I was asked a question on social media last night along the lines of “tell me your perspective.”  I had to think about this. How do you explain to someone that you are the sum of you experiences when they want to focus on one aspect?

I firmly believe that everything that has been part of my life has shaped me into who I am today. Good, bad or indifferent I learned from whatever it was. Growing up with 3 siblings? Learned how to both walk away and blow raspberries. Forced into conformity in school? At the time, I didn’t mind. There were many of us in that position. Now…I wish I had known that they way I think is just fine. You may not understand it, but that’s not important. Well, it is because I need you to understand that different is not threatening to you.

That’s what all this comes down to in the end. When people run across something different, it challenges us to think. To look outside our zone. To try to understand new ideas. Some people are more adaptable to change than others. This is where the skill to know when to press an issue or when to tread lightly comes in handy. Alienating people rarely accomplishes anything.

My perspective on labels….they help people understand broad concepts. They are dangerous when people assume that the label limits the possibilities. They are dangerous when people assume everyone in that category will act exactly the same. So, helpful to quantify, sort or understand. Harmful when you assume a label is the answer.

My perspective on living with Autism? I have my own set of challenges. While I could run down a checklist, the reality is each challenge is truly my own. It’s something I must understand and learn to live with. These are my circumstances. When you think about Autism as part of a person, you begin to understand that it doesn’t define people any more than having brown hair does.

When you change your hair from brown to blond, it eventually changes back to brown because that color is part of you. Trying to force an Autistic into your idea of “normal” brings change in the short-term. In the long-term, the person will return to their “normal.”

Your challenge: Acceptance. Diversity is a good thing. The world is a whole lot smaller now than it was even twenty years ago. We can all learn from each other. While it may be a struggle, or even painful, we must learn as a society to stop fearing “different.”

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