Kristina Kolley is a dear friend who speaks several languages and reads Braille. She asked a compelling question on an article I posted that I wanted to share with you guys. Feel free to weigh in:
"In terms of stories, TV shows, articles, etc. providing hope to some people on the spectrum, the question I would like to ask (as someone not on the spectrum, but who does fall into the disability category), in a reflective sense, is this:
What is the source of someone not feeling hopeful in the first place? I ask this somewhat rhetorically, knowing full well that there is a shortage of funding and programs, a general public who is not yet adequately informed about autism, the prevalence of stereotypes, and the list goes on.
I suppose what I am trying to articulate is that I have found, as a blind person, that there is a societal assumption that one who is, say, blind, is going to need positive bolstering by default. It is almost as though it is assumed that as soon as you are old enough to think, you are going to regard your life as somehow hopeless or negative. I am not attempting to paint my life into something idyllic, but I personally never let others convince me that I should feel X way about myself, my condition or quality of life.
What I have observed, though, is that some blind people, who were surrounded with messages to the effect that blindness was hard, began to absorb the assumptions of the people around them.
I recall (and it still happens) people telling me that I have a positive attitude. I am only mentioning this because it is something common blind people hear, and not as any form of bragging or even a semblance of the truth all the time. My point is that that it was assumed, by default, that my attitude would be negative. Do certain things suck? Absolutely, but many of those things are just waiting for progressive solutions.
So, all this rambling to say ... I am just wondering whether people on the spectrum who feel negative or hopeless about their "identity" (hope that word is appropriate and not offensive), aside from the need for better social programs and the eradication of stereotypes, might feel more positive if, say, the media portrayed autism more favourably, thereby encouraging a nudge of social attitudes in a different direction.
Wow, that may have been my longest sentence ever! Hope I'm at least making some sense. :)"
Margo: I do think the media has a lot of influence on people's self-esteem. If something is normalized on television, people of diverse backgrounds will be able to identify with role models as opposed to feeling defective. Social media, more specifically Instagram, creates unhealthy comparisons between followers. The world is a show driven by social status and image. Hopelessness stems from wanting a different role.