I'm going to be straight up with you, like always: this post isn't so much about Second Life. Now hold on a minute - before you throw your dummy in the dirt and storm off! - and trust me when I say that it is important. More important, really, than much else I write on these virtual pages.
There are a group of SL bloggers that, once a month, use their blogs to talk about some really important issues - real issues, that effect real lives, both physical and, by extension, virtual. I have written alongside them before, and now I have been asked to join them. There is absolutely no reason on this planet to say no; Kitti has a voice, so I am going to use it. So listen up, because I've got something to say (never mind that I quite often have something to say. Hush up).
Until I received the Concerned Bloggers Association information pack, what I knew about autism could fit into a thimble. To me, autism was connected to the MMR vaccination scare, and I remember the difficulty my Aunt went through when deciding whether to allow her children to have the vaccine all in one go, or each separate. I remember wondering if my whole generation were secretly autistic because we had received the vaccine in one go, and we just hadn't been discovered yet.
Well, we aren't, and according to the NHS website, the 1998 report that suggested that autism was related to MMR has been thrown out now. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that Autism has been thrown out, too, and it is estimated that there are over half a million people within the UK who suffer with it.
I don't think that, as a country, we are ignorant to such. We know that autism exists. I'm sure that Channel Four did some documentaries awhile back about an artist who drew the Houses of Parliament from memory having only looked at it for a minute, though Google isn't being very forthcoming on that. More recently, half the nation has been glued to the television for Sherlock, and it is arguable that title character is played as somebody with some form of autism.
I intensely, intensely dislike Sherlock - but that's another story. Whether I like it or not, these kind of pop culture references aren't enough. So let's be educated together, here:
- Autism is a hidden disease - you can't always tell if someone has it. It affects both children and adults, and there is no real standard set of symptoms/side-effects/difficulties.
- While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make a massive difference to somebody's life, and to the lives of their families. However, two-thirds of adults with autism in the UK do not have access to that 'right kind' of support, and because of that, one in three adults with autism experience severe mental health difficulties. Aren't they dealing with enough?
- Over forty percent of children with autism get bullied at school; one in five children with autism are excluded from school, and many more than once.
- Only fifteen percent of adults with autism are in full-time, paid employment; sixty-one percent of those out of work say they would like to work; fifty-one percent have no job and no access to benefits.
I realise that those statistics are a lot to take in, and that this is not the easiest of subjects. Not that I seem to make a habit of dealing with easy subjects here at IYDISL.
Is this the whole picture? Well no, it is not. But a little awareness can go a long way, and these things are worth bearing in mind when we are watching our strange little coalition government run around making up the rules and trying to get us to follow them.
If you would like to learn more, or check out my statistics, please do so: click here for the source of my stats, and here for the Concerned Bloggers Association, where you can find the posts of the other CBA bloggers.
Thanks for reading.
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