There is something which affects nearly everyone with autism. It is the thought, or other people’s words, that being on the spectrum is a bad thing. This is not so.
Unfortunately, many people take the view that being on the spectrum is bad, that it makes the person less of a person, or that it is a fate worse than many other situations.
Often, people who have autism will become ostracized merely for mentioning that is what they are dealing with.
People who otherwise treated them well, who had considered them previously a bit eccentric, can suddenly change and act antagonistic towards people who mention their autism.
As if the condition made them something other than human.
That it is something to be ashamed of, a worrisome disability.
This is offensive to people with autism. They are not disabled; they are just not prototypical.
People on the autism spectrum react differently to certain stimuli than people not on the spectrum, and often have difficulty with social situations and other such skills. Behavior may be different. But that is the key word: ‘different.’ Not ‘bad’. Not ‘problematic’.
People with autism can have fulfilling lives and function well. The only problem with autism is in other people’s reactions.
The Internet Allows for People to Speak
Unfortunately, people with autism can have difficulty expressing the troubles they encounter with people discriminating against them. As one of the symptoms of autism is difficulty with social skills, such effected people can find themselves unable to defend themselves.
With the rise of the internet and its ability to allow people to speak to each other in a different manner than face-to-face, a growing number of people with autism have been able to relay their experiences.
When talking online, there are no subtle facial cues to miss, and you are able to write and rewrite your words again and again to get your intent across correctly. This has been a big boon for people on the spectrum who have found it difficult to connect with people in the real world.
Often, people autism fear repercussions for trying to defend themselves against discrimination, both from bullies in school as well as afterward, in the job environment. The anonymity of the internet allows for a safe space for autistic people to explain the trouble they have fitting it with other people.
A Boss Who Failed to Manage Properly
One such person with autism recently relayed their experience on The Guardian in an anonymous article. They had a strong resume and exhibited excellent skills for the job, and were a great fit. At first.
But after telling their boss about their autism, their experiences started to go downhill.
People with autism can be just as skilled in various things as people who are not on the spectrum. Repetitive behavior can lead to the person with autism becoming greatly educated about their chosen topics.
In other words, they are not disabled because of their autism. Their skills are just different than those of other people. A healthy society needs a wide variety of skills to flourish, and if some of those people are excellent at some things but not so good at engaging with their peers, overall everyone still benefits.
To continue, this person did a good job at work. When engaged in their routine, they even flourished. But their boss, who did not understand autism, made things difficult. Modifications to the routines. Violating personal space. Highlighting their special needs.
When this anonymous individual sought help, they were rebuffed. They were told to just get it together, or that they just could not cope. These things are not the correct way to deal with issues people without autism can have, let alone for talking to someone who is on the spectrum.
When this person tried to follow through with office police and report discrimination, their boss abandoned them and spoke behind their back. Then they were rebuffed for trying to go to their boss’s boss.
For these people, autism was a problem. But not for the person with autism. They are in a healthy relationship, with a partner, several good friends, and a fulfilling life outside of work. The problem was with the people who do not have autism.
Even institutions who claim to help people with autism can see it as a problem.
Home and School
It is known that children with autism are more often bullied at school than any of their peers. Children have a tendency to pick up on differences, and to turn those differences into weaknesses. This is problematic.
In a healthy home, however, a child with autism is just another child. They may not have the same behaviors as the other children, but when the parents and siblings are not taught to treat autism as a problem, that difference is perfectly normal.
A child with autism can be loved just like any other. His mother and father can love him and treat him well. His siblings can play with him and love him. He may have certain boundaries the others do not have, and some of his behaviors may be different as well, but that is normal for him. The family respects it, and he can be a healthy, happy child.
However, all of the above may change if the child has difficult experiences in school, or in the workforce as an adult.
For some people, it may be easy to look at autism and see a disease and a disability. It might be easy to think of autism as problematic.
But that is not the case. People with autism can be as healthy, happy, and productive as anybody else. Their autism does not limit them or hinder their goals. The only problem with autism is people misunderstanding autism and turning it into a problem.