I am not retarded. I am not stupid, intellectually challenged, or “slow” by any sense of the word. In fact, none of us Aspies fall into that category. Actually, only a small percentage of all autistics can be considered mentally retarded. So why is it that time and time again my fellow Aspies and I fall victim to ostracizing, patronizing, and general babying. Talk to me like a person. Not a freak show.
I constantly find myself in situations where I witness my fellow Aspies being treated like four-year-olds. There are four of us in my gym class, ranging in severity from a boy who has an aide to my level (which I would categorize as mildly noticeable). The boy who has the second-most severe case is belittled so frequently I sometimes forget that he is older than me. Whenever he successfully does anything in the class (the course is Adventure Education-we perform tasks 30 feet in the air at the top of trees) such as putting on his harness or completing an element, he has a large group of teenagers who cheer for him–they tell him “Way to go!” or “What a big man you are!” and all expressions I use to praise the preschoolers that I teach.
These teenagers probably think they are boosting his self-esteem. What’s more is that they feel good for helping out a boy who is a little different than the rest of them. Thanks, but no thanks. Aspies need to become acquainted with real life and real situations. I discussed this briefly in my last blog post and in one of my earlier ones. Yet I feel I have to reiterate it again and again. We can understand you. Just because you can’t understand us doesn’t mean you have to treat us any differently than anybody else.
We hear you fine. You don’t have to slow down for us to comprehend, and you don’t have to speak louder for us to hear. Talk to us like the high-functioning, gifted human beings that we are. Don’t show me sympathy, for I should be the one showing you sympathy. Asperger’s Syndrome is a blessing in many ways. There’s no need to remind us when it isn’t.