"Autism is not a puzzle, nor a disease. Autism is a challenge, but certainly not a devastating one." - Trisha Van Berkel
NightLights is about families living with autism, one of the most diagnosed yet commonly misunderstood developmental disabilities in our society today.
In 1990, one in every two thousand individuals was diagnosed with autism. Today, one in every hundred ten children are diagnosed. Over 1.5 million individuals in America are now considered to have autism, with diagnosis rates expected to rise for some time to come. Autism is considered a spectrum disorder, which means that a person can display a very wide variety of symptoms, with varying severity, and be diagnosed as having autism. There is currently fierce debate amongst advocacy groups, state and federal governments, and many medical institutions as to the exact parameters of autism diagnosis criteria and terminology.
For a person affected by autism, the experience is described as isolated, closed off, sometimes disconnected. Some describe an amplification of sights and sounds that are harsh, even painful. Others are able to perceive and operate in the world in ways that are impressive or even miraculous to their peers. People affected by autism experiences the world uniquely, which can make their process of interaction with some others difficult and frustrating. They, and autism in general, are often subject to misunderstanding, prejudice, sometimes outright bullying and violence.
NightLights will advocate for these individuals and advance this dialogue in a way that is welcoming to all backgrounds and experiences, dispelling the notion that people with autism are inherently "different" and should be segregated from society. Instead, NightLights advocates for the inclusion of these individuals in our national landscape, recognizing their capacity for accomplishment, love, and meaningful relationships.