It’s been a while since the last time I delivered a masterpiece in the form of a blog post. I have spent the last week and a half recovering from a cold but I’m back and ready to kick ass and take names, in a figurative sort of way. Now the purpose of this blog has always been to change the way we as a society look at Autism but this post is really going to change the way you look at the disorder. This post will take everything you know about Autism and completely shatter it into more pieces than the hardest jigsaw puzzle you’ve ever done. Now in the much older post “You’re Autistic? But You’re So Smart…” I ranted about the way Autism is presented to those may be unfamiliar with the disorder or need to be told what to look for. Now in that blog post I put The May Institute on blast for the portrayal of Autism in a rather PSA that goes viral on the MBTA trains during Autism Awareness month and beyond. Those who ride the trains or are anywhere in Boston will know exactly what I’m talking about but for those who don’t, here is are some visuals.
Now the point of this post isn’t to bash The May Institute (formerly The May Center) or to make them out to be bad guys. This is a really awesome establishment with very good intentions and if it weren’t for the dedication of their staff I wouldn’t be where I am today so to them I will always be grateful but back to business. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t ever doubt for a second that these are a group of really phenomenal kids and teenagers that are a joy to work with and are the reason many of The May Institute workers get up in the morning despite fatigue but, these pictures perpetuate several stereotypes that are synonymous with an Autism diagnosis. Those who are artists and take art classes are familiar with a “focal point”, the part of the picture that is designed to avert all attention from everything else. Now these pictures are designed for those looking at them to notice that there is something off on the child, something that makes them different from everyone else. Now as good as the intentions of The May Institute are when it comes to pointing out some of the common traits of Autism but these pics don’t tell the whole story. People who don’t know any better will look at those pictures and will have a picture painted in their head of what they think Autism is. Now if someone like me told someone who only knew of Autism through those picture that I was on the spectrum you wouldn’t believe me, you’d go looking for all the irregularities pointed out in those pictures. These pictures only represent the extreme end of things but Autism is a spectrum of disorders where everyone falls all over the place.
Now I shall reiterate the rant I wrote in the previous post. Why couldn’t Autism look like someone going work? Why couldn’t it look like someone shopping in a super market or taking their significant other on a date. Why couldn’t it look like someone at a bar getting a few drinks with their friends or someone salving away at the kitchen table paying bills? People are so hung up on generalizations that they miss out on a very unique individual who has more to offer than you realize. Today I shall show you what Autism truly is and by the time we’re done you’ll forget what you knew prior.
Autism can be a lot of things and not the things you’ve been taught to expect.
Autism can be this epic Joker impression,
It can also be these guys ready to heat it up the basketball court,
It can also be these two lovely studs getting ready to take the world,
Or these studs putting in work for the ladies,
It can also be this badass playing the guitar,
Or this other badass of a flutist to the left,
It can also be this amazing camper making an awesome birdhouse,
Or this camper working on a masterpiece drawing,
Or this boss who had the balls to step way out of his comfort zone and cross dress,
Autism can also be campers having an epic time on a water slide,
It can also be this brave warrior climbing a tree knowing damn he doesn’t like heights,
It can be this former camper and now counselor receiving an award for being a great ambassador/leader
Or simply being a great counselor/mentor/friend,
It can also be this inseparable pair who practically fell in love with each other at first sight,
It can be this lovely lady who won my heart at camp,
It can also be this beautiful high schooler going to homecoming,
And last but not least,
It’s this Epic Autistic badass who works tirelessly to write these really epic blog posts that blow minds harder than psychedelic drugs and makes grown men and women cry. Autism isn’t only the extreme ends portrayed in these pics below,
Autism is a culmination of those pics, the new ones I showed you, and everything else in between. To reiterate what I’ve said previously, if you’ve met one person with Autism you’ve only met one person with Autism. Everyone is a different and though people on the spectrum share certain characteristics that place them on the spectrum such as their inability to make eye contact or poor impulse control or issues with repetitive behaviors, you can never let these traits be the definition of Autism. Autism is so much more than what it’s been made out to be, now when you went though all of the pictures I put up to show you what Autism really is did you notice anything out of the ordinary? I don’t think so. It’s time to stop looking at Autism or any disability as strange and out of the ordinary. At the end of the day, all of us are human beings who have their own unique personalities, beliefs and gifts to bring to the great big table known as life. The sooner we stop telling people to look for what makes a person stick out in a negative way the sooner we can eliminate all the stigmas of the world. Stay classy people.
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