As we bid farewell to 2012 and indeed, to the final year in which Asperger's Syndrome has any official status in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), I thought I might take a moment to recap some major Aspergers and Autism moments this year.
Please note, that these are my own observations and as such they're subject to interpretation. Hopefully I won't offend anyone here by naming or using logos.
This year, as usual, I reviewed several books on Autism. It's hard to pick a favourite but I'd guess that it would probably be; Loving Someone with Asperger's Syndrome by Cindy N Ariel. For me, that one hit pretty close to home. I also really enjoyed "A Lifetime of Laughing and Loving with Autism" Compiled by R. Wayne Gilpin because it was full of positive real-life stories.
In fact, I read so many great books on autism this year that I decided to start a Pinterest Board. Check it out here.
Another great compilation, called We've Been Here All Along: Autistics over 35 Speak Out in Poetry and Prose was released later in the year. I'm probably biased because I have a chapter in it but personally, I think this was the most influential book of the year. It said so much and it arrived precisely at a time when the autism community needed it the most.
The "beautiful moment in Autism" of the year belongs firmly to Jo Ashline who in February wrote a post telling Autism to "Suck it". It was immediately replied to with a small voice which said, "did you just say that Autistic people suck?" and the whole thing just snowballed from there. The beautiful moment came a few days later when Jo realised that there was a whole community out there who weren't there to fight with her, they were there to fight for her son. The autism community will never stop advocating for their own.
In May, one of my favourite advocates, Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg created a new site called Disability and Representation. Here, she not only provided some great and insightful articles but mostly single-handedly launched successful campaigns against several high profile people who dared to overstep the mark. It's perhaps a tad aggressive for my rather meek attitude but someone has to do it and clearly Rachel is the person for the job. Well done Rachel! Your actions certainly hit the mark in the real world this year.
The Autism and Scouting group had a great year too with perhaps the highlight being a boy with Autism receiving the BSA heroism award for being one of the two key people involved in saving a boy's life. A boy had become buried alive under 2.5 ft of sand and our hero with autism was able to locate the boys head by calculating the position. Well done! Also in the Autism and Scouting Group, there were lots of scouts with autism who received other awards. It's so inspiring.
Moving on from Autism and Scouting, the founders of that site, the awesome John and Karen Krejcha founded a new initiative; Autism Empowerment this year. They've been doing a lot of work, have taken Autism to the airwaves and they also have some pretty impressive presentations online.
Then there's Special-ism, an awesome site which was put together by Danette Schott and Tiffani Lawton. They seem to have succeeded in uniting a group of special needs writers in a way which results in some fantastic articles. There were so many great stories on the site that I really don't think I could pick out any one as being my favourite.
Finally, the year ended on a very sad note with the suggestion that the Sandy Hook murders were due to Autism. Fortunately, the community was on top of these remarks and various retractions were made and many broadcasters and newspapers made it very clear that there was no link between autism and homicide. It was also great to see Autism Speaks joining with Autism Advocates in what seemed to be the first time they agreed on something. I'm seeing this as a sign of hope and change.
All in all, it's been a very impressive and eventful year for the autism community and I look forward to seeing what 2013 will bring.
I'll be starting the new year off with an initiative aimed at putting the spot light back on the positives of autism and I hope that others will join me.