Dear editor:

Autism has become the buzzword in child psychology. Familiarity with the term is strong, but many people are as familiar with the reality of autism? For starters, it is a spectrum disorder ranging from severe to mild, autistic disorder to high functioning autism to Asperger’s disorder. Children (and adults, too, can be on the spectrum) are affected in different ways. Many in psychology are now regarding it as a social disability, hampering at times severely, these children’s ability to communicate with their parents, peers, and society at large.

However, successful treatment is available. The younger the child is when treatment is begun, the greater the chance for success in school and in their social lives.

Many of these children who receive needed therapies at an early age have been able to integrate with little difficulty into a regular classroom with their averagely developing peers seeing little difference in them.

Community resources are not wasted on those on the autistic spectrum, either. A majority of these children are on the higher end of intelligence. With the right therapies, they have the chance to go on to be very productive members of society and potentially leaders in their chosen fields. I cite Temple Grandin, who introduced more humane treatments of animals in production plants and which also resulted in higher production yields. She has also contributed enormously to the body of knowledge on autism. She has a unique view into the autistic’s world as she is autistic herself. Being autistic, she also has a privileged view into animals’ worlds.

These individuals on the autism spectrum are not much different than anyone else, other than having a harder than average time socializing and a higher than average intelligence. They think a little differently and learn a little differently than average people, but, really, why do we all want to be the same anyway?

After all, we have more to learn from the differences in each other than the similarities.

Vicki Chapel