Autistic People Are Everywhere

This post is a part of today’s “Autistic people are . . .” flashblog. You may have seen the news this week that Google has promised to eliminate the problematic “Autistic people should” autocompletes in response to last week’s flashblog. They’ve said it will take time to engineer, so while the hateful autocompletes are still appearing, hopefully they’ll soon be gone.

We can make a difference by speaking up.

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Autistic people are everywhere.

We sit next to you at school and on the bus. We give your dog his rabies shot, teach your kids, make your latte and sweep the floor at your grocery store. We pass you on the sidewalk and stand beside you on the subway. We eat in the same restaurants, shop in the same stores, go to the same gyms that you do.

We are mothers and fathers, husbands, wives and partners. We are sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

We are everywhere, all around you.

*

If you don’t see us, it’s because we’ve mastered the art of hiding in plain sight.

We don’t come neatly labeled. Many of us don’t “look” autistic. You can interact with us and not realize you’ve talked to, worked with, studied with, played with, cursed out, fallen in love with, or are related to an autistic person.

We often don’t share our neurological status unless we feel that we absolutely have too, and even then sometimes we don’t.

There is no payoff for calling attention to our differences. There is no reward for being openly autistic. The risks are real.

Many of us remain quietly, even silently, autistic.

We are everywhere, sitting beside you, walking past you, interacting with you. Do you see us?

9 thoughts on “Autistic People Are Everywhere”

  1. Tonight is the Gay Mardi Gras in Sydney. I couldn’t help wondering with all the talk about accepting difference whether than applied to all and in particular to people on the spectrum. I’m not aware of any big parade to celebrate autism in all its themes and variations. How safe is it for people with autism to come out? Just a thought.

    1. I don’t really know how safe it is. It varies from person to person, I guess? Autistic and other disabled people have had their parental rights threatened. A lot of Autistic people, out or not, experience discrimination in the workplace and in higher education. It’s possible to be denied health insurance in the US (at least until the start of 2014) if you’re an adult with an autism diagnosis.

      And there is the way that people just treat you differently once they know. Even the people who say that it doesn’t make a difference to them can sometimes slip into patronizing behavior. I’m slowly working on being more out and it’s a bumpy road, for sure.

      Thank you for raising this question!

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