The local branch of the Norwegian Autism Association shared a video on Facebook a couple of days ago. They called it a wise young man, and I see the point, but I am still not convinced. The video was taken from a debate program on TV, and it shows a young man speaking about the stigma of autism. I agree with him that many think different in a bad way, damaged, weak, and sick when they hear the word autistic. I also agree that we are not, but I have problems with the idea that it’s the rest of the world that needs to adapt to autistic people. That’s not likely to happen, and would it really be fair?
It’s easy to say that we just need the rest of the world to catch up with us. I have written a lot about this before and don’t want to repeat myself too much, but I like the comparison with other disabilities. What do you think would happen if someone told blind people that there was nothing wrong with them, that they just had a different way of viewing the world? Society doesn’t like to spend money. It doesn’t want to consider people that need support, so if there is a chance they can reduce and even completely remove services, they will do it without any hesitation.
So when autistic people say that no one on the spectrum should receive any support because they don’t need it themselves, they are making life harder for everyone. I listen a lot to podcasts, both for entertainment and education, such as ADHD Support Talk Radio Podcast with Tara McGillicuddy. There’s an episode from april 2015 I have been thinking a lot about lately, Real World Consequences. I like this phrase because it sums up the main point nicely.
No matter what diagnose we are talking about I don’t see how we can expect everyone else to adapt to us, while we justify everything as being our difference. The problem today is that schools and the public health care offer some support during childhood, but not necessarily the right kind, and as soon as the child turns 18, everything is taken away. What kind of help do you think children need?
Organization and social interaction are the main issues for many of these diagnoses. In terms of real world consequences we need to learn strategies for keeping things tidy. You may not see it as a problem if you come five minutes late for work, and stay five minutes longer. Your employer could see that as a huge problem, though. You may have a cluttered house without that many consequences, but the same thing will be a problem at work. There is some information you need to keep straight in your head, and some you need to know exactly where to find quickly. It doesn’t matter how much you think you see the world differently, and how different you are in the best possible way, if the employer just want someone who can do the job.
There’s no way you are not going to experience situation you find overwhelming. Dealing with people can make us stressed and if we don’t have the skills to deal with these difficult emotions, we could either refuse to deal with them or do it in a way no one else is going to see as appropriate. Either way, there will be consequences. The point of the help children get isn’t just to learn the subjects. They also need all the other skills required as adults. I didn’t get any help at all because no one knew anything about NLD and Asberger when I was growing up. There is more help today, but I don’t know that there is enough focus on the difficult life skills. The result could be just as overwhelming and confusing today as it was for me. In short, NLD had and still has real life consequences. That’s why I think it’s too simple to say that the world simply needs to adapt to us.