The other day I was doing some research and came across some interesting material that addressed a point I had pondered long ago. I was working in a mental health facility and saw many people who were placed there to change some "problem behaviors". Alot of these people seemed to me to be just average people who had behaviors that were not outrageous. They simply didn't flow with what society saw as "normal". Whether the behavior was due to extreme circumstances, chemical inbalances or "personality disorders", our job was to assist them in changing the behavior. It made me wonder why we were trying to hard to change people and mold them into what society wanted when they just wanted to be their own person. We were telling them all about having a healthy self esteem while asking them not to be themselves.

As a result of this, I remember telling one of my friends that sometimes I just wanted to tell these people to "enjoy their mental illness". I wasn't kidding. Who ever changed the world by going with the flow? do you have any idea how many famous people from the past would have been heavily medicated if they were alive today? Who are we to say that what the books refer to as "normal" is all that we present it to be?

Which brings me to my point. When I was reading the other day, I came across some letters from those with autism. Not one of those letters presented any urge for change. In fact, some of them were grateful for their autism because it helped them to stay focused on whatever they were interested in. They were calling people without autism "normals" and didn't seem very impressed with normals.

The jist of most of the letters was this; having autism makes you look at people differently. When a "normal" communicates with another person, we try to empathize with them by finding some common ground and sometimes even taking on the traits of the other person. People with autism don't do this and in point of fact cannot do this due to what we call a lack of social skills. They call it being themselves. The letters that I have read expressed joy in being able to retain their own personality without adapting traits from anyone else. They were proud to be who they were. So why mess with them? Because their behavior is likely disturbing to their caretakers. It seems odd. So they try to "fix it". I say those with autism are happy, then simply subject them to the same laws as everyone else and leave them to their own devices. In other words, no its not ok to hurt someone because you have violent fits due to autism. But if you want to spend an hour assembling and disassembling a piece of equipment because it interests you or calms you down, then go for it.


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