It's been almost a week since Jerry Seinfeld shared that he 'may be somewhere on the Autism spectrum'.
Since then, much of the Autism community at large is rather positive about him sharing his own revelation.
Many Organizations are praising Mr. Seinfeld for his comments regarding himself and Autism, and hope that it may help remove the stigma associated with being on the spectrum. Along with these organizations are rather respected and prominent individuals within the community - from other Adults with Autism, to Parents of Children who are on the spectrum.
The challenge, however, is that there are those within the community who see Mr. Seinfeld's comments and 'coming out' as Autistic as a watering down of Autism.
Some have even resorted to name-calling and have thus resorted to online bullying - calling Mr. Seinfeld a liar, awaiting his 'official diagnosis'.
There is a sad sense of irony here - that the very people who demand respect and equality - aren't giving it themselves.
There's a deeper issue within the community that goes beyond Mr. Seinfeld's self-diagnosis. This issue is something that we all need to think about...
For the past 6 years I've read online at least 30 Parents who have reached their emotional limit and have committed the most heinous act there is - that of killing their own children.
We blame the Parents for not getting the help, the parents blame the system for not having services in place to help them with their child...
But what does the community do? We sit back - unable to look beyond our own selfish motives - and lay blame at the mother or father who kills their kid.
Each article I've read echo's the same story where the parent is at their wits end - not knowing what to do. They don't know where to reach out to get help, and if they did - they couldn't afford it - or couldn't identify where even to start. Each article discusses friends and family who didn't have a clue... even friends within the community couldn't have seen it coming.
But what does the community do? We blame the parent, we blame the system.... we call these acts atrocious... but do nothing, and these horrendous things happen again ... and again...
This deep issue resides within our own selfishness to protect our own children - forgetting that there are millions of children and adults who are going through the same thing.
Each person with Autism has their own set of challenges and struggles - and Parents are just trying to hang on, fighting to get whatever services we can to help our children become the best that they can be.
With Autism being a Spectrum disorder - this means that each individual has their own complicated set of issues that they have had to deal with their entire lives.
Mr. Seinfeld may be on the spectrum, he may not... but he identifies with the markers, which seems to have helped him understand himself.
Should we rebuke him as a community in the same way that our own children have been rebuked and chided for how they behave in public?
Should we water down his self-diagnosis because it doesn't fit within the constraints of what our children are going through?
If we do so, how would we be helping to spread Autism awareness and understanding?
I submit, therefore, that ignoring and demeaning Mr. Seinfeld's self-diagnosis is akin to ignoring and demeaning anyone who identify's themselves as being on the Autism Spectrum.
We are responsible to listen to those who need help - from the parents - to those who reside on the Autism Spectrum. If we don't listen to their voice, to their cries for help... then we are just as responsible for those lost as the Parents who reached their wits end.
I commend Mr. Seinfeld for seeing that he 'may be somewhere on the spectrum'. The fact that he shared this also means that he will get all the positive and negative issues associated with being on the Spectrum. Hopefully he will be encouraged by the community, and I hope that he will continue his support of Autism awareness efforts that have already helped many people and organizations.
I believe that we are to always encourage one another in our journey. To do otherwise is demeaning and selfish.