Education is important because myths, misinformation and stigmas cause our individual needs to be ignored.
By Jazz Williams
Those of us on the autism spectrum want folks to understand our hurdles. This could be seen as wanting ‘special’ treatment by neurotypicals (NTs). We don’t want special treatment but your understanding and acceptance. Our autism traits can be misread by NTs thus causing trouble. If we don’t make eye contact, the truth is eye contact makes us feel uncomfortable. On the plus side we can listen to you better when we don’t look you in the eye. Yet a NT may interpret this as disrespectful.
We regulate our emotions differently than our NT peers. This has caused me to get into trouble.
For example, when I was in the second grade there was a thunderstorm. At this time no one knew I was autistic. There was a loud rumble of thunder that startled everyone. I was startled as well but I had a smile on my face. Most anxious people may have unusual responses to certain situations. Sometimes anxious people may smile or giggle out of nervousness or fright. The teacher misread it as me making fun of the class for being scared and I was punished. This is one of the reasons why education is important as punishing an autistic child for behaviors caused by their disorder is damaging to us.
When my grades slipped my mom mistook it as me not wanting to try. When I got a D on my report card in Reading I was punished. If we are not being taught how we can learn what do you expect? In reality, I was not given enough time to complete my tests thus making me feel pressured and rushed on the test. I may have gotten a better score if I had the right support. In reality, I was having trouble remembering what I read. I was not given enough time to understand the lesson before the test. All the times my mom assumed I was not trying and punishing me caused me to miss out on getting the help I needed. If instead, she noticed that I am having issues with my school work, she would have e-mailed the teacher and maybe accommodations could have been arranged.
I went through a program that I thought would help me with employment. The counselor I was given refused to believe I was autistic. As a result, I was not properly placed and I struggled throughout the program. I was placed in a group with people with totally different issues than me.
Autistic employment issues are different than someone in a wheelchair. The reason I am blaming the counselor is because most likely she had to fill out a form to submit a request to put me in the program. If it’s an employment program I am sure they help you with different things. I struggled with finding jobs with little to no crowds, little to no interaction etc. However due to the counselor’s refusal to accommodate me, the right information was not recorded. She didn’t want to hear it when I explained my struggles (such as poor memory) and that also may have caused me to be misplaced.
Look at all the trouble I was put through due to the lack of education and understanding of autism. Folks brushing our issues off as ‘excuses.’ People in positions who are supposed to helpers who have misinformation and ignore facts. The counselor from that program claimed I’m not autistic because of ‘how I talk.’ There is a misperception if you can do things a normal person would do – you’re not autistic. How do you know we don’t struggle with an activity? If you’re going to say someone isn’t autistic because they can talk, drive, work etc., you’re implying that autistic people are “supposed” to sit in a corner and play with their thumbs all day. That they’re not allowed to do things NTs do.
For me, some things are a struggle, some aren’t. Everyone is different.
Education is important because myths, misinformation and stigmas cause our individual needs to be ignored. Education is important so autistic kids/teen/adults get the help and support they need. Education is important because a mere misunderstanding of their autism traits causes problems that can be avoided.
This is why education is important. So many autistics struggle because people ignore facts and listen to the false info.
No one should have to struggle due to ignorance.
My name is Jazz Williams, I am an adult with autism struggling to make my way in a world that is not for me. I blog about autism, mental health, ableism etc. My goal is to squash the stigma and replace it with facts.