One Mom Asks Us To Imagine What Life Is Like For A Child With Autism
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Try to imagine what it would be like if the few things that brought you joy were stopped or taken away from you. Imagine if you loved nothing more than to jump up and down, that this motion made you happy and calm, but when you did this you were punished. Just imagine what it would be like if the things you found fascinating were ridiculed and joked about. Now imagine that you are unable to make words form in your mouth so that you could say anything to explain or protest. Or imagine what it would be like if you were able to speak and when you did, you were told your words were unacceptable. You were threatened with punishment and institutionalization. Take a moment to really imagine how that would feel. Imagine what it is like to need help, to have to rely on people, and to have those people hurt you, betray you, get angry with you over and over again.
Just imagine how it would feel if experts talked about your neurology as a deficit. Imagine how it would feel to be told over and over that you were neurologically incapable of understanding what another person feels, and that you couldn’t truly understand your fellow human beings. When you suggested you felt a great deal, when you talked about how painful it was to look directly into people’s eyes because it was like seeing into their souls, or when people went to hug you it made your skin crawl or the odor emanating from the other person was too overwhelming, imagine what it would feel like to have people suggest you should just try harder or that you should do it anyway. Imagine, just for a moment, how you’d feel if those same people then accused you of being difficult and told you it was impossible to have a “rational” conversation with you, or you were told you were rude when you confronted them with their insensitivity. Imagine what it would be like to be dismissed and silenced over and over again. Just try to imagine what that must be like.
Try to imagine what it might be like to be autistic.
Ariane Zurcher, a New York City mother of two children, writes about her daughter Emma’s journey through autism—and Emma’s parents’ hopes for her future—at emmashopebook.com. She also blogs for the Huffington Post.