Ableism is defined by Merriam Webster as: “discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities.”
According to Wikipedia: “the ‘ableist’ societal world-view is that the able-bodied are the norm in society, and that people who have disabilities must either strive to become that norm or should keep their distance from able-bodied people.”
Non-autistic thinking and behavior are definitely the norm in society. This makes sense as the majority of people are not autistic .
In a perfect world, all people would be accepted for who they are, but that is not the case. The autistic person who wants to be successful, must accept the reality of a world that was not designed around them, and adapt to it.
The patient and sensitive non-autistic can help the situation, by not using ableist language and behavior around autistics, or anyone else whose thinking, behavior or appearance differs from the norm.
- No need to shout or talk loudly. Autistics generally do not have hearing difficulties and can hear you just fine. They may not be able to respond, but they can understand what you say.
- When engaging an autistic person in a conversation, do not force or expect eye contact. It can feel invasive, and from the autistic person's point of view, is not seen as a sign of respect or honesty.
- It is often enough to tell a person with autism that you support them. Touching, patting and hugging can be both physically and emotionally uncomfortable.
- A large majority of autistics do not want to be cured, so telling them how much money you’ve donated to find a cure, or about the fundraiser you participated in, is not only unappreciated but often, insulting.
It can be hard for a neurotypical person to grasp the idea that a person who is so very different from the rest of society can be happy the way they are, but this is often the case with autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
The uniquely working brain of the autistic, can provide many gifts both to the person with autism, their family, friends and the society we live in.
Sometimes it isn’t fun to be a cat in a roomful of dogs, but with understanding and patience, both creatures can peacefully co-exist.
There is no need to cure the cat.