Bringing Awareness to the Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder, better known as autism, describes the large range/spectrum of social skills, repetitive behaviors, nervous ticks, and nonverbal communication that affects every 1 in 59 children in American today (Austismspeaks). Since autism is a spectrum, everyone who is affected by it is unique with their own personal skills, along with personal weak points. Since autism is a disorder that comes around the ages of two and three in children, I believe educational systems like schools and daycares need to make more of an effort to implement programs such as applied behavior analysis, occupational therapy (ABA), and speech therapy in order to help kids with autism improve their skills at a young age to improve their chances of a more stable and independent adult life. I also believe there needs to be more awareness in general so future, and expecting, parents know the signs of autism and what they can do to improve their child’s’ skills. Because autism is undetectable in the womb, it is very important after the first signs of it appear to begin these said therapies instead of waiting for a formal diagnosis.
In my experience with autism, my younger brother started showing signs of undeveloped speech by the age of 3. However, even though my parents knew something may have been wrong, there was not nearly enough awareness being spread about the disorder to let them know the things they could have done earlier on to help his situation and improve his chances of being able to develop his skills. I believe this is a moral issue because we are not only failing to inform the public about the disorder itself and things people can do earlier on to better a child’s chances of developing skills, but it is also endangering our future because more and more children are being diagnosed and, with no awareness, information, or help from educational environments, parents suffer and most of all, the children who are diagnosed suffer. There needs to be more awareness spread because without it, parents do not know how to detect autism within their child and, even more morally unjust, children suffer because they feel different and may not have the social or verbal skills to express how they feel. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that as soon as a parent feels as if their child is showing signs of autism they should put them into therapy such as ABA and speech therapy (WebMD). If more schools and daycares implemented these types of resources for children, their futures would be brighter and more independent. In Stephen Bickham’s, Future Generations and Contemporary Ethical theory, it is stated that some people may think the present should have no obligation to support the future, yet it is unethical to think this way because it is one of the humans’ ethical responsibilities. In Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, he makes the argument that it is our moral obligation, or as he puts it, justice, to ensure the economic, and most importantly in this case, intellectual and educational “capital” for the future generation. I think these two ethical standpoints help the argument of supporting advocacy and more help provided by educational systems for children with autism since they argue it’s our duty to help the younger generations, which is what we would be doing if more advocacy and therapy was provided. I agree with both Bickham and Rawls in terms of it being the present generations’ duty to ensure the education of our future, however, there are some ethical standpoints that could argue for the opposing side. Since more children are not affected by autism than ones who are, using the ideals of utilitarianism, one may argue that the funds needed to implement ABA, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc. into educational systems would affect the greater good, which goes directly against the idea of self-sacrifice. However, I believe it is unfair for children with autism to sacrifice having an easier life through therapy just because it would affect the population as a whole. Another counter-argument that should be addressed on the moral and ethical standpoint of autism awareness is that, with utilitarianism, the future generation is not yet in existence, so should the present population really be worried about their greater good or even be included in the idea of utilitarianism? (Bickham).
Some may use this argument to claim autism in children does not affect adults, but I believe it is ethically and morally wrong to let the future generation suffer intellectually and educationally, as stated in Rawls’ theory of justice, because it also affects them economically in terms of finding high paying jobs. Another theory that helps validate the ethical importance of autism advocacy is expressed in Kant’s Fundamental Principals of the Metaphysics of Morals. He states that it would be unethical to speak to someone without being rational, but how is it ethical and just for a person with autism not to talk to someone not affected by the disorder just because they are technically not rational due to their inability to communicate due to verbal and social difficulties. However, Kant’s philosophy could be used in a counter-argument since one could say kids with autism are only using the funds given and their therapists as a means to an end, which goes against Kant’s ideals. However, going off from what Rawls and Bickham believe, a general statement most people like to say is that they believe in justice and that they have responsibilities and duties. My question is, where is the justice in letting parents who have children that suffer from autism be in the dark about the signs of the disorder and outlets they can use to identify and develop the weak points in a child’s skillset? Where is the responsibility of helping the future generations who suffer from autism if the world isn’t even responsible enough to spread awareness? With this said, I think the foundational issue here is that the problem of the lack of awareness and support for autism is not being answered, even though it will, without a doubt, negatively affect the future generation due to their being a lack of intellect and social skills amongst the population.
This negative impact could result in and economic and social downturn since, with the increasing amount of children diagnosed with autism (and the many undocumented cases) directly influencing what types of jobs fill the market and how people socially act. If there is a continuation of this trend of no awareness or help through schools, daycares, etc., autism will spread even more rapidly through genetics, which is one factor of the causes of the disorder. So I ask, is it morally just to knowingly ignore the issue and hope the future generation can figure it out themselves? My answer is no, because, using Kant, Rawls, and Bickham as examples, it is our duty to provide this justice to the future. Even using utilitarianism, one could argue since the population keeps increasing, the future IS the greater good, so sacrificing time and money to prevent more serious cases of autism is plausible. Despite all of these ethical theories support counter-arguments, along with supporting my argument, I believe they help illustrate the depth of complexity of this social issue. Since sociological ideas help support and oppose the issue of autism awareness, one can see it is not an issue to be taken lightly and requires a lot of thought and analysis in order to find a solution. All I can hope for is that the world today recognizes the lack of awareness for this disorder that is affecting a growing number of children that will represent a portion of our future generation, and that people will be able to realize their responsibility to improve the situation.
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below