By Megan Amodeo
We need to do better as a society.
It is unacceptable for people to still view autism as a one size fits all. We should be well past the stereotypes of autism that have often misrepresented us in the media. The old of views of autism need to be put away, discarded.
As an autistic women and mother, I feel we need to come together as a community.
We are an empowered community of autistic individuals ready to erase the derogatory stereotypes we have often, undeservedly, been labeled with. We need to stop looking at all of the negative aspects of autism, and focus on the assets we bring to society.
Why should we hide in the shadows? Why should we hide our autism? Why should we accept peoples’ opinions, views and stereotypes of our community?
We, the autistic community, comprise an entire spectrum of abilities and strengths. We are a rainbow of individuals that share an autism diagnosis. We are not like the rest of the world. We stand out. We shine. We fly our flags of autism high and proud.
Why should we stand for mediocre?
I am tired of people asking me if I’ve seen “Rain Man”, or if I have any savant skills. We may not all be savants, but that doesn’t mean we don’t possess extraordinary abilities. My youngest may not be a savant, but she is an amazing self-taught artist. People have asked me where she learned to draw such beautiful pictures. My automatic response is always, “autism.” When I get puzzled looks, I explain how her autism has allowed her to intensely study and focus on art. Her autism guided her in researching various forms of drawing. She has an awesome talent, and autism helped her achieve her goal.
Autism has gifted the world with a different view of life.
Instead of focusing on the negative, look at the positive. My autism has always been my constant companion, even though I was not diagnosed until my mid-thirties. Autism has helped me be a better mother. With autism, I can actually see the world through my daughters’ eyes because we share the same diagnosis.
People with autism often have admirable qualities:
- We are often task oriented and focused. We really are able to focus on one specific thing or task until the job is completed.
- We often have excellent memories and memorization skills.
- We can see problems and solutions differently than others.
- We are loyal and true friends.
- We make honest, loyal and diligent employees.
- We are often honest to a fault. (I once drove all the way back to a department store, to tell the cashier she forgot to charge me for a greeting card.)
- We are not particularly good at lying. This means you will get an honest opinion, even if you don’t necessarily want to hear it. (My daughter is excellent at letting me know when I look less than presentable for running errands.)
- We will often go out of our way to help loved ones
- We can love. We do love! We love our families, our friends and our pets.
- We can be open with others, sometimes too open.
- We like to talk. Okay, sometimes we talk about only one specific thing for a little too long.
- We are full of information and interesting facts.
- We are amazing, creative and outstanding individuals.
- We can think outside the box.
In short, you want us on your team. Never underestimate the power and brilliance of the autism community!