Thursday, August 26, 2010

What does understanding mean for us?

What is it that we really want from the general community? Acceptance? Understanding? Equality? I think, in one way or another, all of those apply. I think, however, that understanding is the most important because it leads to the rest.

People who don't understand have come back with comments like:

"Why should you get special treatment?" and "Just get over it." or "You look normal to me." These are dismissive statements and I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't like them. They belittle my struggles and those of my son. These are the same kind of people who would see a melt down or odd reaction from one of us and call us "weirdo" or "strange" or "psycho". That is where the education is needed. That is the understanding that I would like to see corrected. Understanding means some of these people stop labeling us and creating stigma in the community.

Stigma in the community makes outcasts out of innocent people. It makes it hard to get jobs. It makes it hard to walk down the street with any dignity. It's degrading and wrong.

And why are any of us so sensitive to this acceptance? I think it's because our difficulties make us sensitive to it. When things don't come out they way I intend them to in conversation or what ever social issue, I cringe and it's usually too late to do anything about it. When I have one of my sensory issues, well, I've had a careless stranger outright call me a wimp. He looked like a jerk to everyone but I really wished I didn't have that sensitivity.

So what are important things to know when someone says, "I have autism"?

-No matter how normal I seem, there are times I won't be.
-It doesn't make me dangerous.
-My reactions won't always match given situations.
-I will miss social cues and facial expressions.
-My "strangeness" should be taken with a grain of salt and I should not be an outcast for it.
-There are things I cannot tolerate because my sensory input doesn't work right.
-There is a person in here, get to know him before you judge him.

And for kids:

-Odd behavior does not equal dangerous behavior(to others anyway- there are exceptions).
-Same sensitivities and reactions as above.
-Autism is not retardation. It is possible to have both, but it is not the case in every person.

I think people should know that the person trapped within can hear them. I grew up being called "that effed up kid". I remember the people who said that about me and it didn't feel good. So what we really want is to be understood because that would allow us to work easier with the world around us. We're different and interact with the world around us the way our senses lead us. We can't control how we are wired.

I'm sure there are many things that can be added to this list above. Feel free to add them in comments.


Mishi said...

Thank you, Dave... that's what I want with my bad wiring...

Heather Babes said...

I quoted your list on facebook (had to shortcut the typing so it'd fit in a post). Thank you. Very good post.

"There is a person inside of here." That sums it up for me :)

Matt said...

Great post. Those of us who understand must do our best to pass that understanding to others. Your list covers many of the same things I do in my cartoon guide! The only one I might add is, socialization wears me out, and I use alone time to recharge.

Check out the rest of my list here!

Thewildeman2 said...

Awesome work Matt, I'm following your blog now.