The unfortunate reality with autism is that most people know very little about it, which leads to those on the autism spectrum feeling unfairly judged and misunderstood.
There is a silver lining, however; organizations and groups are working worldwide to educate the public about autism in hopes of raising awareness for the disorder. Also helpful, there are inspiring celebrities on the spectrum who are beginning to change the perception of what it means to have autism.
Here are a few.
In 2009 Susan Boyle burst onto the scene with a surprising performance on Britain’s Got Talent. Her amazing talent as a vocalist has wowed audiences worldwide and has also brought the spotlight on her autism.
“Asperger’s doesn’t define me. It’s a condition that I have to live with and work through, but I feel more relaxed about myself.” she said in an interview. “People will have a greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do.”
James Durbin appeared on American Idol (Season 10) and has now released his first single “Parachute”. Durbin was first diagnosed at the age of 10 with Asperger syndrome and Tourette syndrome.
“Music is like medicine and can be a benefit for anyone no matter what genre…it’s all about focus and for me, not only on the autism spectrum but also the Tourette spectrum; focus was something I needed help with. Music is my focus.”
In 2013, as Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman became the first to compete in the Miss America pageant with autism.
“My path may not be one that another person would choose, but I challenged myself to enter the Miss America competition because it seemed like the peak to my own personal Everest,” she wrote for CNN in January. “It also seemed kind of ironic: a girl who was told she was different and considered an outcast by many, in the nation’s biggest beauty pageant.”
“I have read enough to know that there are still many parents, and yes, professionals too, who believe that ‘once autistic, always autistic.’ This dictum has meant sad and sorry lives for many children diagnosed, as I was in early life, as autistic. To these people, it is incomprehensible that the characteristics of autism can be modified and controlled. However, I feel strongly that I am living proof that they can.”
So we ask, who inspires you? What are you doing to help raise autism awareness?