When Sarah Peralta came to class as a guest lecturer to talk about autism, I did not know much about the disorder. The closest I have ever come to encounter the subject of autism was my freshman year when people made fun of a student in my dorm for having it. I had no knowledge of the disorder and the only thing I knew about the student was that he was always playing video games in his room. As a result, I negatively judged him as an unfriendly person. However, learning about Sarah’s life growing up with her brother Evan has completely changed my perception on people with autism.
Although Evan has social and developmental problems, Sarah portrayed him as an extremely sweet boy with great attributes. A memorable fact I learned from the lecture was the prevalence rate of autism from when Evan was diagnosed in 1996 at three years old and the current prevalence rate. In 1996, 1 in every 10,000 was diagnosed with autism while currently 1 in 110 are diagnosed. I am surprised how the numbers show a huge increase in people getting diagnosed because there is not a sufficient amount of services available to provide for the increase.
I think more people should promote awareness for autism so that more services can rise to help children with the disorder. Furthermore, I think that Evan is very lucky to have an exceptionally supportive family. Sarah is especially a prominent part of his life because they are close in age and she is able to teach him everyday skills more effectively. Also, Evan’s family members are all accepting, caring and patient in adjusting to his developmental problems. I think I would definitely have a harder time adjusting to a family member with autism than they made it seem.
Evan’s family made changes to accommodate him in terms of food, noise level, family events, friendships, and schedules. Although Sarah viewed each change in a positive manner, I still feel bad for her since she wanted to travel more and go to Disney World but did not get the chance to because going on trips meant changing Evan’s daily routine, which would not be favorable for him. My family loves to travel a lot so canceling travel plans would be a big lifestyle change for them.
Also, her peers judged Evan and she has lost friends from those judgments. I would personally be very upset if my friends judged my sibling for having autism and treated me differently. On the other hand, in Evan’s point of view, Evan does not care when people talk poorly about him. I think that is a great trait to have. For example, even though it affects his family when he performs actions that are not socially acceptable like having public meltdowns, Evan is indifferent to the outside world.
I also think his perseveration, or ability to focus on something so intently is fascinating. As a future health care professional, the most important thing I have realized from learning about autism and Sarah’s relationship with Evan is not to judge others for acting differently. It is important to respect everyone because having a disorder does not mean they do not have great characteristics or personality traits.