Shedding the Rain Man stigma…

Celebrities Helping Change the Mindset on Autism

Our daughter was diagnosed in 2006 with autism. At the time, I did not know a lot about the neurological disorder, in fact, I knew almost nothing. So, I started to learn. Unfortunately, not a whole lot of our friends or family knew a lot either. There were a lot of questions, and a common one was “so she is like Rain Man?” (From 1988, Raymond, portrayed by Dustin Hoffman, was one of the most recognizable character with autism.) Because she was diagnosed early(age 2) we had know idea what we would be dealing with.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 6.10.13 PMEight years later, we know a lot more. We also have a son with autism, both kids “on the spectrum,” in fact, on different ends. But, neither one is “Rain Man.”

Awareness and acceptance have come a long way. We have seen a shift in thinking with people in the media that have shed a new light on autism. Holly Robinson Peete, Toni Braxton, and Doug Flutie all have children on the spectrum. Temple Grandin, Darryl Hannah, and Dan Akroyd all have said they are on the spectrum. The characters of Hank, played by Ray Romano and Max, played by Max Burkholder on Parenthood have showed us individuals on the autism spectrum appear in our lives without us even knowing it.

Jerry Seinfeld sat down with Brian Williams and disclosed that he thinks that he is on the autism spectrum. WOW. What a positive role model, speaking out on something that affects 1 in 68 kids a day. He states “I’m very literal. When people talk to me and they use expressions, sometimes I don’t know what they’re saying. But I don’t see it as dysfunctional. I just think of it as an alternate mindset.”

An alternate mindset…I like that. The stereotypes on autism might be changing and hopefully with more and more awareness in the news, the next step will be acceptance. We can only hope.

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Autism Support Now is a Parent advisory blog and media site presented by "Ella's Hope for Autism" a 501c3 public charity in Missouri. This site is built for parents dealing with Autism . . . by parents dealing with Autism. Hope and Sam McPheeters (founders of Ella's Hope) have two children on the spectrum, and strive to provide continued advice for other parents, who are dealing with the same issues..