Fanshawe College is passionate about awareness and acceptance for people in the Autism community. Although society has made great lengths when it comes to awareness of the Autism community, there is still further to go to end the stigma.
An estimated 100,000 Ontarians have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and with all the barriers in place it makes it difficult for those on the spectrum to find a place to live, work and contribute to society which according to Elsbith, an Autism program student at Fanshawe, it’s all they want to do.
Elsbith was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder at 14 and feels more can be done to give the autism community a sense of belonging.
” People need to recognize that words are very powerful. When they use words to talk about a disability they have to remember to speak positively and not to assume that someones life is less valuable or in some ways has more suffering, just because they couldn’t imagine themselves living that way”
Elsbith shares that the employment rate for those with Autism is 90%, which is scary for people in similar situations who are graduating and are preparing to enter the workforce.
“It’s important to know that the community welcomes us, and understands us because often times we end up on the fringes of society.
Autism Behavioural Science program coordinator, Julie Knights-Thompson says there are still misunderstandings about people with Autism and so students around Fanshawe are encouraged to look at a disability in a positive way, and to see the potential, as it is a positive gift. Knights-Thompson says a new approach needs to be taken in order to reduce the stigma.
“Ask questions to try and understand a little bit more, rather than staring at a family and wondering why a child may be acting in that certain way”
It is important for those in society to understand that everyone sees through a different lens and everyone does things different ways but although it may be different, it is not less.