Sunday, February 24, 2013

Venna: Autistic people should... be allowed to just BE

Venna said we could reprint this here, so here it is. 

What would you do, if you were told that you were not allowed to listen to your favorite music, or read your favorite book, relax in your favorite chair or do any of the things you enjoy and help you feel at peace with the world? How would you feel if you were only allowed to eat food that burned your mouth, or only could wear clothes that were itchy or painful to wear? What about if everyone around you seemed to speak in riddles and inside jokes and you never felt able to participate in the conversations? Think about this for a moment, really think about it. These may be all things you take for granted and not even realize it. How uncomfortable would you feel just being? Always uncomfortable, overwhelmed perhaps even and with no way to help reset yourself from all of that input and irritation. Welcome to the world of autism.

I am writing this and hope it may be included in the flash blog being created to change the auto complete options when a person types 'autistic people should' into Google or Bing. Go ahead and do it, see what options you get. It's sad, it's scary and it's a little sickening, and no different from what people of minority ethnicity or alternate sexual orientation have dealt with in the past and fought tirelessly to eliminate. Here's the difference between those groups of people and people with autism; autistic people can't always fight for what they need because being part of the world and society can be painful for them, it can be a sensory nightmare and leave them filled with anxiety and physically and emotionally drained. Therefore, it is up to us 'normal' people to advocate and fight the fight that they may have difficulty fighting on their own. Granted there are many who do fight and fight very well, and they should be commended and everyone should listen to what they have to say. But at the end of their speech if they need to flap their hands, rock in their chair or step outside to walk in circles and hum, don't stare, this is their way of dealing with the emotional stress of speaking in a public forum, just as any of us might go out for fresh air, or go the the restroom to finally be able to relieve our bladders, or even have a cocktail to reward ourselves for a job well done.

When it comes down to it, NT and autistic people are not that different from one another. We all feel stress, we all feel pain, we all can feel fear and anxiety and we all deal with it in our own way. So what if an autistic needs to flap their hands to help them process the sensory stimuli all around them, they don't say anything about your foot tapping or leg jiggling, and essentially it's the same thing. So next time you happen to see someone pacing in circles, rocking in their chair, flapping their hands or hear them humming, don't stare. Just think of your favorite relaxation activity, and how you would feel if people stared at you while you were doing it and thought it was weird. NT people are allowed to just be who they are, the same human rights belong to autistic people also, because they are human, (no, they aren't aliens) and they have the same thoughts and feelings as any other human, and that being the case, autistic people should be allowed to just be. Because that's what the rest of us expect from the world around us, it should be the same for autistic people too.

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