Autistic Autonomy 

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The Social Learning Theory basically suggests that people learn by watching other people do things. Typically, we observe and imitate others’ behaviors. This is seen with in almost every facet of society, from adults at a bar for the first time to toddlers in the toy kitchen.

But what do we do when there are people who can be in the same room as other people or even be very physically close to them and not notice them at all? What do we do when  there are people who have to be taught how to observe behaviors? Why do we feel like we have to teach them to be like us?

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with people on the autism spectrum. A few of them are labeled as “non-verbal” so my definition of communication has been stretched more than I thought possible. I’ve had to learn to understand what that longing look means. It has taken work to figure out why they smile when they hear certain sounds.

It is interesting how much external motivation plays a role in our everyday behaviors. I never realized that until I wanted to motivate a child who didn’t notice me in the room. It left me frustrated at the beginning until I reevaluated the situations. After changing my perception and my focus, I gained an appreciation for their ability to completely escape whenever they want to. I learned to be comfortable when they distanced themselves when they were only sitting a foot away.

In reality, I wasn’t frustrated because the kids didn’t listen. I was frustrated because I wish I could live in a world where no one could influence me to do or be something I didn’t want to do or be.

So many times I have done and said things or NOT done or said things because of the social implications of being rude for not speaking or for speaking.

I’m the educator and I have been all of my post pubescent life. I always learn from my babies. So, I’m taking a page from my newest children. I will do what I want. I will not do what I don’t want, regardless of social implications.

I’m looking for the autistic autonomy.

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Love First

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Prostitute, crack whore, crackhead, felon, criminal, thug, alcoholic, bum, pimp, fag, slut, fat, skinny, crazy, bipolar, schizo… Behind every label is a person with a heart, with a life, with blood, with a story. A person who may never learn to really live and love because you can’t see past the exterior. 

I went to a human trafficking forum earlier this week and my one sentence summary of the entire event is “See people for who they are not what they do because there’s more to the equation than the result.”

Before you judge, love first.

  

It’s rude to YOU, not to them, because it’s normal there.

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Different cultures do and accept different things. Seems obvious, right? But for most people it isn’t.

During my freshman year of college, I was conversing with two friends about a proposal that was on the table at my school. A group of students wanted to make all the restrooms unisex so that transgendered students wouldn’t have to be forced to go to restrooms they didn’t feel comfortable in because of their outer appearances. My friends were completely against the idea of unisex bathrooms.

“So Claricha,” my male friend started, “you’d be okay with me being in the bathroom while you’re taking a shower?” He asked.
“No, because I’d be naked. But that’s totally different from you peeing in a stall next to mine. You guys only think it’s weird because you’ve grown up that way. If the norm was unisex bathrooms, you would think it was weird to have them separated by sex.” All these years later that conversation popped in my head when I was in Israel and this happened.

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Wouldja look at that? A unisex bathroom and nobody bats an eye because it’s normal there.

**Enter an ear piercing scream here**
That’s what one of the ladies I was on the trip let out when a stray cat rubbed against her leg while we were eating at an indoor restaurant.
We all laughed at her. The others at the restaurant didn’t even notice the cat because it’s normal there.

Speaking of restaurants, I went out with some others last night and got some yummy ice cream. We sat down at the tables outside of the sandwich place next door. We were asked to leave though. Why? “Milk and meat, it’s not kosher.” You can’t have dairy products served with meat. Crazy. You’ll never be able to have a cheeseburger or a chicken caesar salad with Parmesan cheese. That’s so weird to me, but it’s normal there.

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No milkshakes with my McChicken?! Malarkey!

I wanted to take a pic every time I saw a smoker especially the one who couldn’t have been older than 13 or the ones smoking in the restaurant. But I didn’t because no one else was taking pics of them. Because it’s normal there.

In America, we have all kinds of initiatives making smoking in public illegal because we don’t want our rights to clean air infringed upon by others. In fact, we think it’s rude when people do that. So as we walked through different cities in Israel, I heard a few people comment on how rude it was for the smokers to smoke in restaurants or near others. But guys, you have to remember it’s rude to YOU, not to them because it’s normal there.