To Those Who Say They ‘Get’ My Autism Because They Know Someone on the Spectrum

“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

I’m not sure if people don’t understand that phrase very well, or if it’s quickly forgotten.

Each and every single person on this planet is different. Where you find people with similarities, you’ll find those people also have massive differences. Between your interests, the foods you eat, your health, family, schooling, religion, parenting styles, ambition — there are so many things you could potentially have in common or not in common with another person.

And that’s a good thing! It’s what makes this world amazing! It’s what keeps life from getting boring. It’s what helps inspire others.

It’s the same with autism. We are not all the same, and it’s ridiculous to think that we are. We may have similar characteristics, have something in common — but besides being on the spectrum, we may have absolutely nothing else in common.

Some people on the spectrum might have the ability to talk, and others need help communicating. Some might have severe anxiety. Or have severe sensory issues, where even soft clothing with no tags can feel like sand paper against their skin. Another may need deep pressure, or to constantly feel textures because their body says they need it in order to feel OK.

So my child on the spectrum may be completely opposite of someone else’s child on the spectrum. Which is OK! That’s life. But we shouldn’t shame others or say ugly things to people because what we imagine autism to be isn’t the case for someone else.

Everyone’s experience with autism can be unique.

And while I appreciate people trying to understand autism and be more aware, your cousin’s friend’s brother who has autism probably isn’t going to end up being the same as me or my kids who are on the spectrum. So you might not “get it.” It’s really about the wording we’re using.

But you know what you can say?

“My cousin’s friend’s brother has autism, and I think that’s pretty cool. He’s a really great kid. What’s autism like for you? I’d like to learn more.”

I don’t know too many people who would turn down the opportunity to raise some awareness and share a bit about themselves or their children.

Lastly, for those who feel the need to compare and contrast people and kids on the spectrum and then belittle others for disagreeing or having a different experience, the rule applies to you, too.

Stop comparing. It’s fun to find similarities, but stop disputing the differences. Everyone is different.

If you’ve met one person on this earth — you’ve met one person on this earth.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us one thing your loved ones might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. What would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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