Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023

The Top 5 Pieces of Autism News for Winter 2021

No one is denying that last year was a bit of a dud (I’m sure you don’t need reminding why). However, when it came to the autism community, last year wasn’t just a swing and a miss but a miss so hard that it swung around and hit us in the face. Understandably, this left many looking to the future and wondering what’s to come. But, now the future is here, how does it hold up?

This is the question I will be answering in today’s Winter autism news roundup, a quarterly post where you will find links to all the biggest news items from the months that were (as well as some speculatory opinions of what they may mean).

Honourable Mentions:

Sir Simon Baron Coen

Woah woah, hold your horses. Why are you in such a hurry to get to the top 5 news pieces, when there are so many more highlights from the time since we officially entered 2021? Alright, I can see that you now realise everything you almost missed. So, let’s quickly take a detour into the slow lane to look at this season’s honourable mentions:

  • There are no autism-specific genes, just brain genes
  • A newly discovered mistake in the autism guidelines may have resulted in many missed diagnoses
  • Mental health issues now affect 3 in 4 children on the spectrum
  • Autism researcher Simon Baron Coen knighted
  • New virtual autism diagnosis tools assessed
  • The Ohio Medical Board considers adding autism to the list of conditions approved for medical marijuana (for the third year in a row)
  • The White House pledges to prioritize people with disabilities in pandemic recovery

5. CDC Report A Nearly Identical Autism Rate Across All Ethnicities.

Autistic children playing together

Starting off with probably the largest unsung success of this season, in early March it was announced that, for the first time ever, the CDC had reported a nearly identical prevalence of autism in black and white children. Unquestionably this serves as a huge milestone for our community and it is something that is made all the more praiseworthy when you consider that, not 12 months ago, studies found that most autism diagnoses had an inherent bias against non-white groups.

Of course, not everything is as perfect as it seems here as, while it does show that generations to come are going to have a fairer chance of receiving their diagnosis (regardless of their race), it does highlight just how far behind adult diagnosis is from that which is aimed at a younger generation, wherein, gender, age and especially ethnicity still play a huge role in whether you are going to get an accurate response or whether you are going to be ignored as a terms and conditions page.

Unfortunately, many of these points were left out of this news when it eventually dropped, with the larger finding of a new 1 in 57 autism prevalence taking centre stage. Yet, given how this national figure is likely to change again, whilst racial equality looks to be here to stay, I have chosen to focus on the latter today – if you do want to know more about autism prevalence around the world though, please click here).

4. How Does Autism Impact on the Chances of Getting Vaccinated?

The Covid Vaccine

Although we are far from in the clear when it comes to our war on covid, the human race certainly took one step closer to victory this year, when the all important vaccines were rolled out. For many, these remedies seemed like the solution to leaving lockdown and returning to normality and, subsequently, they became highly sought after (unless you are one of those wierdos who thinks that Bill Gates is using them to microchip people).

Nevertheless, for many in the autism community, this put us in a confusing state during an already confusing time as, after years of being told we were ‘disabled’ many of us found that we weren’t ‘disabled enough to be put on a priority list for the vaccine.

Now, it should be noted that this isn’t all bad, as it has been explained countless times that autism doesn’t impact your chances of catching the virus (or suffering from it any worse than those of a similar demographic). Yet, it doesn’t consider the fact many conditions associated with being on the spectrum do create higher risks.

As a result of this (and lots of campaigning from lots of charities), many countries have since changed their views on when autistic people and our support networks can have access to the many Covid vaccines. So, if you are one of the ones originally let down, try searching again to see if things have updated near you.

Whilst usually I would take this opportunity to create links to where to search, the instructions following covid are changing so frequently that I fear I may accidentally include something which becomes outdated the second I post this post. As such, please use only official websites when looking for vaccine updates and consider contacting your local autism charities.

3. Covid-19 listed as Cause of Death for 6 in 10 People with Learning Disabilities

An autistic woman looking at a wall of empty masks

Despite autism not being a direct cause for the worsening of Covid’s effects, in February the autism community was dealt a heavy blow when Mencap published its finding that Eight in 10 deaths of people with a learning disability in the UK are currently COVID related – a figure which is 6 times higher than those without any learning difficulties.

The reason for why this figure is so large is currently being investigated. However, many believe that it is not solely due to genetic makeup but the living conditions and opportunities that many with disabilities are subject to – in particular, those who are living in care homes or other communal establishments.

With that said, it is hard to find an exact percentage breakdown of what learning difficulties, disabilities and neurodiversity make up these statistics, so the exact rate of how being autistic impacts on the mortality rate is yet to be known. Yet, if there’s one thing that is clear from these findings, it’s that there must be an enquiry into why 2/3s of all Covid deaths are disabled people and how we let this happen.

2. Government Proposal to Change Mental Health Law

UK parliament where they will discuss autism's place in the mental health act

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, autism is not a mental health issue. In fact, thinking this way isn’t just damaging to perceptions of autism from the public but it can also lead to incorrect treatment such as involuntary sectioning under the Mental Health Act… or at least it could.

Yes, this is the news that, after years of campaigning, UK lawmakers are set to remove autism from being targeted by the current Mental Health Act; a small step that will lead to the long-overdue ending of the sectioning scandal and a big leap in changing the way we think about autism moving forward.

What happens next is still murky, as these kinds of changes rarely happen in one big sweep. However, the next step is creating a White Paper that can be shared in parliament to push this decision further. Opportunities to find out how to get involved in this can currently be found on the National Autistic Society website, somewhere you can also find out more news on the momentous movement.

1. Sia Releases Worst Autism Film Since, Well, Ever

A poster for the autism-centric film Music

I’m not one to flog a dead horse and, similarly, I’m usually all about the positive. However, it’s unquestionable that when we look back at the most talked about moments from Winter 2021, thE number 1 was the abomination that was Music – an autism centric directorial debut movie from singer/songwriter Sia.

Now, it’s hard to pin down what exactly went wrong for this movie (other than everything). However, there is certainly something to say about the spectacular fashion in which it tumbled and failed. Critics touted it as the “‘live laugh laugh’ sign of filmmaking” in which an autism centric plot was paraded as inspiration (without actually explaining why it should inspire). While audiences found the depiction of autism all but discriminatory, as the mannerism in which the portrayal took place was little better than that of a schoolyard bully.

In summary, Music could not have missed the mark more when it aimed at being ‘a love letter to the autism community’, as it now serves more as a message to all future depictions that, when it comes to creating autistic narratives, try to have at least one autistic person involved – and, for the love of God, listen to the community you are trying to represent.

Carry on the Conversation:

As always, I can also be found on Twitter @AutismRevised, on Instagram @autisticandunapologetic and via my email: [email protected].

If you like what you have seen on the site today, then show your support by liking the Autistic & Unapologetic Facebook page. Also, don’t forget to sign up to the Autistic & Unapologetic newsletter (found on the sidebar on laptops and underneath if you are reading this via mobile) where I share weekly updates as well as a fascinating fact I have found throughout the week.

Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.

The post The Top 5 Pieces of Autism News for Winter 2021 appeared first on Autistic & Unapologetic.


By: James Sinclair
Title: The Top 5 Pieces of Autism News for Winter 2021
Sourced From: autisticandunapologetic.com/2021/03/31/the-top-5-pieces-of-autism-news-for-winter-2021/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-top-5-pieces-of-autism-news-for-winter-2021
Published Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2021 16:42:20 +0000

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