“This world is in desperate need of creative and intellectual minds to solve complex problems. But before we can do that, we need to build a culture that accepts mental diversity.”
Alix really captures so much in this quote about Asperger’s and also about diversity as a whole. So often people ask me “Am I normal?” This question makes it seem like there is a desire to be like everyone else, to fit in or in some cases fade into the background. I say seems like because I don’t think this is the desire at all. I think the desire is for acceptance, to be different and it be ok.
When I was planning this blog post with a colleague we thought that Autism awareness week was a great time to promote around the roadblocks that students with ASD might encounter while here at the university. It is still a great idea and we have resources to do this but it’s not the right one for now. Watching Alix’s Ted Talk I am reminded again of the inadequacies of society as a whole to meet individuals with ASD in their world. The roadblocks we put up in being able to access the minds of the visual thinkers, the pattern thinkers, the verbal thinkers and all other types of apparently “non normal” people. I watch daily people with ASD seek support to access the “normal” world. I watch them try and find ways to teach us what they see so clearly in their dreams and minds. I watch the ideas of the inner mind get lost in translation or between the gap between the brilliant mind and the lagging society norms.
So what do we do? Alix suggests that the judgement needs to stop! I agree but I take it to the next step and say it has to go further, we have to stop assuming that this “normal” way is the right way, or the only way. We need to accept alternatives and embrace diversity more. We all need to take the step of closing the gap, it doesn’t have to sit like a burden atop the shoulders of every person identified as ASD. It is a shared responsibility. So next time you are in a conversation where the other person lacks tone, or gets stuck on a topic, doesn’t grasp what you are saying, misses your humor, appears to lack an inhibition button or lack what you consider an appropriate response to a situation step up and try and enter their world instead of blowing them off. This person may just be able to unlock the cure for cancer, have the key to solving world hunger, or maybe just maybe might be the helping hand that you need to growing your inner world beyond what you could have done by yourself.
Check out Alix’s Ted Talk, she really is quite humorous!