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In the past couple years, I’ve written over a dozen articles examining facilitated communication...

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Kim WomblesRSS Feed of this column.

Instructor of English and psychology and mother to three on the autism spectrum.

Writer of the site (where most of these articles will have first appeared) and co-administrator

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For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known. 

It is, without a doubt, a truism, that we see the world through our own eyes, and that we cannot but help doing so. We try to put ourselves in other's shoes, but it is ourselves we put into those shoes, imagining it from our own perspective. We can't help it. And this is not a failure of autism, but of human nature in general.

Written with Kathleen Leopold and originally posted at Autism Blogs Directory (and edited for a wider audience)

On March 14, I became aware of the CDC’s consideration of adding a wandering code to the ICD-9-CM in relation to autism and other developmental disabilities. ASAN, an organization created and headed by Ari Ne’eman, created a petition calling for people to speak out against the wandering code.

In the autism world, feel-good stories really don't come along all that long often, and heartwarming stories about severely impaired individuals all of a sudden speaking out in perfect English through the use of dedicated facilitators are uplifting stories. We want to believe that miracles happen, that geniuses exist inside nonverbal severely disabled people, just waiting for the chance to shine through the noble efforts of a selfless facilitator. 

Some days I wonder if we were set up from the get-go to expect less, to hope for less, to dream of less. My son's prognosis was grim and bitter to the heart when he was a tender five. And yet here he is at 21 continually amazing us with the strides he makes.

The public perception of autism continues to be one of grim stereotypes. Certainly there is a sizable minority edging to the halfway mark of moderately to severely disabled autistic individuals; this appears to be what the general public pictures when they hear the word autism. Just as certain is that my three children aren't there; they aren't severely disabled, not now, but once upon a time, my son was much more severely impacted so that many standardized tests placed him in the first percentile.
"Despite reports of concern from caregivers and some studies, there are limited data on  population-based estimates and predictors of risk for wandering associated with ASD/DD." --ICD-9-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee Meeting 
Wandering is a real issue with real, present-day ramifications. While it's important to not dive into knee-jerk reactions every time the news provides us with another example of wandering incidents and deaths, it does put a real face on the issue. It isn't some hypothetical what-if; parents and caregivers are dealing with it right now.