i autistic » Advocacy » The Spirit of Inclusion

Inclusion is not so much about including those who are different in all our daily activities, but the automatic acceptance of our selves and differences. Each of us have different preferences and needs; each of us expresses ourselves differently; each of us has strengths and weaknesses. Finding the best way to allow every one of us to be our true selves is the goal of Inclusion.

In other words, being inclusive does not mean that everyone must do everything together in the same place. Some people love to work while chatting with colleagues and playing loud music, while others want to work alone in a quiet and peaceful environment. Forcing both types of people to work together in the same place is not respecting their different preferences. It is better to let both work in their own preferred spaces and only come together as equals at shared places such as the meeting room, office pantry, and canteen.

NeuroTypicals tend to interpret inclusion as involving everyone equally in shared activities. Autistics tend to interpret inclusion as having equal opportunities to take part in shared activities at their choosing. Some NeuroTypicals try to include autistics in their activities (e.g. school, work, leisure, worship) as much as possible. Many autistics, however, find it challenging to manage the social demands that such efforts create, making it even harder for them to function effectively.

 

On the other hand, many autistics speak the language of inclusion, yet measure their success by how NeuroTypical they have become rather than how effectively they have made use of their autistic traits. Many autistics try to be typically mediocre rather than extraordinary exemplary, to be a shadow of someone that they can never be rather than the best version of who they already are.

It is not wrong to find ways to develop our ability to understand NeuroTypicals, and to learn to adapt to NeuroTypical environments to advance our careers. What will create problems for us is to think that fakery is success, normality is excellence, and authenticity is irrelevant.

We often say that autistics are differently-abled and not disabled. I wish to correct that to say that autistics are both differently-abled and disabled. Autistics live in a society that disables them. Though they are potentially able to develop their brand of abilities, NeuroTypicals have little clue how to do that. Instead, NeuroTypicals often think that the more autistics move towards typical mediocrity, the more successful they are.

It is up to each autistic to choose to resist the pressure to be normal and find their ways to become extraordinary because that is the only way out for us autistics to reclaim our true potential. Most autistics give up and become resentful pets of their caregivers, while their caregivers grudgingly count the costs of taking care of their ungrateful pets and worry about what happens after they pass on.

 

What both NeuroTypicals and autistics should do is make a deal with each other: Autistics should make their best effort to care for themselves, fulfil their social obligations and find meaning in life. NeuroTypicals should make their best effort to support autistics to explore and exploit their different abilities to achieve these three goals.

This deal works even if autistics are working from their own homes rather than meeting many people at some noisy office, factory, or restaurant. Given the suitable arrangement and strategy, social networking skills may be made irrelevant and spoken communication skills unnecessary. Being able to care for ourselves and find meaning while staying true to ourselves should be our true measure of success.