As someone on the autism spectrum, these are the things I want people to understand about autism and the things I want done to help.
1. I want people to understand that autism is not a disease. — I have a hard time with certain words that people use in reference to autism. The words that come to mind right now are fix, cure, disease, and hopeless. I want people to understand that autism is not a disease and therefore is treated, not cured. Autism is a disorder. You wouldn’t say let’s cure dyslexia or let’s cure Down syndrome. So why would you say let’s cure autism?
2. I also want people to understand that things are never hopeless. — Earlier this week I read a very well-composed and thoughtful letter written by someone with Down syndrome. Now, I don’t know about everyone else, but to me Down syndrome seems like a lot more debilitating of a diagnosis than autism. So if someone with Down syndrome can live on their own with minimal assistance and have a job and participate in olympics and read and write, then why are people so devastated by autism?
3. I want people to help. — I don’t want a cure, I want help. I don’t want to be rid of autism, I just want to be able to understand the world around me. I want people to understand that I can’t do everything and sometimes I need more time to do things or better guidance in how to do things.
4. I want people to forgive. — I know that sometimes I come across as harsh or unkind when I feel like I’m only being honest. I know that sometimes I do things that are socially inappropriate without meaning to do them. I know that I act strange sometimes and people wonder what’s wrong with me. In these times I don’t expect people to always understand, but I want them to forgive.
5. I want friends. Autism is so much easier to handle with friends that understand and are willing to help. Life in general is so much easier with friends. Making friends is not easy for someone with autism. It’s hard to figure out how to talk to people and then once you have talked to them it’s hard to figure out whether or not they’re your friend.
6. I want awareness. I want people to understand that not everyone is the same. Autism is a disorder that affects a large amount of people and there are a lot of other disorders out there as well. I want people to not be so afraid of differences and to be willing to accept people for who they are and how they are.