So, it’s been a while but, today is World Autism Awareness day so, I thought I would pop in to say a few things.
Today I have seen countless posts concerning loved ones being diagnosed with ASD. The most common phrase I have seen is “my child/nephew/niece/etc. doesn’t fit the mold of what I thought Autism was” Autism, in my opinion is one of the most misunderstood diagnoses. Everyone knows someone with ASD and every single case is different. There are similarities between them but, no two people are the same.
That is what Autism awareness means to me. Everyone is aware of what Autism is. Most just don’t understand what it means. It can mean verbal OR nonverbal. It can mean an inability to handle change at all, or simply slow to process it. It could mean an inability to ever be self-sufficient or, it could mean living life to the fullest completely independently. Or anywhere in between.
Once you have spent time with people on the spectrum you can see characteristics in everyone around you.
There is a man on the maintenance/janitorial staff at my work. He doesn’t speak to anyone or make eye contact. Several members of the staff have complained that he is rude and doesn’t understand personal space. A few weeks ago I heard a couple of colleagues making fun of this young man calling him weird because they found out that his giant headphones he wears everyday only omit static and not music. (That was the moment when I went “yup that makes sense” in my head) Fast Forward to last Friday. While I was outside on break, a member of the janitorial staff was speaking to another colleague about this man. His coworker was complaining that he doesn’t talk to anyone (not even the boss) and he has the tendency to be very “OCD” and slow. The woman she was talking to said out loud “I think he is retarded.”
I stepped in, because well..that’s just who I am. I stated that from what I have seen in my not so expert opinion he seems like he is on the spectrum. I was then told that “people like that” shouldn’t be allowed to work here. I snapped back that my husband is on the spectrum, has a full time job AND, is a fulltime student. I was looked at like I have 3 heads.
Why is it so hard for people to understand that just because someone is different, that doesn’t mean they are incompetent?
Neurotypical individuals need to strive to be more aware of Autism. Aware that it exists in countless forms all around them and, aware that you are never out of ear shot from someone on (or around) the autism spectrum.