The pseudonym ”Ihanan ja rakkaan Asperger-pojan äiti”, wrote a letter to the editor in Helsingin Sanomat. Pseudonym questioned, why the city of Helsinki does not offer any assistance for schooling to their son, who is having Asperger. Her son just started 1st grade and is in a special class, but he doesn’t have a personal assistant, who he would need. Lack of support has caused violent behavior towards other students, and the school has made a child welfare report because of it. Is this reasonable use of the resources, mother challenges.
Personally, when I read this letter to the editor, I felt sad but not surprised. This is not the first story about saving municipalities money from the wrong place, and unfortunately not the last. That’s why I wanted to raise this one writing up. Lack of information and comprehension might be one of the reasons for poor decisions, but they can’t be used as explanations.
It is critical to bear in mind, that the autistic spectrum is extremely wide. Some special features can be recognized, but still, all people in the autistic spectrum are individual human beings. Asperger syndrome is one of the autistic spectrum diagnoses. Most of the people with Asperger are about the average, or even above when compared to the neurotypical population’s intelligence. People with Asperger have usually fewer difficulties with their speech, but they might have problems to read another person’s speech, expressions, and gestures. With the right kind of support and rehabilitation, these special features can be affected positively (Autismi- & Aspergerliitto, 2015).
The need for support is individual, and it varies through life. Especially big changes, like starting primary school, might increase the need for support. Often routines are important to the people with autism, and routines also create a feeling of security to them (Rannisto, 2016). Pseudonym, a mother of a boy with Asperger, has experienced that support in early childhood education is nonexistent.
Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish climate activist, has been all over the international news lately. Did you know, that Greta Thunberg has an Asperger diagnose? Greta has said, that she thinks Asperger as her superpower (Rourke, 2019). Greta Thunberg is one of the great examples, how people with Asperger can succeed, there where neurotypicals. But would this be possible without proper support and rehabilitation? I dare to say no, in most cases. That is why we should raise awareness and push the decision-makers to target funds to support the ones, who need them to find their superpowers.
List of references:
Autisimi- ja Aspergerliitto, 2015. Joka sadas meistä on autismin kirjolla – tietoa ikääntymisestä autismin kirjolla sosiaali- ja terveysalalle. Autismi- & Aspergerliitto ry, Helsinki. Online article. Accessed 1 October 2019. https://www.autismiliitto.fi/files/1589/23_4_2015_opaslehtinen_ika_ja_autismi_a5_docx.pdf
Pseudonym “Ihanan ja rakkaan pojan äiti”, 2019. Letter to the editor from Helsingin Sanomat, 29 September 2019, C10.
Rannisto, T. 2016. Autismi on neuropsykiatrinen häiriö, jonka oireet muuttuvat elämänkaaren mukaan. Online article from Kansanterveys. Accessed 2 October 2019. https://www.kansanterveys.fi/neurologiset/autismi-on-neuropsykiatrinen-hairio-jonka-oireet-muuttuvat-elamankaaren-mukaan/#
Rourke, A. 2019. Greta Thunberg responds to Asperger’s critics: ‘It’s a superpower’. Online article from The Guardian. Accessed 2 October 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/02/greta-thunberg-responds-to-aspergers-critics-its-a-superpower