Saturday, April 13, 2024

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Editorial Contest 2023: Autism, ADHD, and combatting ableism

Returning to an editorial contest The Lansing Journal started last year, we partnered with the freshman class at Unity Christian Academy. Every first-year student wrote an editorial about something they care about, and submitted them to The Lansing Journal. Publisher Melanie Jongsma and Managing Editor Josh Bootsma read the editorials and picked three winners based on criteria including: making a claim, persuasion and analysis, evidence, local impact, and language and voice. Invitations to participate were also sent to TF South English faculty, and no editorials were submitted.


By Caleb Alderson
Caleb Alderson is a freshman at Unity Christian Academy. (Photo provided)

When you hear the word ableism you might be thinking “What is ableism?” or “I’ve never
heard that word before.”

You probably haven’t heard the word because it’s not talked about often. Furthermore, ableist language is used in everyday language such as calling someone bipolar, calling someone crazy, or calling someone retarded.

Ableism is discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.

Ableism is often overlooked in society because people view non-disabled people as ideal, which explains why many disabilities such as autism and ADHD are often overlooked in society because they may seem strange and uncomfortable to discuss.

Despite them being uncomfortable, we should still discuss them. God created people the way they are, meaning they are wonderful humans with emotions and truly do matter.

Let’s discuss what these disabilities are to understand more about how people with these disabilities are interesting people — similar to how there are interesting characters in stories.

Autism stereotypes are often not reality

What is autism?

According to Oxford Languages, “autism is a neurodevelopmental condition of variable severity with lifelong effects that can be recognized from early childhood, chiefly, and can be characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thoughts and behavior.”

According to IntegrityInc.org, which is a non-profit organization that was licensed in 1989 by the Division of Developmental Disability Services of the Department of Human Services, “The different types of autism are the following: Asperger’s Syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Kanner’s Syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified.”

Some autistic people are high-functioning, meaning they behave as if they are completely neurotypical. There are also some autistic people who aren’t as high-functioning as others.

According to The National Library of Medicine’s website, “Representations may contribute to negative views of autistic people as being unusual or dangerous.”

Some autism symptoms are the following: avoidance of, or not keeping eye contact, repetition of words or phrases (echolalia), hand flapping, and others.

According to KennedyKrieger.org, an institution that aims to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities and brain disorders, “People across the globe view autism as a cause of disappointment, annoyance, shame, or worse.”

According to some researchers, “Stigma may keep families from looking for a diagnosis and services for their children.”

In my experience with autism, I hear people assume all autistic people are the same, which isn’t accurate because I have unnoticeable autism. I’m happy that I’m autistic and that God created me this way. If I had a choice between a life without having autism and a life with autism, I would always choose a life with autism.

ADHD

Finally, what is ADHD?

The term is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Imagine moving on a rollercoaster but instead the motion is never-ending. According to Oxford Languages, “ADHD is a mental condition, beginning in childhood and often persisting into later life, that is characterized by persistent difficulty in maintaining attention and concentration, and is frequently accompanied by hyperactive and impulsive behavior.”

According to Hopkinsmedicine.org, “There are three types of ADHD which are the following: primarily hyperactive and impulsive, primarily inattentive, and a combined type.”

There also is an ADHD spectrum similar to how there is an autism spectrum.

According to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, “A
stigma surrounding ADHD is that it isn’t real.”

Another stigma is “It only affects children, not adults.”

In fact, I know someone with ADHD and these stigmas are fallacious. This person has
unnoticeable ADHD. They don’t face ableism because of how high-functioning they are.

Avoid judgment, choose to love

It’s odious that we live in a world and communities that judge disabled people because of
circumstances out of their control.

In conclusion, people with autism and ADHD struggle in society because they are judged
by the stereotypical behavior that is expected. People with autism are ridiculed for their behavior. People with ADHD are ridiculed for not fitting in and for their behavior as well.

I have never been ridiculed for having autism, but I have seen an autistic person who has been ridiculed for their behavior and the sight was repugnant.

Imagine the agony people feel for being mocked in that way. That pain would be terrible, and we should strive for better.

Related

Other winners this year:

Read last year’s editorial contest winners:

The Lansing Journal
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The Lansing Journal publishes news releases from state, county, and local officials who provide information that impacts local community life. The particular contributor of each post is indicated in the byline.