Since Autism Awareness Month is here, I thought I would share some things that people with autism often hear but they are tired of hearing it is time that we all end stereotypes and start raising awareness in order to gain acceptance.
As people on the spectrum, we are tired of being placed in this bubble. We are way more than a disability. We are human and we want to live our lives like everyone else.
"You don't look autistic."
I didn't know that we had to have a certain look—that's like telling someone they don't look gay or they don't look like they are from Africa. You are really getting into stereotypes, aren't you? Are we supposed to have green skin, horns, red eyes? No one with autism has a certain look.
"You can be normal if you tried."
If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I would be rich. What is normal anyway? If everyone was normal then the world would be so, so boring. Normal is just a setting on a washer.
"You should work harder at fixing your traits (the annoying ones)."
We are all annoying in some way (disabled or not), but telling a person with autism to act "normal" is like telling someone in a wheelchair to just get up and walk. We often mask our symptoms because we don't want people to know that we are dealing with sensory overload. We are working hard to meet you halfway—we put up with the things that annoy us, so do the same, OK?
"Must have been vaccinated, huh?"
Seriously, just stop! There is no proof that vaccines cause autism so take a seat.
"You must be really good at math."
Please stop comparing us to "Rain Man"—don't forget that it is a movie. Not every one of us is good at math. I'm actually bad at math and better at English.
"How can you have autism? You're a girl."
While yes, boys tend to get diagnosed more than females, it doesn't mean that we don't exist.
"I'm so sorry."
What is there to be sorry for if we are happy and living our lives? You have nothing to be sorry for.
"Don't get offended if I use the R word. Free speech y'all!"
NEVER use that word! I got called that a lot growing up, and I still hate that word to this day. Yes, I am for free speech being a journalism major, but there is a difference between using free speech for your rights and using it to be a jerk.
"Does that mean you don't have to work?"
Ummm some of us actually want jobs. We don't want to live off the government, we have our own bills to pay, we actually have passions and dreams that we wish to achieve.
"You must be violent and a danger to others."
That is one of the most dangerous assumptions that you can make about us. Because not only does it increase stigma, but it will also make people think differently of us.
I believe that if people spent more time educating themselves about what autism is instead of making assumptions about us then maybe this would be a less ignorant world. So not just in April but all year round, educate yourselves on what autism is because with awareness comes acceptance.