The deaf community and the autism community have quite a few things in common, which I like to highlight. People talk about all the losses from autism or deafness that occur: loss of speech, loss of friendship, loss of a normal life. Well, it always makes me mad that people talk about both autism and deafness as loss, tragedy, and nothing to be gained. That is wrong. There is so much to be gained from both of these conditions. Obviously, I’m going to skew towards autism, but the basic values gained from one condition is a lot like the others. Let’s start with the ones discussed above, and continue from there.
1) Community – It is true that, yes, autistic individuals have it harder to make and keep friends. And, yes, I said hardER. It is not impossible, though, especially when you can find people online now. True, I have it hard keeping up with everyone. I found it easier, though, to find people and connect online. There are so many people I know from Facebook, for instance.
2) Perspective – People have said Albert Einstein had Asperger’s or autism. I don’t need to wax descriptive on him in the age of Google, or Time Magazine. His perspective on equations changed how we see time and space. We also have the Pokemon Series of games entertaining children through recent years, also attributed to someone with the same condition. You see, a whole new way of looking at things, new sensitivities, and other sensory “difficulties” can lead to new discoveries.
3) Identity – When you have a difference, you have an identity. You know who you are. You know what struggles and fights you need to overcome. When Dr. Ritvoe said about me, “She’s one of ours!” she was relieved to know my difference had a name. I, however, have only recently learned what being part of a select group really gives a person.
I will have more valuable tidbits about what I have gained in autism in the future. For now, this is a good start. Does anyone have a gain from autism they would like to add to the list?