I don’t want to open a can of worms.
Okay, you know what? I do. I want to open this can of worms because it’s been too long. This stigma with special needs kids, with “disabilities” needs to end. I know nobody reads this but at least it’s out there. Waiting for maybe someone to see it.
Don’t worry, I actually kinda know what I’m talking about this time. My brothers are autistic/ dyslexic/ have Asperger’s. And guess what? That doesn’t make them any lesser than anyone else. Okay, so here goes….
Know that there are different kinds of autism, based on a spectrum.
See, this is the thing people don’t understand. They might come across a really jumpy kid who won’t register a thing they say, and they’re like, “ohh, that’s autism? That makes sense,” but if they see another kid who’s pretty normal, except for some minor differences, they won’t believe it.
Welcome to the spectrum. It’s like wearing glasses. For some they need it because their eyesight is bad, others for reading, and others because one eye looks like an egg. Or something.
See, there are varying kinds of autism and that’s not an indicator of how disabled you are. It’s an indicator of how your mind works. Some kids zone out completely, they don’t hear anything or anyone and live in their own world. Other kids are sociable, but everything they say seems pre-recorded, and they repeat stuff a lot. Still other kids are normal- but then just a smidge different. Some have treatment, and others don’t. So don’t go thinking all autistic kids are in the same boat- because the differences can be drastic.
Know that autism is NOT a disability.
People always avoid my brother because when they talk to him, he speaks in soft, quiet monosyllables and because they don’t understand. But if you know Jacob, you’d know he carries a lot of work wherever he is, he’s the friendliest soul around, he’s a major Cars nerd, and he loves Ferdinand. You’d also know he doesn’t like people yelling, too loud sounds, or questions pointed directly at him, like, “What’s wrong?” It’s not that he doesn’t know the answer, it’s that he can’t communicate with whoever’s asking because he communicates in different ways.
Jeff, a kid I babysit often, has a different form of autism. He always has this thing with lights. Turn ’em on, turn ’em off, give someone epilepsy with toggling the switch; he’s fascinated by lights. Now if you ask him what’s wrong, he can’t tell you because you’re just in the background to him.
Are these kids “disabled” or “mentally challenged” because of this? No! I mean, if you were to apply that reasoning for autistic kids like that on me, I should be having ADHD or dyslexia or something. Lemme ask you. Are people who wear glasses disabled because they can’t see properly without them?
You know as well as I do the answer is a flat no.
Stop, stop, stop, stop, for the love of everything sane in this world, stop treating older kids- and anyone with autism- like they’re not capable of thinking and understanding.
Lots of people have tried to figure out Jacob every way possible except the understand-the-way- they- think-and-communicate-on-that-level method. Maybe it’s too much work for them, or maybe they don’t think they should bother. How about not bothering at all? In the past week, I’ve seen my brother threatened with bodily harm to stop crying, demanded to know what’s wrong, told big boys don’t _____ or _____, had people say out loud that they hope he grows up and make sense in front of him like he won’t be hurt because he won’t understand. I know about a quarter of you mean well. But often those people do the most harm.
Fortunately for Jacob, he forgets people’s cruel blunders better than I do.
The truth is..he can 100% understand you if he wanted to. Unless you’re shouting or he doesn’t like the topic. Then he’ll go off to another thing to do, because you aren’t interesting. Which frankly, is my common response too.
Not all kids can though. Some kids need to go to a school (my brother does but we can’t afford it) and need treatment. That doesn’t mean you have any right to treat or think of them like vegetables.
So if you’re in a situation where anyone, autistic or not, is a. crying b. panicking c. not responding to you, how about NOT saying, “big boys don’t cry/panic/ not respond”. Thank you. Of course, unless you run into me. Then there’s a difference.
I don’t want to make Jacob the poster child for anything. Because he isn’t perfect and can get on my nerves like everyone else in the planet. I want him to have a normal happy life with people who understand.
But things aren’t looking fair for people like my brother. If you can’t think a certain way, then you can’t pass the SAT or ACT tests, go to college, graduate, get a job like everyone else thinks you should. *glowers at laws and cultures*
Maybe if more people actually knew about autism, they’d think differently.