When I speak around the country about growing up with autism to different organizations, schools, businesses, etc. it’s always often a surprise to people to hear that I’m on the autism spectrum. When I was a kid I was considered on the severe end of the spectrum from being non-verbal till I was 2.5 to having severe sensory integration difficulties and emotional challenges. Today though years later I’ve been able to turn my disability into an a-bility through interventions and supports which have led me down the road towards to being a motivational speaker.
With that though from meeting thousands of members of our community sometimes comes comments that make me feel uneasy. With that I wanted to share some things I’ve heard on my journey which I hope, if you are reading this you will try to refrain from saying the next time you talk to someone on the autism spectrum…
“You don’t look like you have autism.”
“You have autism? I would have never known.”
“Was math always your strongest subject?”
“Really? You can talk though…”
“But you seem so normal.”
“You’re pulling my leg right?”
“Is your autism similar to that of Rain-Man or Temple Grandin?”
“Are you cured from autism because you can talk?”
“You must be very high-functioning”
“Do you take any medicine to help you with your autism?”
“What’s it like to have autism?
Whenever someone asks me about that last one, “what’s it like to have autism” it feels slightly odd because I’m just who I am. Autism is a part of who I am in many ways and my experience will vary completely to the next person you will meet on the spectrum.
To continue the conversation towards acceptance, here are a few things you should say to someone with autism…
- “How are you?
- “Want to hang out sometime?”
- “Can you tell me more about the spectrum of autism?”
- “What do you like to do in your spare time?”
The list goes on and on but regardless the conversation, and what you say or don’t say, just know that I’m Kerry and that’s exactly who I was meant to be.
What are you tired of people saying to either you or someone you love on the autism spectrum? Tell us in the comments!