So my life revolves around autism or maybe autism revolves around me. Whichever it is, autism is a huge part of my life. I can’t escape it and I have accepted that.
So as it goes, I was at he Walking Dead premiere and the man who sat in front of me had an eye patch on. At first I thought it might be a Woodbury reference, but he wasn’t in costume. Either way, he looked like he belonged at a walking dead event.
He turned and smiled at me and said he had a service dog too and that his eye patch wasn’t just for show. He asked me about my service dog and why I needed him. So I told him about my autism. He said, “I’m glad you have the dog. Not about the autism, I’m sorry about the autism.”
I’ve heard how upset people have been by the “I’m sorry you have autism.” But I’ve never heard someone say that to me before. I replied with “it’s okay. I like that I have autism. It gives me superpowers.” He laughed and we moved on.
Well he did. I sat with that for a while. I didn’t know how to feel about his words. Today, I’ve realized that his words validated more than they offended. He came from a place of ignorance. So he doesn’t know everything about autism, not enough to make a judgment on whether to feel sorry for me. But he did understand that it is a struggle. And that is rare.
I’ve come across way more people who say, “just toughen up” or worse, question if I truly do have autism.
His apology credited that I do have autism and then validated how difficult it is. Now of course it also swept away all the wonderful gifts that autism has bestowed upon me.
I could focus on that negative, but that wasn’t the meaning the man was trying to convey. In his view he lost something, which led him to need a dog. His perspective is that of difficulty and hardship. I’m sure he couldn’t see much good of losing an eye. So he assumed my autism was the same, and that’s okay.
He sees the world how he sees it. And I see it differently… because I have autism and he doesn’t. His intention was to be kind. So I’m going to take that kindness and move on and watch some zombies and humans go to all out war.