What do the quotes “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” and “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” have in common in terms of autism? Well, they’re similar in lessons.
In the first quote, supposedly said by Albert Einstein (although there is no actual proof he said this), If you treat someone with autism the way you would treat a neurotypical (considered “normal”) person, they are bound to fail. The second quote is similar in that every person with autism is different. If you treat one person with autism the same as you would another person who has autism, they are, again, bound to fail; This is because everybody who has autism is different. That is why many consider autism to be a “spectrum disorder.”
Now, here’s the problem with the spectrum, again correlating to our quotes. Someone with autism may be “high functioning” in some areas of their life and “low functioning” in other aspects of life. You cannot base someone’s functionality in life based on whether they are good or bad at some things. However, there is one other thing that you would think more people would know but do not, is this: the spectrum leads back to nazi Germany.
Yep, you read that right. Hans Asperger founded the spectrum. He labeled people on the range as either “high” or “low” functioning. The high-functioning autistic people would be sent to work and would survive. If someone were considered low functioning, the nazi soldiers would kill them as they regarded them as unsuitable to work. These are some of the reasons why many autistic people are understandably straying from the spectrum.
Why do so many people continue to use the range if it has much wrong with it? Unfortunately, there are still people who want to treat autism as a disease and that something is wrong with a person if they have autism which is untrue. Autism is a neurological disorder, which means a person with autism is wired differently from a neurotypical brain. It also means it is something someone has from birth. Autism develops in the womb (as in not a side effect of vaccines, anti-vaxxers.) These people who want to treat autistics as if there is something wrong with them are the same people who want to find a “cure” or “fix” for autism.
There can not be a cure for something that’s not broken. The people who treat autistic this way are why the spectrum still exists, they want to put autistic people in a neat little box, but that is the exact opposite of how you should treat someone with autism. Often, the people who have a problem with autism are the caretakers of those who have autism.
Take, for example, probably the most famous case, Bob and Suzanne Wright, better known as the founders of AutismSpeaks.
AutismSpeaks is a massive problem in the autism community because they are the people who initially decided autism needed a cure. Bob and Suzanne decided this after their grandson was diagnosed with autism. They thought it was such a problem they started an entire foundation to raise money to “cure” their grandson.
Since they began to AutismSpeaks in two-thousand and five, they have changed their mission statement from finding a cure for autism to “Increasing early childhood screening.” Well, that does not seem so bad. By early screening, they mean as early as in the womb so the parent can abort the child if they have autism. Many in the autism community believe this is wrong.
AutismSpeaks is often also considered to support those caretakers of those with autism rather than people with the actual disorder. What i mean that AutismSpeaks often donates its profits to support the caretakers, not those with autism. It is sporadic for those with autism to see a penny of the money supposedly earned for them. While caretakers must receive money to help raise and take care of those they watch over, AutismSpeaks says that they raise the money for those with autism yet give it to the caretakers anyways. It’s an all-out falsehood.
What i am trying to say is, don’t donate to autism speaks, do not support autism speaks. AutismSpeaks is a hate crime company.
So, what can you do to support those with autism? Well, for one, accept them as they are and don’t try to change them. Accommodate their needs as best as possible without making it a burden for yourself. Why i say don’t make it an obligation for yourself is because if you push yourself to accommodate for someone with autism, the person you are helping to feel comfortable and safe WILL sense it and know, thus making them feel as if they are too much trouble for you. People often see autism as “autistic people can see how someone feels,” but trust me, those of us with it can sense when something is wrong.
You can also support those with autism by not treating them differently. Often, people with autism are treated as unique, like they are this strange being, because their brains function differently. A lot of the time, people even treat them as pets, being overly friendly to them. Why would this be a problem, you may ask? When you treat someone like this, and i cannot speak for everyone, the autistic person feels like they are a joke, like they’re this toy for people to treat however they want.
It is often seen, especially in schooling environments, that the popular neurotypical student will take an autistic student “under their wing.” They will treat autistic students better than everyone else to boost their reputation. It seems unreasonable, but it is accurate. The worst part is that the neurotypical student will often not even realize how inappropriately they treat the autistic student and how they make them feel.
What i am trying to get at with this article is autistic people are simply that, people, humans. Treat them as humans, and everything will work out. Yes, we autistics need help with something, and yes, it is different from person to person, but that is why they say, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” is a relevant quote for autistic people; because each of us is different. You can’t simply treat us all the same, as we are not the same. Like every other person on the planet, we are unique in how we have grown up and became who we are and who we will become.