Archive | March, 2013

1 in 50

21 Mar

Yep, you heard right. The CDC announced yesterday it’s new findings that show 1 in 50 school-age children have autism.

Naturally, articles instantly popped up about how this doesn’t really mean anything, the numbers are the same as they’ve always been. We’re just more “aware”. This article was my favorite: (<— sarcasm)

“You will probably see a lot of headlines about the 1 in 50. Some organizations might even try to use those numbers to scare people, to talk about an “epidemic” or a “tsunami.” But if you look at the numbers and the report itself, you’ll see that overall, the numbers of people born with autism aren’t necessarily increasing dramatically. It’s just that we’re getting better and better at counting them.”- Forbes.com

“We’re betting better and better at counting them”…??? Seriously!?

Are we as a society more “aware”. Of course. Are there probably some percentage of kids who are misdiagnosed and don’t actually have autism? Sure, the same is true of ANY diagnosis. But does that account for the ever-increasing autistic population? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

People LOVE to deny an increase and tell us we’re overreacting to these numbers. If the numbers aren’t increasing…prove it. Show me 1 in 50 sixty-year-old adults with autism.  You can’t! Because they don’t exist!

THAT is the research I’d love to see. If people are so sure that we’re just getting better at recognizing autism, then let’s look at the adults around us and see how many of them currently qualify for an autism diagnosis. How many ADULTS (ages 30, 40, 50, 60+) have autism? Let’s compare those numbers to the numbers we see today.

And for those parents out there who say they agree with this Forbes article, and don’t think there’s a real increase in autism…ask yourself these 2 simple questions:

How many autistic kids do I know?  How many autistic adults (ages 30+) do I know?

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Autism Tattoos – Part 2

10 Mar

In January I did a post featuring reader submissions of autism tattoos (you can see that post here). My sister’s tattoo that she had done for our brother was my inspiration for that post. This is my sister and her tattoo…

Lyss

I decided to do a follow up “Part 2” and share more autism related tattoos after the amazing response I got for my original post. Once again, there was no shortage of family members and friends who had decorated their bodies with symbols of autism. And interestingly, this round there was a strong butterfly theme! Whether to promote awareness, spark conversation, or to serve as inspiration, motivation and a reminder, people show their love by their tattoos. Here they are… click to enlarge.

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Search Engine Nightmare- Part 2

3 Mar

After posting on Friday about the terrible issue with Googling about autism, an old high-school friend of mine who works for Google got in touch with me. He sent my blog to a co-worker in charge of the search predictions, who had this response:

“We are aware of the problem, and as you rightly noted, these predictions violate our policies on hate speech. We have a bug open to get rid of them – a solution should be live soon. Feel free to tell your friend that we’re aware of the problem and working to fix it.”

My friend went on to tell me,

“We (at Google) don’t like seeing this stuff any more than you do, and we wish it was easier to keep it off the site. It’s just a constant losing battle so things will always slip through. I’d be happy to continue championing the autism cleanup for you, though.”

So, I’d say that sounds pretty good. They know it’s happening. They agree it’s wrong. They’re going to fix it. And, I’ve been personally assured that at least 1 person out there at Google will fight this fight alongside the rest of us. I believe the only thing left to do (after fixing it of course) is for Google to publicly acknowledge what happened, and how they feel about it. I know the autism community would appreciate the support. I look forward to progress being made here.

In other news…I decided to try my luck with 2 of the other largest search engine sites. Here’s what I found on Yahoo!:

Yahoo1

Besides the shocking “demon possessed” suggestion, and a couple of other hurtful results, the rest were FAR less violent  than what I found on Google. Then, I was impressed when I saw these:

Yahoo2

It appears Yahoo! has put something into place to block any suggestions from coming up when you search “need” or “should” in relation to autistic people. Good for them! And I was pleased to see the positive choices that come up when searching about autistic people. So besides a few that still slipped through (which I hope Yahoo! will address and delete), Yahoo! offered significantly more positive options, and significantly less hateful ones.

Next, I tried Bing. Here’s what I found:

Bing1

Ugh. Several suggestions of death, danger, and evil. Not good!!

Bing2

Okay…now we’re getting somewhere. Still mixed results, but at least I’m seeing some positive ideas like “smart” and “superior souls”…

Bing3

Ah-hah….just like Yahoo!  it appears Bing has blocked any results from popping up for a couple of those phrases. Good effort! Unfortunately, although they’ve safe-guarded “autistic kids should”, searching “autistic people should” still resulted in a death suggestion. So, they’ve still got work to do! Bing certainly needs to clean up some of the suggestions they offer up regarding autism.

Overall, Yahoo! seemed to offer the least damaging results when searching about autism. In comparison to Google, their results were significantly less inflammatory. Google remains the most saturated with hateful suggestions. And Bing seems to be in the middle, offering both very negative and some positive results.

My take-away- The fact that these search engines are displaying disturbing content in regards to autism boils down to the simple fact that THOSE are the most common searches conducted. The search engines need to take responsibility for what they are allowing on their websites, and should be actively working to eliminate the hatred they are promoting. But the bigger picture is not about a website that automatically offers popular searches…. it’s that the most popular searches about autism are hateful, violent, and just plain evil. It’s that the world at large still has dangerous attitudes and beliefs about people with ASD.

I cannot wrap my head around what would possess someone to sit at their computer and type that any people group should “die” or “be killed”.  I’m baffled at why ANYONE would say those things, much less why A TON of people would say those things.

It’s depressing that with all the knowledge out there that people are still so uninformed and so aggressive towards people with autism. How could people out there think these horrible things about people like my little brother? I don’t understand.

All I can hope is that once these search engines have fully erased all the hateful suggestions, people will start seeing positive things pop-up about autism. And, maybe…just maybe…that exposure will change people’s minds. Beyond that, we in the autism community can continue to do our best to promote acceptance and understanding, letting our patience and love be an example to others.

We live in such a sad and broken world….

Search Engine Nightmare

1 Mar

Some of you may have already heard about this…

I read an article today stating that Google’s “auto-complete” feature (which gives you suggestions as you type to help finish your sentences, based on the most popular searches) is working to get rid of hateful suggestions for autism related searches. Apparently when Googling about autism, some horrible things would come up. I had no idea. The article I saw said Google would fix this issue. Phew! But, I decided to Google various autism related word combinations and see what suggestions would appear….Just in case….

And unfortunately, I can say with 100% certainty, that Google has NOT resolved this issue yet. This is what I found when I searched…

***Disclaimer*** Please be advised: The language and suggestions below are disgusting.

Google1

 

And just when I thought it couldn’t get worse…

 

Google2

 

So… who’s to blame? Google??? Well… partially. There are certain phrases that just shouldn’t pop up when you’re searching something. They should take responsibility for what they are actually “suggesting” that people search. But how do they even come up with these suggestions? They’re based on the most popular searches! So who else is to blame?? Whoever is searching these phrases!

Is this real? Do people really type these things into their browsers? Who is searching these things? What are they trying to find online by typing these things? I don’t understand.

But, I guarantee that these “suggestions” popping up when people are searching OTHER autism related phrases is only helping to perpetuate the myths and fears and misconceptions. Heck, if I Googled a disorder I knew nothing about and the first things that came up were “violent”, “evil”, “dangerous”, “retarded”, “rude” and “should die”…I’d be freaked out!!! I’d be pretty afraid and I’d want to keep my distance!

So…my guess is, by Google offering up these choices for people to select from when they’re typing about autism, people end up clicking on those options, even if that’s not what they intended to search for originally. Therein lie the issue. People clicking on these suggestions (because they’re what pops up) likely contributes to making those phrases the “most searched”. Thus, they keep showing up as suggestions. It’s a terrible cycle!

So…short of every person who is outraged by this Googling POSITIVE autism related phrases in an attempt to make those the most searched terms… what can be done?

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