I like the idea of taking people with all different perspectives and having them work together. Each person having their own individual ideas all their own and offering them up. In that type of environment, possibilities would be endless. In reality, I lived in a world where everyone seemed to have the same answer to a question and I was the one with something different to offer. In this situation, I felt like my answer was always incorrect. Which may have explained, me being selectively mute. My differing voice didn’t seem to belong for a long time. I felt unheard and shut down for a lot of my younger years. It was hard to believe that I could have a correct answer when it felt like the entire world thought of one singular answer that was always different to mine.

I have heard others compliment those of us who are on the spectrum by saying how smart we are to come up with such intelligent answers. From my side of things, it’s way more often that the world around me has the more intelligent answers because I could never think up what it feels like the rest of the world knows.

I realize that I have been vague. So let’s break down some of the actual questions that I am answering. “How are you?” I don’t even know how to begin breaking down this question. Are you asking about my health? Are you asking about my feelings? Are you asking about this second how I am feeling? Are you asking how I have mostly been feeling this past day? This past week? Are you asking what events have transpired that are important to me? Do you just want me to say the polite “good” and just move on? I have never received an explanation that makes much sense. How does most of the world know exactly what to do when they are posed this question?

There is this question I used to pose as one of those party tricks. I would ask someone to close their eyes and listen- behind you is the sound of hooves, Click Clack, Click Clack, What kind of animal is it? The most common response is horse while the autistic answer is often deer. So if you are in a group of 10 people and without seeing the animal, everyone else but you has said horse. It is hard to to stay strong and hold your answer to be true, even though it is just as possible. It feels like the rest of the world knows something you don’t.

Putting yourself into my shoes and then extending these few questions over life experience- you can see how someone with autism can get into their head that they are stupid. Their confidence could plummet. Their voice could suddenly seem invalid. You’ll see young kids stop answering question and begin to say “I know” or “whatever” to avoid having to say anything incorrectly.

Just for a minute, try to understand that the world is often telling those of us with autism that we are wrong. We get so many nos, can’t, and nevers. Start being one of the few voices that say yes, you can, you will. Be the voice that validates, let’s change the world for the better. Let’s start listening to answers that don’t match our own and hear them out just as equally from the minority as the majority.

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