The following is the script for today’s video by the same name. I wanted to upload it to my blog as well, in case anyone isn’t aware that I upload transcripts of all my ‘Thoughts On The Spectrum’ videos onto my Wix website, which can be found here: Ultimate Oddball Website. Thanks for coming by!
First, I’m not a damned puzzle piece, and I dislike the metaphor. I do not exist for you, nor for anyone else, to “figure out”. It’s a confusing, incomplete metaphor anyways. If autism is the puzzle, and autistic people are the pieces, where is everyone else in the metaphor? Is Neurotypical society the person working on the puzzle? Doesn’t that kind of center the language surrounding autism almost entirely around the medical model which seeks to “fix” or “cure” autistic people? Puzzle pieces are fundamentally created to be put together and solved. Puzzle pieces, by themselves, do not present an entire image. A more apt metaphor in my humble opinion would be Pointillism, if you feel that it’s a necessity to distill the diverse nature of autistic people using this type of nonliteral thinking. Pointillism is an artistic method which uses many tiny images to create a much larger image, usually with a connection in theme between the two. This metaphor preserves the diversity of the spectrum without subconsciously presenting autism as something that needs to be “solved”. The language surrounding anything can be tremendously important in how that topic is perceived socially and culturally. The internalization of these ableist views also helps further fuel stigma and negative thinking for those affected.
I understand that autistic people often seem hard to understand to non-autistic people. I really do. What more neurotypical people need to realize, though, is that for many autistic people, you seem just as strange to us as we do to you. Often times, much more so. And, simply put, understanding is not a prerequisite for acceptance and compassion. We may never completely understand each other, and that’s okay. How many people can truly say they ever understood another human being? There’s so much we can’t see.
Next time you’re talking about autism, or any other subject which is still viewed with inherent negativity, please pay attention to your language and the language of others. Try to listen to them without judgment, but study their words carefully. Watch how often autism is discussed as a tragedy. No one should have their existence defined by others as a tragedy. You are free to feel how you feel about any subject, but when your internalized ableism feeds back into the cultural and societal negativity that already exists, and this further reinforces the already existing discrimination and stigma, your feelings are no longer private. Whether you want to believe it or not, many of us autistic people are listening. Keep that in mind the next time you speak about us. Whether you see a reaction or not, whether we hear you, none of that is the point. We’re human beings. We deserve to be treated with at least a basic level of decency. And that’s what it really comes down to.