World Autism Awareness Day: What Is The Autism Spectrum, And Who Shares It?

World Autism Awareness Day is here, a day set aside for people around the world to help understand a different kind of thinking. It has been called a lot of things in ignorance, such as a disease.

A disease is something which can be cured. There is no cure for autism, only understanding and the realization that those who have it are simply different, and possibly gifted.

Various celebrities, such as Jenny McCarthy and Denis Leary, have even gone on record with false conclusions which counter World Autism Awareness Day. McCarthy was known for saying that autism is caused by immunization. This is not the case, as it is something you are born with, not something you catch from a needle.

Denis Leary, also known as the comedian with the infamous music video where he boasts how he’s an “A**hole,” once stated that kids with autism are simply just “stupid or lazy.” The truth is that children with autism are being themselves, and they may not understand what “good behavior” is.

Autism is a different way of thinking, known as a disorder in brain development. It can reveal itself as a learning disability, and in repetitive behavior, as well as a general lack of understanding of boundaries. Children with autism may even have problems paying attention, and motor coordination can be impaired. One of the most common ways to determine autism is to pay attention to the eyes, as many with autism have trouble with eye contact. In these cases, the person with autism will look away as if something else is grabbing their attention.

It is important to understand, especially on World Autism Awareness Day, that people with this condition may still be paying attention, and simply have trouble maintaining eye contact. It is not a sign of disrespect, but a sign of discomfort.

Some today even believe that a special diet will cure autism. While it is true that autistic people may have digestive issues, the reality is that there is no cure. As stated above, autism is not a disease.

One of the most common misconceptions people with autism face, especially on the internet, is that autism is a form of retardation. Many of the most brilliant minds in history and in the entertainment industry either have or had autism, or may have.

Albert Einstein, most known for his theory of relativity, was ironically bad in math classes. He was also known to be antisocial, even nearly alienating his own wife. Einstein is one of many who may have had Asperger Syndrome, a fact to consider on World Autism Awareness Day.

Another possible great mind with autism is Tim Burton. His ex-wife Helena Bonham Carter once stated that she was researching autism and realized that Tim matched a lot of the criteria. Stanley Kubrick, known for his disturbing take on film-making, was known for his poor social skills, narrow and obsessive interests, literal thinking, and inflexibility.

This World Autism Awareness Day, we may also recognize Dan Aykroyd, one of the comedy greats, as having been professionally diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. He is obsessed with police and ghosts, and if you watch his brainchild known as Ghostbusters, you’ll notice he seems to have a problem with eye contact.

Susan Boyle, winner of Britain’s Got Talent, was suspected of having brain damage until her diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome. She is one of many exceptionally gifted people to keep in mind on World Autism Awareness Day.

Asperger Syndrome, also known as Aspergers, is a slight deviation from the autism spectrum. It usually reveals itself in individuals with a lack of social skills, but an almost genius level of understanding of very specific subjects.

There are also many levels on the autism spectrum, from the near-mute child who shouts things in public over and over, to the University Professor with social problems and an obsession with his or her subject of study.

This World Autism Awareness Day, we are encouraged to be aware of what isn’t necessarily a disability. In some, autism is a gift that hasn’t been given a chance to show itself.

[Feature image via Lightspring/]