So, this weekend, I peopled. It was a friend’s 50th birthday party, and he has been a good friend so I wanted to share the celebration with him, even though I don’t enjoy social occasions. I’m ok in small social situations, but this was a big one: lots of people, noise, conversations that I couldn’t relate to, me feeling awkward, not knowing what to say, when to say it, etc.
At one point during the evening, my friend’s daughter was chatting to me about her son. He is currently being assessed for autism, and she was talking about the way that they have identified her son’s various sensory issues, and her frustration with his daycare because they are unwilling to support him. This conversation was going quite well. She knows that I am both autistic and the parent of an autistic child.
She has an autistic brother as well, so she knows that autistic means different, not less. But, then, someone else decided to insert themselves into the conversation… Obviously, this person had overheard part of the conversation, and she decided that she needed to contribute by saying “oh, that’s soooo terrible…” (this comment was specifically related to my friend’s daughter’s son being assessed for autism) My son, my 8 year old son who is obviously autistic, was within earshot of this person’s comment. Fortunately, my bitchy resting face sent this person away, and my son did not hear her.
But, it unsettled me. Why is that ok? Why is it ok to be so completely, absolutely ableist?
What if someone was telling someone else that their child had come out as gay? Would it be ok to say “oh, that’s soooo terrible…”? What if someone was telling someone else that they had decided to adopt a child of a different race? Would it be ok to say “oh, that’s soooo terrible…”?
Why is it ok to display overtly bigoted attitudes about autistic people, but it’s not ok to display overtly bigoted attitudes towards other forms of human diversity?
It is not ok. It is not ok to be a bigot because someone is different in a way that you cannot understand. It is not ok so stop doing it!