I have discovered the key to inclusion of people with autism in school and the community. You see, it is all a matter of perception. Instead of trying to explain my son through the confines of autism, I have discovered a much more enlightening explanation. I now tell people that he’s French. After all, the signs are there: He speaks an incomprehensible language; has a unique style of personal grooming, demonstrates a disdain verging on revulsion of American cuisine, and is maddeningly aloof.
Imagine living in a cramped and segregated hospital-style ward, with no privacy, no personal control over your daily life, no chance to form intimate relationships, and no ability to leave. Overcrowding, under-funding, a lack of qualified supervision, as well as a lack of residents’ abilities to advocate for themselves, led to these toxic environments being a daily reality for widespread alleged abuse for thousands labeled with cognitive and developmental disabilities in Canada as recently as 2009.