In this text, the United Nations discusses demographics of disabled people around the world and the effect modern day media has on them. Around the world, people with different disabilities, in various different places are discriminated against and suffer the consequences of a poorly integrated society. For us in Australia, we are lucky to live in a society in which disabled people are celebrated and supported, however this is not a luxury that many people have around the world. Particularly in developing countries, disabled people are subject to little support in a society that has not been developed to accompany their needs. However, in both developed and developing countries, "evidence suggests that persons with disabilities are disproportionately represented amongst the world's poor", leading to higher levels of poverty than their able-bodied counterparts. Currently, there are approximately one billion people with disabilities in the world, for many of which "economic and social exclusion is a part of the daily lives". The text discusses how modern day media effects the lives and perception of disabled around the world. The U.N states that people with disabilities are "seldom covered in the media" promoting acceptance and when they are, "are often negatively stereotyped and not appropriately represented". Subsequently, disabled people are treated as objects of pity and charity, as well as "superheroes", to inspire the non-disabled. Whilst this is still very much prevalent, media can be instrumental in raising awareness and bringing forth change by "counteracting stigmas and misinformation" and ultimately creating understanding on behalf of the wider population. By utilising the media's output of positive and educative information, it can be hugely successful in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as to "promoting their access to education, employment, health and other areas of development on an equal basis with others." Whilst disabled equality is far from where it should be, raising awareness leads to a better understanding, eventually creating a society in which the disabled are not only accepted, but allowed to flourish. This article was very much eye opening, as it not only taught me the hardships of disabled people around the world, but that we--able-bodied people--have the ability to make change against what it wrong. With this, the media has the greatest power to influence change and should do so accordingly. The rich diversity of our society inclusive of all its members–disabled or not–can help strengthen fundamental human rights and contribute to a better life for many.
In this video, Dan, who has Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, OCD and Dyslexia, goes over five key Asperger’s 'symptoms' and examples of behaviour that correlate to it. When I first built up my image of what a person with Asperger’s or Autism had--although it is sad to say--I initially thought it was just special abilities in certain areas and quiet, antisocial behaviour. However, I was very wrong. These disabilities are complex and multilayered and vary depending on each person. The first behaviour common to people on the Autistic spectrum is called ‘Stimming’, which is repetitive behaviour that people with Asperger’s do in order to calm down in stressful situations. Additionally, people with Asperger’s and Autism are hypersensitive, meaning their sensory inputs are somewhat different to those of a normal functioning person. Things like bright lights and loud sounds as well as textures of food can cause people with Asperger’s to process it far more sensitively than others. The third behaviour is 'zoning out' , in which they fixate on something in great detail and block out rest of world including verbal stimuli and other forms of communication. Dan also stated that he believes labelling people with Asperger’s as 'living in their own world' is derogatory as it does not comply with what actaully goes on as an individual with this condition. Instead, zoning out is caused by contemplation of minute details that others would likely not notice. Furthermore, the forth is Repetitive behaviour. This included people having strict routines and liking things in same places, eating the same food, reading same books over, as the repetitive patterns create a sense of safety and comfortability. As they can relate to doing these things, the familiarity of their actions makes them feel comfortable as they know they won't be put into a difficult situation which they would not know how to deal with. Finally, Dan describes the poor social skills that people with Asperger’s and autism have. This included being bad at small talk and not understanding when and when not to talk in groups, as well as unintentionally lacking filters in speech. In the novel 'The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-time', the protagonist Christopher displays many of these behaviours linked to autism spectrum disorders, such as keeping to repetitive behaviours and showing signs of uncomfortability when things stray from his norm. Accordingly, this video opened my eyes in many way regarding the characteristics of an Asperger’s or Autistic person. Firstly, it taught me that the behaviours linked to these disabilities are widespread and even vary in different people and secondly, it gave me insight into why these behaviours happen in these people, such as why they have trouble with loud noises and keep rigid schedules. Subsequently, the main thing to take out of this video is to understand the different behaviours and be aware of why they do it, so that you can be compassionate and helpful if ever around someone who has an autism spectrum disorder.
Curation: In this text, we learn about Trevor Pacelli, who was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at age 5. Pacelli talks extensively about growing up with autism as well as how he both struggled and succeeded in various aspects of his life. With this, Pacelli's story provides unparalleled insight into the first hand experiences of someone growing up with an autism spectrum disorder. For many people who share similar conditions to Pacelli, life is "full of enormous ups and downs" and requires incredible persistence to achieve goals. Percelli goes on by saying that he could have never done things like getting his driver’s licence, making friends, moving to a new home, starting college and writing a book without help from a support network around him. Furthermore, he says that he spent 90% of his childhood alone and still particularly struggled with finding and keeping valuable friendships. However, Percelli believes he makes progress on issues like these through the people he sees every day, including his parents, friends and school counsellors. He also raises the point that many people with high functioning forms of autism, try to avoid help from others, as it makes them feel segregated or very different from the latter. Percelli however, believes not being afraid to reach out for support and help was what got him through school successfully and allowed him to flourish into a better, more well-rounded person. This is parallel to Christopher in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time as we see Christopher mature and develop his understanding of the outside world, in a bildungsroman type narrative. Christopher goes through many ups and downs in this process and struggles to find a friends, as he cannot relate to the other children at his school, whom he perceives as "stupid". Although both Christopher and Percelli face similar complications in their daily lives, Travis has knowingly utilised his support in order to thrive in things that he would otherwise find very difficult. Essentially, while life will continue to bring forth challenges, be confident that you can face them along with a network of support, and put strategies in place to help you persevere and ultimately thrive no matter the size of the hurdle.
In the movie 'The Theory of Everything', we follow the life of the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. At the age of just 21, Hawking was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Motor neurons disease, and was told he had two years to live. To many, such news would be so devastating, it would be crippling. However, Hawking faced the condition he was suffering from and was determined not only to survive longer than expected, but also to excel in his beloved academic fields. When Hawking first got diagnosed, he asked about the disease's effects on the brain. He was told: "The brain isn't affected. Your thoughts won't change, it's... just that... Well, eventually, no one will know what they are". For Hawking, this realisation was both bitter sweet as his most precious asset; his mind was still capable of doing what he loved. However, it brought forth the daunting prospect of never being able to express his thoughts or discoveries with the rest of the world. With great wit, Hawking chose on ignoring the doctor's diminishing beliefs and continued with his life. Whilst he tried to ignore the symptoms and refuse assistance, he slowly realised that he faced many obstacles ahead. With all taken into account, he serves as a prime example in never giving up. Hawking continued to endure his degenerative disease and even through it all, he accomplished more than most people. Every once in a while you might find yourself trying to give up, but Hawking shows that setting your mind to a goal and going for it is what human nature is about. Hawking also famously stated “Concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.” This further envelops the idea that no matter what disability one may have, you must always take the positives out the situation and not be held back by things out of your control. Not only did he go against the odds on this front, Hawkings passed away in March this year at the age of 76. Accordingly, he exceeded his doctor’s life expectancy by 53 years and proved to be one of history's greatest examples of 'never give up'. This touching movie ultimately conveys the message that no matter what goes against you, be it disability or otherwise, perseverance and belief in yourself will create success.
In this text, we see a great example of someone pushing past barrier to achieve success. When Joshua was a young child, he says; "My parents were told by professionals that I would never learn how to read, write, go to school without assistance, or even talk." Now for many, as a parent or child, facing this news would be crippling. Being told that you would never live a normal life or experience things like the greater population, his life changed immediately. Eventually, stress caused Joshua's parents to divorce and resulted in him and his brother being raised solely by his mother. However, instead of giving up, Joshua broke all expectations--whilst being difficult--and began to read, write, speak and go to school. Not only this, but Joshua found a passion for acting "after understanding how easily (he could) remember lines" watching shows on television. Joshua later "graduated high school in 2011 and attended college" and subsequently followed his dreams in the theatre. In this text, we see Joshua face problems similar to those of Christopher, in the novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Both appear to be misfits in society and form a sole goal in going to university to study their respective interests. Furthermore, Joshua's statement: "Life has always been a challenge for me, and it still is; but I’m not giving up", truly epitomises the fact that for anyone--disabled or not--there are challenges that you will face and it is about how you go about them that matters. This statement also gives insight into a life of somebody with autism as it conveys the fact that many of the things that come naturally for us in our lives, are much harder to do for somone like Joshua. Ultimately, Joshua's story highlights the will to achieve beyond expectation, moreover in the face of adversity. Although Joshua was told he would never function like a normal person, he fought to integrate into society and excel. No matter what obstacles you face and the things people tell you, with determination and persistence, you can achieve.
This video gives the viewer a different perspective on the hardships of certain disabilities and the strength needed to succeed with what most perceive as handicaps. The man in the video, South African, Oscar Pistorius, was born with Fibular Hemimelia (congenital absence of the fibula) and had both his lower legs amputated at just 11 months old. Pistorius talks about the hardships he faced growing up and how he was never seen as equal to able-bodied people. Prior to the 2012 Olympics, Pistorius qualified to compete against able-bodied athletes, however, many believed his blades gave him an unfair advantage. Afterwards, Pistorius fought 'for the world's disabled population' against what he saw as discrimination, not just for the right for him to compete, but to raise awareness and ultimately show the world that the discrimination that had become so normalised in modern society, was not ok. Eventually, Pistorius was given the all clear to compete against his able-bodied counterparts and became one of only ten disabled athletes to compete in regular Olympics. Pistorius also raised many issues regarding the wider population's view of disabled people. Even I, myself can say I often view disabled people largely based on the disability they suffer from. Subsequently, I can now understand how this would frustrate those who are in this position, as one would be oblivious of the disabled person’s true identity, as we would not see past their condition. Pistorius went on to state: "when they (general population) see someone with a disability, they always focus on the disability, and that perception is something I want to kind of alter". Just because someone has a certain impairment, we as able-bodied people must not judge a person like this based on their disability, but instead on their personality and morals. This is parallel to Christopher in the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, as we see people judge him solely on his disability and face challenges in integrating into society although he has special talents. Like Pistorius, Christopher is very talented in a certain areas despite their individual disabilities. As Christopher states, "my memory is like a film" and "I think prime numbers are like life", conveying his talent and obsessive interest in maths. While Pistorius struggles to compete with able-bodied athletes, Christopher struggles to complete his A-level maths in a non-disabled test environment. Both face adversity, integrating into the wider society due to discouragement and segregation based on their disabilities. Ergo, we must not see disabled people for what they cannot do, but instead for what they can do.
This image, created by artist Leo Espinosa was incorporated in a 'New Yorker' article named 'Seeing the Spectrum - A history of Autism'. Espinosa utilised many different symbolic meanings to portray the characteristics of an autistic child. For people who have autism, certain things that happen daily which we would perceive as normal, are hard to digest and can cause significant anxiety. For them, sometimes people promise things and don’t deliver, sometimes it’s not clear whether the expression on a face is a smile or a sneer, or, if it is a smile, what it’s about. People say things that they don’t mean literally; they tell jokes and they use ironic expressions. People without autism accept all this as the norm in an imperfect world, and they get on with life as best they can. However people with disabilities like Autism, find these uncertainties intolerable. To cope, they construct repetitive behaviours and rigid schedules in order to feel organised and comfortable. To people with autism, other people’s minds are like a foreign country in which they're strangers, unsure where they are and what’s expected of them. Similarly, Christopher in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' exhibits this behaviour when he talks about not understanding human expressions and gets "Siobhan to draw lots of these faces and then write down next to them exactly what they meant". He then goes on to say that this is "how (he) know(s) to act in difficult situations when (he doesn't) know what to do". This gives us clear insight into how difficult it is for someone with autism to analyse seemingly normal behaviours and the amount of effort, one puts in to merely understand basic gestures. This is all symbolised within Espinosa's painting through the utilisation of scaffolding and miniature people in front of the young boy's face. The scaffolding in front of the featureless child's face represents the rigid structure of autistic person's mind, along with their structural, logical processes that cause them to struggle in reading other people's behaviour quickly. Additionally, the use of scaffolding can portray the large support network of people that help in allowing autistic people to integrate into wider population and ensure they are comfortable. For people who have autism, the scaffolding of support networks support them, much like construction scaffolding would do for a building. Additionally, many miniature people are seen around the sensory areas of the boy's featureless face, appearingly trying to get his attention. This further ties into the large support network needed to help autistic people perceive the world and other sensory information like vision, that would be so easily decoded for other people. As autistic people struggle to compute sensory information, the miniature people in front of his key sensory areas display the need for special helpers and individuals--such as Siobhan was for Christopher--to give them information on things they find hard to compute. Furthermore, the miniature figures are seemingly trying to get the boy's attention, especially due to the figures facing towards his face and some gesturing at him. This conveys behaviours common to people with autism, in which they zone out and are exceptionally hard to communicate with. This has been documented by many people close to those with autism, with mother's of autistic children saying that even they found it very hard to communicate with their children about a variety of concepts and topics and felt almost 'locked out'. The use of symbolism and imagery in Espinosa's artwork, gives people a deeper understanding of the aspects of autism that many do not see. For them, so many basic abilities that we take for granted every day are near impossible tasks that require assistance and most importantly, understanding on our behalf.
Paragraph: In this quote, we see how people with autism express themselves in contrasting ways to ourselves. In the text 'The Curious Incident of the dog in the night time', there is a young autistic protagonist named Christopher, who struggles to abide by the confines of the world as we know it and instead, has a largely freely wandering, mathematical mind. After getting into an incident in which he was found with a deceased dog and 'attacked' a police officer when they tried to pull him away, his father came to bail him out at the local police station. When he met with Christopher in the corridor, Christopher's father "held up his right hand and spread his fingers out in a fan" and Christopher did the same until their "fingers and thumbs touch(ed) each other." Later, Christopher states; "We do this because sometimes Father wants to give me a hug, but I do not like hugging people, so we do this instead, and it means that he loves me." This depicts how people with autism share the same feelings as another may, yet they cannot express it in the same way. As people often view autistic people as almost isolated in their own mind, the wider population lack a greater understanding of the condition due to them not being able to relate in any way. Accordingly, many people form a subconscious perception of disabled people as incapable and unintelligent, therefore further segregating them. As observed by Christopher's behaviour in the quote, we can see that frankly for many people with disabilities, they are indeed very similar, yet are unable to convey things that we would do so effortlessly. Subsequently, instead of forming a misunderstood prejudice of people who suffer from conditions like this, we, and society as a whole must better understand their differences. We must see that just because someone may not have the ability to express things as we know, they still have complex emotions and thoughts, just like us.