A recent news story, filled with a lot of science and interesting information, also included the insight from a man with autism, named Jeff Hudale.
You can read the news story here, in fact, I suggest you do: What’s Different About The Brains Of People With Autism?
Now, the science behind the story and the things that they are finding out about the human brain, specifically the differences between the typical and autistic brains, are really quite amazing.
But I would like to focus on the very last part of this piece, where Jeff Hudale states:
“I don’t want to quit until they finally can get this set right and get this thing eradicated,” he says. “I’d like to have some semblance of, just be a regular person like everybody else.”
There’s been a lot of talk about this through out the autism community but despite the attention it’s attracting, I see very very little (none to be honest) support or even acceptance of his feelings.
The general consensus that I see from people is that it’s sad that he feels this way and that he’s simply confused. That somehow it’s the life time of bullying, judging and other messages he receives either intentionally or unintentionally, that has caused this man to think of his autism in such a negative light.
There’s a lot to take in there as you begin to wonder if his parents had pushed for a cure or treated him differently because he was “broken.” Keep in mind, at 40+ years old, his diagnosis came at a much different time than how things are today.
Was he raised to be proud of himself or to always be aware of his differences. Did he read a lot of what the media had to say about autism and reflect those things inward?
Did years of bullying or lack of friends cause him to hate autism for making him the way he is?
Generally, it comes down to outside forces.
Put it this way, when we generalize his reaction into a “who said what to make him feel this way”, we are sort of dismissing him entirely and “putting the blame” on others.
That’s a nice way to look at it, to be honest. It means there is nothing wrong with him, it’s society that got to him and made him think this way.
However, the “nice way to look at it” isn’t always the honest way to look at it.
See, I like this news article because it’s honest and real. He is not the first autistic I’ve heard of, or even talked to, that has expressed a desire to be rid of autism. Or to use the “fighting words” version… to be cured.
I think, and this may just be me, but not everyone needs to “just accept it” and “just be proud of it”… some people don’t and never will. They simply wish that they do not have autism.
While it’s not the approach I take nor is it what I suggest, as it is obviously negative and self defeating, it is a reality.
Sure we could just say that Mr. Hudale should just be happy with himself despite what anyone else thinks but that’s what we think of his life.
That might not be so easy for him to think, nor is it a requirement. We can’t just demand that of him.
Wouldn’t that be more of the “stop thinking so differently and conform to what the rest of us believe!” mentality anyway?
Besides, this line of thinking ignores the simple fact of what autism really is… a disorder or disability.
There are a great many struggles, heart aches, things you can’t do, negative messages and so much more that you have to live with for your entire life when you have autism.
Some examples for some autistics include never going anywhere loud (concerts, subways, movies, etc), never being able to play sports, never being able to make friends and the list goes on and on. I couldn’t possibly list every possible thing that autism could limit or cause you to never experience at all.
There is just so much negative in life that comes with having a disability (or disorder) that it would be a bit naive to assume that it’s only due to bullies or other people that a person would wish to not have that disability.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s never the case. I think it’s safe to say that some people do hate autism or what ever disability they may have simply because of how it causes others to treat them or how others look at them.
Perhaps some of those people could grow to accept and maybe even love having autism if only people were more accepting of them.
But I think it would be a stretch to think that is true of every single person.
Some people may just wish to no longer have autism because they simply do not want to have autism. No matter their age, no matter what others say or do, no matter what you or I think they should feel… they just don’t want to be autistic anymore.
And we need to be accepting of that too.
Acceptance means we that don’t judge people for how they feel or what they think whether or not we agree or even understand it.
That goes for people who are not proud of having autism. Not just the people that are.
Let’s talk to them. Not ignore or dismiss them.