Popular – of or relating to the general public (2) suitable to the majority(Merriam-Websters.com)
When you think of these two definitions, the meaning of the words they relate to, what comes to mind? Pop music, Pop Culture? What is pop culture? Well, simply put it is the “entirety of ideas, perspective, attitudes, images and other media that permeates the everyday life of society” (Wikipedia.com)
Our society needs a lesson in sensitivity. Lately more and more artists and tv shows are using stereotypes that hurt all the progress we have made in raising not just awareness but in raising acceptance. The most recent of this was included in the song Drake released ft, J. Cole. His lyrics continue the negative stereotypes that individuals with autism live with. Many outside of the autism community have said “it’s just a song” or “he’s just rhyming” but for those of us who struggle daily with meeting the needs and demands of a child with autism or of having autism ourselves these aren’t just lyrics and it’s not just a song.
Last month, one of my favorite shows on ABC Family made a remark about an individual being autistic due to his ability to remember a complex coffee order. Once again continuing the trend of a stereotype of “rainman.”
For every step we take moving forward pop culture has a way of pushing us back three. Today’s youth look up to these artists, watch these TV shows, and hear the world around them. If we are to live in a world where everyone is accepted as they are, where our children have a chance to be accepted and be seen as more than some negative stereotype, then as a community we can not accept this as the “norm”.
There is awareness, that is evident by the fact that autism is showing up in more and more of today’s pop culture. We need education and sensitivity. We must demand that our children and adults with autism are given more of a fighting chance than they have now. We need acceptance of our kids the way they are.
There is an old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” I beg to disagree! Actually I call bullshit and I call it now! These words are hurting our kids. They hurt each step forward we make. I say it’s time we yell louder and make these “Role Models” understand their effect on the world around them. Who’s with me?