You Just Don’t Understand

I’m sitting here with Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” blasting in my ears on repeat with my sunglasses, and tapping my feet. This song has everything to do with this post and I can only handle certain songs this loud. This is one of them.

My brain is tumbling many things and thoughts over and over again like sea glass. Sometimes a sharp part will hit home and I have to keep it going until it’s smooth in my mind.
I was recently challenged to think of something in a brand new way. I had shared a screenshot from a Facebook group for adults with ASD with my friend about how “NTs” (non autistic population) just don’t understand autistic people. Her response wasn’t to laugh or think it was funny at all.

She instead asked me if I was bitter towards people who are not on the Autism Spectrum. It took me by complete surprise. My first reaction was to defend myself. I didn’t understand why any one could think that I would not like anyone at all.

She shared that she herself had taken the “Aspie” quiz and fell somewhere in between (50/50) and said she didn’t fit in either group: non autistic or autistic and I was still confused and said that I saw that as a good thing. She could see both sides. Then it hit me. Sides. Why do we have sides at all?

There are plenty of people who are not on the Autism Spectrum and plenty who are who already think and believe what I’m about to share but I’m worried that there are people (both) in general who don’t. This hadn’t even occurred to me.

I want to be sure I make it clear that I do no hate non-autistic people and never have but even joking about how “NTs” and how they don’t understand autistics or similar statements or even jokes about non-autistics are just as harmful or hateful as jokes or discriminatory comments about autistic people.

There should be no sides. We are all human and to make this a little more concrete or “black and white” thinking, I’m going to drive this home, quite literally, with those terms.

What if the comments that people made (autistic or not) were changed up a bit? What if we removed the words “non autistic” or “autistic” from those jokes or comments and replaced them with the terms “black” and “white” or “gay” and “straight”?

When what she was sharing finally hit home, my heart dropped. It’s never supposed to be about one side of the human spectrum or the other. Whether we are autistic or non autistic, gay or straight, and no matter the color of our skin- it’s all one big spectrum of various colors, in our sexuality, our physical skin color, and our neurological perspective.

So what does this mean? It means that there is no turf war. Hate is never okay. I think the hate that occurs develops because we feel this sense self righteous anger towards discrimination but we cannot group people into sides. This is not a war against autistics. Everyone, no matter where they fall on the spectrum in this human race needs to be working towards the same goal of better understanding each other.

If we stop defending our ‘sides’ and instead start asking questions, is there any need to even take a ‘side’? If autistics tweet, post memes, and “preach” about how others need to accept us just the way we are and that is all about loving one another- it’s a two way street.

We, as a human race, should be respecting each other regardless… because true love does not discriminate and the best way to teach others this mentality has nothing to do with memes or t-shirts.

We have to lead by example.

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About Gretchen Leary

I am 30 years old, I live in the Boston area, and I am writing from the perspective of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
This entry was posted in ASD, Aspergers, Autism. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to You Just Don’t Understand

  1. donspen says:

    It’s strange how we humans seem to pounce on the least limitation exhibited by another person. It is a testament of strength to rise above others expectations. A very well written piece that will open eyes. Nicely done Ms. Gretchen.

  2. Simon Edgley says:

    I don’t say this to excuse us, as you have educated me that I too am guilty, however we learn our behaviour not empathically but by learning it from others (as I am sure you but maybe not all your readers know).
    Fortunately I/we (?) have a wonderful ability to re-programme core lines of code, which means I can address stopping this immediately.

  3. Simon Edgley says:

    Reblogged this on I can pass for normal, but only for a while… and commented:
    Gulp.
    Me guilty too.

  4. Renee Espriu says:

    I so like what you have written here and do really understand it. Unfortunately, we are as a society prone to use labels for everything and so many have such negative effects. To look at someone, truly, to see past any label that is there, is such a gift. Thank you for sharing.

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