Thursday, September 13, 2012

Taboo...Talking About Living with Tourettes, Trichotillomania, and Autism

A few months ago, I watched an interesting episode of the television show "Taboo." Featured in that episode  were individuals with tourettes, trichotillomania, and autism. I found the whole episode fascinating and educational (as in bringing awareness), however when they got to interviewing two individuals with autism and talking about autism and how individuals with autism (and other disabilities) were institutionalized when they were children (one interviewee was raised in an institution, the other by a family member), it broke my heart recalling some of the horror stories I've heard about how institutions were run back in the 1950's and 1960's, and having had seen the damaging effects of institutional abuse in a mentally disabled elderly gentleman I cared for a couple years ago. Fortunately, a demand for reform came back in the 1970's (although too late for some), resulting in movement towards integrating individuals into smaller group homes and expanding services in the community (which enables these individuals to stay in their home communities near friends and family), as well as an improvements in care and the development of new therapies, including assisted communication, music therapy, and art therapy, which enables individuals with disabilities to develop their abilities and strengths and live their life to the fullest. Also, the individuals in the show talked about stigma, the stigma surrounding having their condition and others reactions to their atypical behaviors and mannerisms. The show ended with a great message: "I have found a great purpose in my life. And that is to change people's view of disability to that of ability." and "Can you, as a supposedly non-disabled person, see me for who I truly am, not seeing the autism, but me, the real Tracy!" - Larry and Tracy, two gentlemen with autism.
to which the show's narrorator ended with this message, "Isn't it treating people as outcasts...taboo?"

This episode highlights the importance of educating children, teens, and adults in the fight to end bullying and erase the ignorance and stigma surrounding developmental disabilities and mental illness.

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