>Dear Oprah and colleagues;
Thank you for making a contribution to Autism Awareness Month by featuring families of autistic children on your show on Thursday. An hour show has only a little time, and yours opened the window on autism for many viewers.
However, I have some concerns.
I am a mother of a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome, a diagnosis on the high end of the autism spectrum. I am also the cousin of a more severely autistic adult. And I fill yet another role: that of classroom teacher who has taught several students on the spectrum. Based on my life experiences, both personal and professional, I saw some major holes in the production.
- The opening was definitely produced with the goal of tear-jerker rather than presenting facts. Facts and concepts can provide dramatic television while providing the audience with knowledge that leads to comprehension.
- Background knowledge, including your own, seemed to only scratch the surface.
- Guests and experts were primarily from the Chicago area, and therefore the group was limited in scope.
- The show didn’t talk about or feature a range of people on the spectrum.
- Featured guests were parents, not older adults or teens with autism.
As we say in public education, perception is reality. Your show guides perception for many millions of people in the United States. Please consider the points above for future productions. With your opportunities for educating the public, you can expand the perception of autism to include much more reality.
On behalf of many parents, teachers, and people with autism, thank you for your time.