I came to grips a long time ago with the fact that not everyone at our local school board understands autism. After all, we had to jump through so many hoops for Kaitlyn that I am comfortable saying that very few people there understand it. I am not ok with it, but I have come to understanding with that particular fact. Autism is the “mystery” or “invisible” disability.
A lot of people do not understand or recognize autism because it rarely is very noticeable. Because of that, individuals with autism are often forgotten about or excluded from inclusion when it comes to awareness or accommodation.
But of all people, places, or companies, I expected more out of Disney. I rarely, if ever, click on links that I see on Twitter. Maybe it is out of laziness, or maybe it is because a lot of what is written is written by people like me, and is often from a place of hurt, fear, or misunderstanding. But there was something about that particular link that just made me click it.
I am happy, but also not happy that I clicked it. You can read for yourself by clicking here.
To sum up a well-written entry, the mother that wrote the blog has a son with autism. She knew from past experience that they would be able to get a pass that would allow them to bypass some lines and ride rides quicker. Since a lot of autistics get squirmy in crowds and can approach major meltdown status in lines rather quick, it makes sense. (Kaitlyn qualifies for both the squirmy and potential meltdown). They acquired the pass, but were turned away at not one ride, but at four different rides by cast members that seemed like they could care less that they had the pass. Maybe they thought it was a fake pass because autism is not as obvious as so many other disabilities. Whatever their reason, it was deplorable behavior, and, at least to me, is representative of how the Disney company feels about autism and those with autism spectrum disorders. Thus, this is how they view Kaitlyn, in my opinion.
This part of the blog bothered me as much as the rest, if not more, because of how true it rings:
Receiving a disabled pass at Disney is of less concern to me than how my son and his fellow autistics are perceived and treated, and not just by Disney. Disney symbolizes the general population’s and business world’s view. If Disney, the company that sets the bar for how disabled persons are treated, prioritizes physical disabilities and treats non-apparent disabilities with distrust, then imagine how worse other places will treat them. If a member of the general population at Disney shouts at an autistic child for going through the disabled entrance at an amusement park, where everyone will ride as many rides as they want all day long in a pleasant, stress-free environment, imagine how they will treat an autistic when they feel threatened by a perceived loss of income, job position, taxes, or services.
The truth is that the general population would rather remain ignorant about autism. It is easier to stereotype autistics based off of Rain Man than it is to sit in front of a computer for ten minutes and do even the most cursory of searches to educate themselves. People say that ignorance is bliss, but I think that ignorance is an excuse to be lazy.