Opinion: We need to embrace individuality among those with autism

Stella Williams, Staff Writer

In middle school I had multiple friends and teachers who talked down to me with a “baby voice” when they found out that I am autistic, which means that I have experienced first hand being treated differently because of my disability. 

Most people would refer to me as “high functioning” because of the way I can assimilate into everyday society. I would assume they do this because they don’t see me as being as intellectually capable as my peers, even though not everyone with autism is intellectually challenged. Frankly this is insulting.  Not everyone with autism has the same struggles since autism is a spectrum.

Funnily enough, a common saying in the autism community is: “when you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.” 

Society often sees disabilities as a taboo thing. Some see it as something to be treated with caution because people are worried about saying the wrong thing or have false preconceptions, but more often than not, individuals with disabilities just want to be treated “normal”. They want to be treated with the same level of respect as their neurotypical counterparts. And the truth is, many people with autism and other disabilities can do the same things as everyone else can. We can hold jobs, go to school, and eventually end up having families. It’s just a matter of having the correct support and knowledge to do so. 

March is national disability month and April is national autism month. I think it is about time we use this time to educate everybody about what disabilities like autism actually are and how they should be handled in society. But remember, although these months are used for spreading awareness, they are also used for spreading acceptance—showing that everyone deserves to be respected and that everyone is an individual with their own experiences.