Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Acceptance and understanding
That's what people of the autism community really want, acceptance and understanding. I've actually found people confused by this. Various attitudes out there make it more difficult to educate on the idea. Attitudes of "why can't you just get over it" or "just shut up" or "you look normal".
What they don't get is that we have social difficulties that haunt us in everday life; some worse than others. Yes there are those who aren't bothered by it at all, but look aroud, does everyone really look identical to you? They aren't; they're fat, thin, short, tall, and varying shades of color. The same goes for the affects of autism in each member of its community.
You may be frustrated by the strange behavior or reactions that don't make sense to you from some person who actually has autism. But the truth of the matter is that person is likely just as frustrated. That's because he didn't intend that outcome in the first place. Imagine trying to say good morning but having your body or facial expression do something without your consent in the process. Or imagine that your brain won't let you recognize facial expressions and body language in others. You can slowly learn it with intense study and assistance (like I had to have), but for the most part, it's hard work. Wouldn't you appreciate a little understanding from others as you struggle?
I've seen others with worse effects in autism than me and I've seen them struggle. I had them ask me why they couldn't catch the situation before they did something they called "stupid". I told them they aren't stupid, it's part of our condition and we have to get past the issue of those who don't understand. We have to take the opportunity to educate when we can. But you see, there's one expression we learn really fast and that's shock. Shock we never intended to cause and that's very frustrating.
No one wants to be socially impaired and having that problem creates an internal struggle in a lot of autistic people. It can make us try too hard which brings the opposite of desired effect.
So, next time you see someone do or say something that doesn't match the situation very well and it kind of shocks you. Try to pause and reflect for a moment on what made that person do that. Was it autism? Other disorders cause it too, but you get the idea, I hope. And I'm not saying we're all trustworthy either, that's a different scale of issues.
I'll end this with a quote from the movie, Mozart and the Whale: "Autistic people want to be social, we just really suck at it." (Not entirely true so take it loosely).