I don’t suffer from autism. You do.

2 04 2012

I don’t suffer from autism, I suffer from people’s unwillingness to accept difference in the human race. I don’t suffer autism, You do.

So today is World Autism Awareness Day and of course the media feel the need to recognise it in its own inimitable way. The Guardian for example have pictures of kids at a SEN school with descriptions of typical autistic traits underneath. Is it in pictures because we cannot read? Does it simplify autism for us or does it simplify the whole thing for you? Only just a bit* (*majorly) patronising, but as someone on twitter said, “it raises awareness for the poor souls”. This is the part of the problem, it is assumed people with autism are poor souls for being different to the neurotypical population. It also often assumed by the media, autistic people are all the same with the same behaviours and the same traits, it ignores the fact there is a spectrum or any individuality within that spectrum, just the same as neurotypical humans. The media perpetuates this ‘poor soul’ myth by talking of our “suffering a condition” that is in fact a neurodevelopmental difference. Medically they call it a disorder because it does not fit into the neurotypical view of normality.  What is normal anyway?

Much of the suffering of people with autism arises by being forced to conform to the alleged norms of a neurotypical society. Because our “disability” isn’t one that can be easily seen, it doesn’t have the same social sympathy factor as someone with no legs in a wheelchair. Indeed often most sympathy I see is directed towards long-suffering parents. And therein lies the reality of “suffering autism”. The parents and carers, the neurotypicals, they have to suffer autism. The parental desperation for the autistic person to be “normal” and to fit into or embrace their way of life causes the suffering. Asking or forcing people who have their own way of doing things to ignore their natural compulsion and live to your unnatural standards is what causes the problems. Shoehorning any human being into a box that not designed for them is problematic, regardless of the label you wish to apply to them. Leave an autistic person to live life as they wish, in the manner they wish and they’re happy as can be. No meltdowns. The parents and carers aren’t quite so happy leaving them be though are they? We send autistic people to behavioural therapy or crave treatment to make them fit in with neurotypical life. There is no recovery. Treatment means behave more like a neurotypical person. It denies the autistic person the right to be just who they are. We are telling people with autism they are wrong the way nature intended them and to conform to the neurotypical ideal.

Of course life doesn’t allow for people to live however they wish. How dare we even contemplate letting someone live a life that is so inherently different to that which is understood by neurotypicals. We all must conform. We must all be the same; same clothes, same hairdo, same thought pattern, same tv, same car, same semi-detached house.

Could it be that the neurotypical community have it wrong? Perhaps the idea of rejecting social conformity needs to be embraced among the neurotypical community. In fact it seems to me this is where the biggest problem lies. Neurotypicals are so desperate everyone must conform to their ideals, that they can’t see the damage they are doing to themselves and society as a whole by shunning their own individuality.

I don’t want to conform. Long before I?d even heard of autism, I didn’t want to be like everyone else. I knew I was different, they knew I was different, there was a happy status quo, they didn’t want me being like them, I had absolutely no desire to be like them. Neurotypicals live in a cluttered complex world. Subtle nuance replaces upfront. Body language may reveal a truth that their words leave behind. Maybe if more neurotypicals tried to live in an autistic world, there would be a lot less bullshit. Imagine it; no spin, only common sense, honesty? you can’t imagine it though can you? You don’t want to try to imagine living in an autistic world and instead it is expected to force an autistic person to live in a neurotypical world. A world that is alien to us. A world that is confusing, if only because you make it needlessly so.

Is this my utopian ideal? Yeah of course it is. My opinion, my utopia, but it is no less utopian than the expectations of the neurotypical community that we can and will, or even want to, just fit in with their way of life. It is assumed  that we all want to but cannot. Have you even considered that some autistic people just don’t want to live and be like you? Could it be so?

 

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2 responses

2 04 2012
dreema

I’m going to agree with this. I suffer from autism too – I don’t have it, but my son does. This means I am subjected to his howling, his obsessions, his physical attacks, his violence. I’m the one people stare at and blame when he does things as people feel autism is “bad parenting”. I’m the one whose life is cut down to the basics because he’s only in school for an hour a day. I’m the one friends no longer visit, the one people stare at when we go out anywhere, the one people say in voices they know I can hear “Another bad example of motherhood.”

In a utopian world people with autism wouldn’t expect the world to bend around them for their benefit. It doesn’t. It never will, and that sucks. I’d like there to be more learning and education out there to not only teach mainstream people about autism, but to also teach people with autism that, no, it really isn’t All About You, either.

11 04 2012
jontybabe

Have a read at this post on my blog. Written by my autistic daughter. Its autism (and a learning disability) from her perspective.

http://jontybabe.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/true-message-of-autism-awareness.html

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