Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg blogs at Journeys with Autism and contributed a brilliant post to a collective blog on Neurotribes called Autism awareness is not enough: Here's how to change the world.
Two of the points she made stopped me in my tracks.
Remember that talking with a disabled person is not an heroic act. There is absolutely nothing required in the way of superhuman patience to communicate with a person with a disability, and stopping to listen to someone with atypical communication, far from being a charitable act, is an act of bringing a fellow human being into human community. Social inclusion and interaction, when someone desires them, are basic human rights that no disabled person should have to request, and that no able-bodied person with an ounce of ethical understanding should refuse.
Go outside your comfort zone. However uncomfortable, awkward, or annoying it may feel to deal with someone who puts out unexpected nonverbal signals (or none at all), or who speaks in an atypical manner (or not at all), it doesn’t hold a candle to how excruciating it is to go through the world isolated because people just feel too uncomfortable, awkward, or annoyed to deal with you. The discomfort, awkwardness, and annoyance of able-bodied people may only last a minute, or a half hour, or an hour, and then they go back to their regularly scheduled lives. Please imagine how it feels to keep meeting up with a world full of people who turn away, every day, because their discomfort trumps our longing.
I have asked Rachel to write a blog for us. She is a wife, mother, writer and artist who lives on the autism spectrum. Is there an issue or topic you would like Rachel to address? Please let us know!