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Autism, ought-ism, and being gay

Many people have some understanding that there is more to all-that-is than our physical experience. It may be a belief in heaven or reincarnation. It may simply be a belief in God as the creator existing before (and independent of) physical creation. The notion of a soul is also an expression of a sense that there is more to our identity than simply the physical. We feel we are a part of something larger that was here before we were born and will be here after we die.

It is implicit in the nature-nurture debate that some personality tendencies exist at birth. The most obvious would be a child prodigy. However, we know that all children have certain talents and propensities. One way to look at this is that individuals come into the physical with certain intents. We may not understand these intents, such as a child being born to extreme poverty or having a physical malformation. However, the Law of Attraction tells us there are no accidents. (Others may say that God doesn’t make mistakes.)

The notion that people come into this world with an in-built tendency to sexually prefer one gender over another is gaining acknowledgement in our culture. We are slowly shifting from homosexuality being an illness or bad to simply being different. We are also finding that the most non-gay aspect of being Gay is the shame impressed upon these individuals by the larger culture.

When the idea that they “ought to be different” is removed, a great weight is lifted. People born into poverty or with a physical malformation often ask to be helped. But most homosexuals do not ask to be helped, except perhaps in the belief that changing might remove the burden of shame.

We understand this now from a medical/scientific perspective. The primary groups actively trying to change homosexuals in our culture are religious assemblies who are trying to change all kinds of people to conform to their religious views.

Children on the autistic spectrum are a number of years behind the gay community in being understood as being different rather than a mistake. There is a great deal of ought-ism in autism: The children ought not to have been born or become this way. They ought to improve. Doctors ought to fix them. Parents feel they ought to do something more.

The similarity between spectrum children and gay people is that neither group is asking to be fixed.

Yes, many spectrum children have physical problems that give them pain and discomfort, and they let us know clearly (often loudly) that they want help with these. Some closer to the “normal” range don’t like being different, but it is not clear how much of this is due either to the shame of being different or to not understanding their unique way of being in the world.

Many spectrum children, in those moments when they are accepted for who they are, are quite happy. It is so easy to impose our attitudes and values on “normal” children that it doesn’t occur to us that these kids may not want to conform.

Many parents desperately want to help their spectrum children, often putting themselves and their offspring through grueling ordeals. Because “like attracts like,” in order to attract good, you have to feel good. If you are a caretaker of a spectrum child and what you’re doing feels good to both of you, you’re on the right track. Imagine what society might be like for kids with autism if being different were accepted and valued.

The special children in the photo above belong to Michelle O’Neil, who blogs about her experiences as a mother learning to understand herself and her children.

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