To obtain more awareness- is it ok to shock sometimes?

I just came across this article in the Brunei Times a few days ago about a relatively shocking awareness campaign in the USA for mental health problems in children including autism which uses the imagery of ransom notes saying autism has the child under captive.

Some autism mothers are obviously not very happy with the campaign because it gives the impression that autism has a criminal or “evil” element to it and is taking over the children as hostages, when in actual fact, well in my opinion at least, it’s never that bleak or tragic. Sure, it is an emotional roller coaster ride for parents to deal with autistic children, but never do we compare having an autistic child to something as terrible as our child being kidnapped. Unsurprisingly, these unhappy mothers have even started a petition to stop the campaign from continuing.

The proponents of the shocking ad campaigns however said that this is the only way we can get people’s attention to start them becoming more aware of what autism really is. I can understand this because sadly, it is human nature to be more initially attracted to or fascinated with something negative rather than the positive. I can also understand why a recent episode of Dr. Phil’s talk show only covered the lows of having an autistic child, so when people see how difficult and sometimes traumatic it is to take care of an autistic child, then perhaps people would sympathise or empathise enough to show more support in helping these autistic children. However, I do not feel this approach is fair for autistic children generally. Apart from the heartbreak and frustrations here and there, autistic children also bring so much contentment to their parents or caregivers. Us parents automatically become so involved in every aspect of our children’s lives that the self-fulfillment for being a parent is just naturally there for us. We never take anything for granted when it comes to autistic children as any achievement, even something as simple as saying “yes” to a question posed to them is worth having a celebratory dinner over.

What I have experienced in Brunei so far though, is that the only way you can reach out to another parent or person to be more aware of this disease, is ONLY if they themselves have an autistic child or they know someone else that has an autistic child. The other parents that I have spoken to unfortunately have given me the impression that: “if it’s not their problem, then they don’t need to know about it.

I also find some parents who get very uncomfortable when I talk about Raiyan and what he’s going through, like as if I’m telling the most depressing story in the world, when me as his parent, really do not feel that way at all. As I have mentioned earlier, there are many joyful sides to having an autistic child and never have we ever felt that getting the diagnosis was like a death sentence. And yet, whilst talking positively about what Raiyan is going through, all I get from my audience is an awkward silence which leads me to inevitably feel like I have dampened the mood or spoilt the party for everyone.

Therefore, in Brunei, to spread the awareness, I don’t think it makes much difference if you shock or not shock, to tell the positive sides or focus on the negative sides. I just feel like people will only take notice if it is something that they can relate to, and of course to do that, it has to be something that they are going through themselves.

The problem is, 1 in 150 children are diagnosed to be autistic in Brunei and SMARTER quoted that last year more than 50 were newly diagnosed. Overall statistics for the whole world have also shown that numbers have more than doubled in the last decade. So please, don’t even begin to think that this is not your problem. God forbid, (naudzubillah), I am not wishing autism on anybody. I am just being realistic. With the current rising rates, without a cure or lack of proper early intervention, pretty soon, almost all of us will at least KNOW someone autistic. And then you'd be wishing that you have taken more effort to learn about it more earlier.

We as parents of autistic children are not asking for you to take care of our children, or pay for their therapy. We just want you to listen to us with an OPEN mind and help spread the awareness on early intervention because you JUST NEVER KNOW WHO would be needing your help and direction with the knowledge you have.


PURPOSE:Hoping for more understanding and less judgment from all.

 To show the importances of early intervention and an evidence based treatment to help reach the full potential of the child.

 Offering other parents hope to have faith in the positive progress of their child.

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