The Spirit of Inclusion

Inclusion is not so much about including those who are different into all our daily activities, but the automatic acceptance of our own 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 ultimate goal of Inclusion.

In other words, being inclusive does not mean that everyone has to 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 of types of people to work together in the same place is actually not respecting their different preferences. It is better to let both of them 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 participate in shared activities at their own choosing. Some NeuroTypicals try to include autistics in their own activities (e.g. school, work, leisure, worship) as much as possible. Many autistics, however, find it challenging to handle 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, but yet measure their own success by how NeuroTypical they have become rather than how effectively they have made use of their own autistic traits. Many autistics seek 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 in order to advance our own careers. What will create problems for ourselves is to think that fakery is success, normality is excellence, 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 own 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 own 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 caretakers, while their caretakers grudgingly count the costs of taking care of their ungrateful pets and worry about what happens after they themselves 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, fulfill 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 lots of people at some noisy office, factory or restaurant. Given the suitable arrangement and strategy, social networking skills may be rendered 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.