“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I recently watched an episode of ‘The West Wing’, entitled ‘The Stackhouse Filibuster’, which had a storyline concerning autism. I really like the series (despite not understanding more than half of what they’re talking about!), but I was rather dismayed, and more than a little pissed off, to see their treatment of the subject. Apparently autism is a disease. Yep – I’m suffering from an incurable illness. And it’s also a great tragedy for those of us born with this thing (not to mention our poor families who don’t know what to do with us). Please, get the hankies out - I feel a drama coming on.
First of all, I AM NOT ILL!. Nor am I at dis-ease with myself (the annoying word-play that has proliferated within Twelve Step recovery circles, and makes no bloody sense whatsoever when put within the right context of what alcoholism, and other addictions/compulsive behaviours, actually are). I’m not suffering from my autism – except when I have to deal with a world of ignorant people who cannot accept that there is more variety to life than they can imagine, and that God made me this way because S/He has an unlimited imagination and absolute love of diversity, unlike some people. Take a look around at everyone and everything that inhabits this planet, if you need proof.
So no, S/He didn’t make a mistake when making me. Which means that no, S/He doesn’t intend that you should spend your time trying to find a way to fix me, or to obliterate autism - thanks very much for your acceptance. Why don’t they spend all that money they use for research into how to put an end to it, on training and educating people who are needed to interpret for us, and to help us live in this world? And where’s the difference between Hitler and his search for a “Final Solution” to put an end to the Jews, who were seen as so radically and unacceptably different and inferior, and the non-autistic search for a solution to autism?
Secondly, thanks for being so patronising as to feel sorry for me, and my apparently tragic life, which it appears makes me somehow less than you (if you happen to be one of those people who think this way). The tragedy is that those people cannot see that God made me for a reason, just like S/He did everyone else; that I too have “certain unalienable rights”; and I was created equal – equal in this case meaning having the same value.
Thankfully God doesn’t make any of those distinctions between people which only human beings, in their wisdom, could possibly come up with – deciding whose life is worth more based on the colour of their skin, gender, age, marital status, physical appearance or build, academic ability, family lineage, financial status, religious/spiritual beliefs or non-belief, country of origin, productivity, mental health status (autistic, depressive, alcoholic, neurotic, etc), ad infinitum. If S/He did, I’d be fucked!
I therefore hereby declare myself an independent member of the human race, equal in the eyes of a loving Higher Power (I just call it God ‘cos it’s easier to say and remember!), and without need of a human power to decide my value to society. Thanks all the same, but if that’s the way a person is measured then I’m very glad to be able to say that I don’t fit, and I don’t need to try any more. There's a bigger world out there, beyond the confines of 'society' and its rules, to which I much prefer to belong. And it's where I do belong - just as I am, perfectly imperfect, exactly the way that God created me. Long may the geneticists fail to find a 'cure' for autism!