When a Classmate in College Called Me ‘Rain Man’


Do you know that I was once called Rain Man by a classmate in college? Wow. I was furious. When I look back at why anyone would say something like that, I think of some of the stereotypes about autism. Some think people with autism lack social interaction, and others think people with autism are good at math.

In the 1988 movie “Rain Man,” actor Dustin Hoffman plays a character who is autistic and is good with numbers, but he also lacks some communication skills. Because of the popularity of this movie and because autism was still very unknown during its release, it became, for better or for worse, a characterization of what autism could be.

But you know what the problem is here? I’m autistic and I’m nothing like Rain Man. I’m now an adult with great verbal communication skills, I’m not as good in math and the differences keep piling up.

You see, autism is very broad. No one diagnosis is the same, and therefore, when we think of Rain Man, we must think of Rain Man as only Rain Man. He is one symbol of the countless symbols of real people out there who have autism. I think that’s what makes our autism community great. We all are unique in our own way, and we all have the opportunity to have our “voices” heard.

Sometimes that voice is not a verbal one. Sometimes, it’s heard through our art or music or some other skill or talent we have. Sometimes, it’s simply a smile for our family members. Each and every individual with autism is a new and unique symbol of what autism is today and will be for our future. So in keeping with the future, to those who are reading …

Please don’t call me Rain Man. Call me Kerry. Don’t think I’m bad at verbal communication because, in fact, in my own way, I’m great at communication. I’m getting a master’s degree in strategic communication to boot. Don’t think I’ll be ready to help when it comes to numbers because all I’m going to do is pass you a calculator. And, most importantly, just look at me as me. I’m Kerry and there is only one of me. Just like there is only one of you. Let’s embrace the fact that there will only be one Kerry Magro, just like there will only be one Rain Man. We write our own stories based on the biography of life which we are all living through right now.

Let’s make sure the chapters we’re writing are good ones by living it just the way we are. So please call me Kerry the next time you see me because that’s who I was always meant to be.

This post first appeared on KerryMagro.com.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

TOPICS
,
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Lamar and his son.

4 Tips for the Special Needs Parents We Don't Talk About

I am an avid reader. I read tons of books and even more blogs. As someone who considers himself to be a part of the special needs community, I read a lot of blogs about special needs families. Over the last two years, I’ve discovered there is a wealth of resources and reading material for [...]
Close-up of hands Using a Smart Phone

When a Facebook Post Made Me Realize I’m Not a ‘Superhero’ Special Needs Mom

A few years ago, my husband bought a t-shirt that read, “May your life someday be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook!” We laughed and laughed. Just about anyone with an active social media account can relate to that phrase, because we all have one or two friends whose posts seem out [...]
little boy in carseat

To the Hairdresser Who Took an Extra Step for My Son With Autism

I never expected the level of service you gave us. As a matter of fact, I was quite nervous when I called to schedule the appointment for my son. You see, we had just started going through the process for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) screening. And after his first haircut at your salon, I was prepared for [...]
Family walking down road through forest

Autism Is Not the Problem

Throughout the mainstream media, we are practically bombarded with different things that are claimed to “cause” autism: Vaccinations. Diet. Environment. Drugs during pregnancy. Birth types. Gut health. And you know what? I am absolutely sick of it. As a wife who is married to an autistic man and a mother of two autistic children, I know the reality of autism and [...]