In 1988, the film "Rainman," in which Dustin Hoffman played a socially impeded person who could memorize certain facts and numbers that enabled him to break the bank in Las Vegas, gave many people their first glimpse of a form of autism. That was the year that I learned of autism as we discovered that my son, then three years old, was exhibiting certain traits that are characteristic of autism.
While the Rainman stereotype exists, it's rare. Unfortunately most of those afflicted with autism will not be able to earn substantial sums of money by beating the casinos. Rather, most face a more mundane existence that often culminates in the odd part-time job or years spent hanging around perhaps having an interest in something so strong that it borders on an obsession.
If a non-autistic person was as singularly focused on something as many autistic people are, they could be successful economically in that pursuit. But because of the perceptions of society, this usually does not occur for those within the autistic spectrum. Therefore, a large proportion of people with autism spend their time helping around the house or doing nothing. This is a huge waste to society as well a waste for the individual. Those with autism who do work, usually go into a job that involves a routine and little contact with the public. Jobs such as warehouse work, data entry, mailroom and gardening are typical.
According to Steve Broach, a policy manager with the National Autistic Society (NASA) only 12 per cent of those with Asperger’s syndrome [a common form of autism where the afflicted person is high functioning] are in full-time employment, despite the vast majority wanting to work.
Having a son with autism, I know that many if not all autistic people have potential greater than that recognized by schools or health care providers. When my son was first diagnosed, we were told that he might never speak well enough to communicate, that reading was highly unlikely and that he might never be self-sufficient. Even at the age of three and one half years, he had a fanatical devotion to basketball. Although he could barely speak and most people except for me thought he did not comprehend much, he taught himself how to read the TV Guide at four and one half just so he would know when the Lakers were on television. Even today, if you ask him how much is 120-40, he will be stumped. However if you tell him the Lakers lead the Pistons 120-80, he will immediately tell you that the Lakers are up by 40.
Although some people born with autism go on to achieve great things, the majority of them are not given the opportunity to fulfill their potential. The purpose of this website is to assist those with autism in realizing their true potential and to provide employment opportunities in areas that have not usually been open to the disabled or handicapped. These areas include the entertainment industry, professional and amateur sports, and even the legal profession.
The goal of our organization, is to raise awareness of the talents and capabilities of those within the spectrum, as well as serving as a forum for the spread of ideas, from education to health and nutrition, including new insight, discoveries and positive information, all designed to help those within the autism spectrum and their families, to improve their quality of life. We welcome your involvement and input.
Autism is a developmental disability that affects, often severely, a person's ability to communicate and socially interact with others. It is four times more prevalent in males than females.
Currently, autism is believed to affect 1 in every 110 people. The rate of people being diagnosed with autism has increased substantially over the past two decades. Although this may be in part due to improved diagnostic techniques and to changes in the criteria for autism spectrum disorders (see below), the majority of experts agree these changes are not enough to explain the epidemic rates at which autism is being diagnosed.
Autism Spectrum Disorders is an umbrella term that includes classic autism (also known as Kanner's autism or Kanner's syndrome), Asperger's syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). Autism is considered a spectrum disorder because the number and intensity of the symptoms people with autism display may vary widely. However, all people with autism demonstrate impairments in the following three areas: communication, social relationships and restricted patterns of behavior.
The spectrum ranges from those who are severely affected, less able, and dependent on others to those who are of above-average intelligence and independent, yet lacking in social skills.