This is the part where I suggest I switch to a monthly format and work my way up to a weekly format. Clearly, so much has been going on at work that keeps me away from The Aspie Dialogues.
When I last posted, I was trying to encourage other Spectrumites to share their messages and experiences with ASD with the NT world. I obviously missed my deadline to post the results on the site, but since I only received one response from a particularly courageous soul I happen to work with, I spoke with him about making his message a guest post. We’re making Aspie Dialogues History, here, Spectrumites and Puzzle Pieces! I’m just as excited as you are! Our first guest post!
So, a little about my colleague, Jeff…
He is a very kind man, who will always chip in and support others, no matter the personal sacrifice he may endure. So, for him to come out and self-identify for this cause is amazing to me because in today’s world, that’s asking for future employers to not take you seriously.
…And that’s precisely why Jeff wanted to speak up. To change NT perceptions of us. One voice at a time. So, without further ado, here’s what Jeff had to say about the Putting the Pieces Together Challenge:
Where do I even begin? I think for starters, everyone has to understand that each person on the spectrum has their own set of challenges and difficulties. Some people have sensory issues where one constant distraction in the physical environment negatively affects their productivity. Others face the challenge of socializing or coping with change and transitions. Also, the mass media and some people tend to make unfair and judgmental statements about people on the spectrum. They think they know everything and can speak for everyone but they truly can’t. Each and every single of us who is on the spectrum is different in our own ways and people need to realize that.
On a more personal level, I wish people were more accepting of who I am instead of belittling and hating me for what I’m not. I may not be the most athletic, most talkative, or even the best looking person you’ve met but I’m a human being. A human being with real feelings, real thoughts and real struggles in life! Friends at first sight isn’t always the case but if you choose to welcome me with open arms, really get to know me, regularly touch base, and always make me comfortable and happy to engage and interact with you, that is the key to establishing and maintaining friendship or a network.
The bottom line is that individuals with autism are HUMAN and each individual deserves and needs to be treated like one. We can succeed in life like most people do but if that is going to happen, we need to have the right and accommodating environment. How exactly? By always having the considerate, compassionate and altruistic support from everyone around. Not just from family, but from managers, work colleagues, mentors and friends.
Now, Jeff touches upon several topics I touch upon on this site, and I just want to take a quick moment of your time to elaborate on some of them.
Jeff begins by mentioning that everybody on the Autism Spectrum has his or her own set of challenges and difficulties, and that not all of them are going to be the same for everybody. If there’s one thing I love mentioning on The Aspie Dialogues, it’s that ASD is a uniqueness that is as diverse as the people whose daily lives it affects. That is to say –as Dr. Stephen Shore once suggested…
If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.
Jeff reiterates an important fact of life we must all learn:
If things are ever going to change for the better for Spectrumites, everybody must first acknowledge that we are all unique HUMAN BEINGS, just the same as any NT. He goes as far as to suggest that we can be as successful and as integrated with society as any other human on this planet. We just need to be treated with the same respect and dignity that comes so easily to NTs.
We are just as happy to interact with you as you are with other NTs, but you have to meet us halfway. Relationships are a two-way street. I believe that’s the point Jeff is trying make with his second paragraph.
As for his concluding paragraph, Jeff sums up everything we all want to share with the world with one definitive sentence:
The bottom line is that individuals with autism are HUMAN and each individual deserves and needs to be treated like one.
…And when we get right down to the purpose of the PPT Challenge or sites like The Aspie Dialogues, isn’t this what everybody’s end goal is? Don’t we all want to be treated as a human individual?
Don’t we all have the moral obligation to treat others with the same mutual respect and dignity we would want others to treat us with?
I’m going to leave you with this thought to mull around on until the next time.
Thank you, Jeff, for participating. Just so you all are aware, Jeff is an extremely talented writer in his own right (Or should I say “in his own… write?” Get it? *rimshot*). This message only scratches the surface of what he is capable of.
May all Spectrumites find peace with themselves, within themselves. And may we all eventually see the day when Jeff’s talking points come to fruition for everybody.
Until then, we’ll have courageous individuals like Jeff to help guide the way.
Thank you, and goodnight.