In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how Philip is more observant than I am. Now, it’s not like national papers are going to print a human interest story about this.
Extra! Extra! Mom pays attention to neighbor’s house thanks to autistic son!
I’m not claiming that Philip has some kind of superpower. In fact, the anecdote reveals more about my shortcomings as a self-absorbed person than they do about some kind of super-ability that Philip has developed thanks to autism.
However, if you look at some of the fictional depiction of autistics in television and movies, one would think that autism does produces superheroes. Even news reports tend to celebrate autistics who are musical prodigies, geniuses, have astounding memories or others whose altered neurology means they can do amazing things the average person simply cannot. Stories about autistic people who are special are the ones that garner attention.
While it is natural for every parent to dream big for their child, to want them to be the best and brightest, the reality is that we can’t all be exceptional. Nothing devastated me more as I moved into adulthood than discovering that I wasn’t the smartest or most talented. It was enough for me to want to give it all up. Having failed at that, I came to realize that I still had friends who wanted to spend time with me, classmates that wanted to study with me, and family that still loved me even if I wasn’t the “most —” or the “-–est.”
Even though I may not be the best at anything, my son brings out the best that is in me. Earlier this month, Ariane Zurcher wrote about wanting her autistic daughter to “Be the Very Best YOU, You Can Be.” That’s really want we should want for all human beings. If they need a little extra support or some accommodations to be able to contribute to society, so be it. How does that hurt anyone else?
No one should have to have a superpower to earn respect. All human beings, autistic or not, deserve to be treated with dignity. So, let’s remember that we are all human, we all make mistakes, we all have strengths, we all have weaknesses. We all want to be valued.
Today’s message of autism acceptance for the April Blogging A to Z Challenge is simple: V is for valued. Let’s hope for a future where they are no longer vilified or victimized.