Mind my eyes!
The New York Times reported another facet of autism that will likely be added to parents/guardians who tremble in fear about what could happen to their autistic kids. Those who use swings as a calming force may be at risk from falling metal shavings that peel as the suspension apparatus wears. The paper cites a medical journal article where two boys were treated repeatedly for metallic fragments that got lodged in their eyes. Recommendations to solve the problem include giving children safety goggles for therapeutic swings.
Obviously, the matter isn’t laughable as anything that gets stuck inside someone’s eye can cause significant damage. In terms of New York Times coverage, Autism Awareness Month did little to fuel new stories for 2010. However, it’s not easy for the paper to find an autistic child whose eyes were lodged with metal fragments from swings since the city doesn’t have much breathing space for backyards; you have to head outside the city limits. Not much is given on the frequency of such incidents. One theory relates to their low awareness for danger; the last thing autistic kids are thinking about, when swinging to calm the senses, is the condition and integrity of the swing.
For the audience, the biggest concern with the story may be a parental overreaction to safeguard their kids. People are already scared enough, and who’s to say this doesn’t happen with “normal” kids as well.
Despite the knowledge caregivers would find important, the story isn’t a landmark article on the developments of autism. The news may encourage parents to find other forms of therapy, but I doubt sales of swings will drop significantly over metal shavings.
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