The mainstream media, the blogosphere and Twitter are full of dreamy commentaries telling the world that autism is not really a disorder, it is a beautiful culture, a different way of thinking that is helping make the world a better place. Meanwhile parents of severely autistic children around the world know better as illustrated by this Australian family's story in the Fraser Coast Chronicle's The harsh reality of autism:
Christian's autism means he will probably never experience the beauty of friendships, will never feel the bonding love of a partner. His autism is so severe it keeps him from speaking. He has never said "I love you mum". And probably never will. He still wears a nappy, and might do for the rest of his life. He barely sleeps, eats only Vegemite scraped on white bread or salt and vinegar chips, and drinks only apple juice from a baby's bottle. One interesting aspect of his condition are his compulsive needs. He has a set of toy cars that are always assembled in the same order and in a straight line on the kitchen table. His brother sometimes messes them up to torment him. But brothers are like that.
Christian's condition demands routine and even then the smallest thing can lead to a "meltdown". He will bang his head on floors, against walls, whatever is near. The thing about a meltdown is they can happen anywhere - in a shopping centre, in the car on the way out the driveway, they can even happen at school. "You can't stop them," Tracey says. "They can last all day."