What if It Were Just About Being Different? by Ray Stirman

My biggest question about autism is not so much why so many want to see autism as a disease and cure it. I am really more interested as to why people feel the way they do about people with autism.

Part of it I think has to do with people being uncomfortable around people who are different. One of the most important themes that seems to be globaly taught in every culture is that a person must find their “place” in society. They must play a role. It is of vital importance to people that a person learn to make others comfortable with the role that they play.

If a person doesnt play a role where they fit in and make others comfortable, then it seems to be that most (if not all societies) will decide to see the difference (such as the diverse expressions that a person with autism might display) as either a dilberate expression of aborance or a disease that must be cured.

Now obviously Im not refering to the other difficulties a person with autism experiences or the distance an autistic may display from others that frustrates parents. These are important issues and there are other such issues that are equally important.What Im concerned within this essay is how most people ( as has been MY experience) handle peoples differences.

One might think that there are cultures, subcultures, and/or countercultures that are more allowing for difference. However this has not been my experience.

I have found this to be true even among people who have been outcast themselves. Also, sometimes, I have found this to be true even among groups of people with autism. I sometimes assume that maybe people who have been outcast themselves are so eager to overcome the frustration of being treated as an outsider that they are blinded to their own exclusionary ways.

I assume that mainly because I MYSELF have done it to others. I was so anxious to be included that I ended up excluding others in order to secure my own place in the group. I paid a very high price for these mistakes and I hope that I never do it again. Im in no position to blame anyone else but maybe I can bring up an idea that will benefit others.

People with autism are fighting for inclusion by way of accepting difference. I cant imagine a more ambitious goal for any minority than this one is for autistics. Inclusion is important for everyone and people with autism are all very different.

If people with autism and those who care about us are going to teach society how to celebrate difference and include all people who are different we must first show them how, by being example of acceptance ourselves.

What if autism is just a difference? How do we show society a way to be more accepting of all peoples difference? I really don’t think that this is an easy goal at all. I think it will take a great deal of effort on everyones part. However, I think that this goal is very important, and I want to dedicate all that I can to seeing it achieved.