When the school for autistic children that our son attends came out with T-shirts, we snapped up three of them. Laura makes sure to put our son in one whenever we're out in public for an extended amount of time. The T-shirt functions as a kind of silent interpreter of our son's at times odd behavior.
It works. When we were at Busch Gardens in May Laura noticed a couple of teens looking askance at him for one reason or another, but the looks melted as they read the T-shirt. This indicates that there's a pretty broad awareness of autism among young folks and a desire to be tolerant rather than poke fun. The kids are alright!
Parents sometimes resist having their children diagnosed with a disability. Perhaps they think it reflects poorly on them. If this is the case, then these people should work a little harder on their own sense of personal identity.
Or perhaps they're worried that their child will be written off by teachers and the school system as incapable of succeeding. I think that this was more of a problem a generation ago than today.
Teens and adults who are diagnosed sometimes resist the label because they want to make it on their own without any special allowances for them. This is understandable and even admirable, but they wouldn't begrudge special allowances for people with asthma, so they shouldn't begrudge the same allowances for their own condition, whether it's for dyslexia, ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome or whatever.
A "label" such as "autism" doesn't permit or excuse anti-social behavior, but it signals the proper reasons for bad behavior as well as the proper strategies for coping with such behaviors. This is crucial if you want the behaviors to cease. To understand is not to excuse.
And in a very tangential way, I think that this has some bearing on the riots in Great Britain. The government over there will speak of nothing other than restoring order. Of course when people are leaping from burning buildings, it's no time to theorize about the root causes of social chaos. It's time for catching the falling, putting out the fires, and locking up the criminals.
But once that's done, some attempt to understand why this has happened is in order, especially if you want to prevent it from happening again. I have no idea if the label that finally gets afixed to this crisis will be "gang thuggery," or "the desperation of poverty," or "bad parenting," but a proper diagnosis will go a long way to ensuring the proper treatment.