It seems that my new goal in life is making me a teacher about those who live on the margins of life. But sometimes I feel like the guy above who came to teach but no one showed up.
Currently, I am teaching a class here at my retirement community about coping with hearing loss and having fun learning some sign language along the way. Retirement communities should be ripe for this kind of harvest in that 70% of the people, over 70 years-old, have some significant levels of hearing loss. In my dreams, I imagined dozens of my fellow residents would jump at the change to learn about coping in the hearing world. Of course, reality often overwhelms dreams. There started out with about 30 who were “interested”, 15 attending the first session, and 10 by the fourth session.
One of the problems with getting attendance at these type self-help things is to get people to admit that they even have a problem. Let’s face it, people are stubborn. Especially older people. I am disappointed, but will enthusiastically be there for whoever comes, as long as they come. Maybe the next round will be better.
Getting down to my main thoughts for this post, I am primarily becoming a teacher to try to get people to understand what it is like to have autism, at least my version of it. It used to be called Asperger’s Syndrome, but somewhere along the way, the “experts” decided to erase that name. But, that is another story.
I really want to show everyone how the world could be a better place if more of us neurodivergents were openly accepted as contributing members of society. I need to help people learn that they might just be better off if they started emulating some of our best traits, instead of trying to change us to be like them.
At the very least, I want to turn the focus to what autistic people can do, rather than what they can’t.
I have been studying autism for quite a while now, and have rarely seen articles, scientific or otherwise, that show autistic characteristics in a positive way. Many autistic adults like me have strengths, interests, and skills, that have allowed us to lead fulfilling and productive lives and make significant contributions. The constant focus on only the negative sides of autism makes it harder for us to proudly claim the autism label and especially to act as an example for others. I struggled for some time to whether I would claim the label. I still think maybe I am a fool for even attempting this in addition to carrying the deaf mantel.
Instead of putting people down because they have autism, we as a society should be figuring out ways to accommodate them in developing their special skills. We seem to do everything we can to make sure that those with athletic skills are given every opportunity to develop them. Why can’t we do the same with those who are autistic?