My daughter, Kylie, was asked to write a speech and speak in front of the school for Saxons Celebrate Autism Awareness at her school this past week . The following is the speech she prepared and spoke. B is my nephew and Kylie’s cousin. She was given a standing ovation for this speech.
Think about puzzle pieces for a second.
Did you? Liars, no candy for you.
This time, actually think about it.
If I gave you a random puzzle piece, would you be able to tell me where it goes?
Because it’s supposed to fit……somewhere.
Anywhere, though? No, it’s just one little fragment specific to one mysterious belonging place.
Puzzle pieces symbolize autism; it’s a representation of the disorder. Much like the color pink represents breast cancer.
But what is autism?
No one is really 100% sure about that, hence the mysterious puzzle piece.
The disorder isn’t easily defined, understood, or placed.
Sometimes the face of autism is sensitive and outgoing like my brother, Ty.
- Me: “I love me.”
- Ty: “I love you too.”
- Ty: “You’re just a baby, a kid.”
- Me: “What? I remember when you were born!”
- Ty: “Because it was the best day of your life.”
But…he was under proficient in learning and development.
Our family thought that he was colorblind because he didn’t seem to be able to differentiate between colors.
Just this weekend I asked him how old he was. He said, “eight, I think,” without holding up his fingers and counting them like he usually does.
In other situations autism is quiet, detached, and advanced, like B.
As a one year old, B could identify all capital letters and single digit numbers in any given context. (#HumbleBrag Now, at 3 years old, he can count to 112.) I asked my grandmother if I was as smart as him when I was a baby. She said “No.”
B didn’t talk very much, at all, even as he grew older. He missed some developmental check marks, abnormal signs such as late childhood development, excessive literal tendencies, and speech abnormalities, such as anomalous depth or monotone.
As in, my 8-year-old brother has a deeper voice than some freshmen boys.
Autism is a spectrum disorder.
Communication difficulties, impairment of fine motor skills, clumsiness, sensory discomfort, and social impairment are general affectations endured by children and adults on the more fortunate end of the spectrum.
Why do I ask you to care?
Why should anyone here with no personal investment desire to pick up the pieces or even just ponder where they belong?
You probably don’t care about a reflection of humanity conveyed through human manifestations of innocence and imperfection, which many autistic people are.
Yet…despite this general disinvolvement, everyone here could tell me what it’s like to feel clueless, clutzy, uncomfortable, or rejected.
We’re all other people in the eyes of others, but everyone is similar and equal, harboring feelings and a personality; even the ones who seem…different.
This is the point. Here lies the relevance.
If you think what is equal to what anyone else thinks, then symmetrically the thoughts of anyone else are equivalent to yours.
So, treat every thought like it matters.
Every person; autistic, psychotic, pedantic, joyous, melancholy, or even flat out uninteresting deserves respect.
No one deserves to be made fun of because they can’t read, like Ty, or excluded from group activities, like little B.
So….even if you don’t know where the puzzle pieces fit, even
If it confuses you, or you really don’t care, treat it like it matters.
Because it does.
We are all weird and a little creepy.
We all have unfortunate flaws that beg to be forgiven.
Every time you’re being nice to someone who just doesn’t seem to get it, or is odd, or repulses you; you’re being nice to yourself.
It’s like that one song; “We are the world…..we are the children….we are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving…..we’re saving our own lives.”
Respecting the difficulties faced by those affected by autism can help us respect the differences in everyone around us.