The scene in the airplane last week involving the man with autism, has stuck with me. I keep wondering what the airlines would need to help them cope with situations such as the one we witnessed. Of course I am approaching this question with the assumption that they are interested in mitigating the damage and distress such a scene may cause, not only for the man with autism, but for the other passengers seated nearby, as well as the flight crew. At the very least – the airlines and all such companies who may come into contact with persons with autism should be educated enough to know how best to deal with most situations that might arise. Given the current rise in autism, it seems scenarios such as the one I described last week will occur with increasing frequency. At the very least, it does seem obvious that when a person with autism has requested a window seat they should be accommodated, just as someone who requires a wheelchair is given an aisle seat.
Why is it that neurological differences are treated any differently than physical? The answer is – for the most part neurological issues go unseen. We cannot see inside the person’s brain and so we make assumptions. Assumptions that the person has a psychological “problem” or are simply behaving badly because they are – poorly brought up or have emotional problems. We have words for people like this, most of them cannot be written without using a lot of keyboard symbols. We have little tolerance for those who seem to indulge their worst desires and allow themselves to act out on those selfish interests. But what of the people who, like the man we encountered last week, have autism? Do we not, as a society, have an obligation to these people?
For more on autism and my daughter, Emma’s journey through a childhood of it, go to: www.EmmasHopeBook.com