contributed much to society there are many persons with low functioning autism and intellectual disabilities some of whom injure themselves very seriously and some of who wander away never to be found alive. The public should know that there are many adults severely affected by autism disorders who spend their lives lonely and living in institutional facilities far removed from families. The public should know that right now, at this very instant, we are in dire need of funding for adult residential care and treatment facilities that will allow all adults with autism disorders to live a decent, happy life closer to family and community.
The public should know that, to date, only ABA enjoys a solid base of evidence in support of its effectiveness as an autism intervention that actually helps autistic children. This does not necessarily mean that other biological and dietary approaches do not actually help improve the conditions of autistic children. What it does mean is that the research to support their effectiveness is still lacking or disputed at this time. The public should know that research is needed to provide the evidential support for more autism interventions, to help us understand all causes of autism disorders genetic AND environmental as we search for more treatments and .... for the cures of autism disorder that do not presently exist.
The Ride Across Canada holds out considerable promise for raising autism awareness. I wish it every success and hope that the Ride generates awareness about the real challenges of autism disorders, the real needs that must be met and .... the focus on specific goals that must be met in order to actually get something done to help improve the lives of Canadians with autism disorders.
Good luck Scott and may fortune favor this worthy project.