Autism Awareness

I know, you read the title and think, well, ‘it isn’t Autism Awareness month’, or ‘I am tried of this same song and dance’…. Which, shame on you really. Autism is rising, a staggering 1 in 68 children have autism… That isn’t including High Functioning Autism, Aspergers Syndrome. This isn’t a fad, it is a dominant gene, and it is something to continue on! And I am so excited for it. Society is changing, becoming far more accepting of differences than what we were.
Now, onto why I even wanted to write this blog. While cutting, and laminating, and cutting some more of teacher’s flashcards today, my kids were watching Alice in Wonderland. You know the one I am talking about, the cartoon with the cards and stuff. I had an elementary school teacher (during the 6 months I was in public school) whose father drew every single one of the cards that was in that beloved movie, and I have no fear in saying so (so much so that my kids will parrot word for word what I am about to say even before I say it).
After reading several books about Autism, (this doesn’t make me an expert, but it does help me understand a small piece of a much bigger puzzle) I notice a big shock in this movie. One of my favorite characters, in fact a lot of individual’s favorite character, is the Queen of Hearts. She becomes quick to anger and can’t let something go until the poor individual ceases to exist, and even then she continues with her unhealthy obsession. While playing croquet, she was so distressed with the line of cards, not lined up currently, that she again, has to eliminate the card. If her mallet (bird) isn’t perfect, she picks and picks at it until it is. She doesn’t communicate correctly with Alice, yelling and becoming intolerable because she doesn’t know how to, and because she is the Queen, others must listen to her. She doesn’t know how to cope with her anxiety, so for her it is best to chop off their heads. No one has shown her otherwise. She can’t even dress herself without the aide of the cards. She isn’t a villain, Ladies and Gentleman… she is Autistic.
I think Walt Disney cooperation was profound in this movie. I know a lot will not say it is their favorite, or that it is full of drug references… But I disagree. It is a closet full of individuals who have special needs. Even Alice, herself, seeing herself as a person outside of herself, in many cases schizophrenia, talking to a cat that no one else sees. Alice in Wonderland, is Alice going into a rehabilitation center. And seeing the wonder in the patients therein. I know I do. She sees them as wonderful characters and not disabilities… which we all need to do! So I hope you can watch Alice in Wonderland with new eyes, new understanding into this cartoon that we all have grown up with.

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