By Lani Jacobs
This article is part of My Plan Manager’s guest blogger series.
Why is it that people want others to fit so neatly into little boxes? Cubes. Categories. Why is it that every disability or ‘difference’ needs to have a level or degree?
Are the Levels of Autism really a true reflection of the struggles people have with ASD? Autism is a spectrum, yes, but it is not linear. It is a curvy line. People with ASD are referred to as ‘High Functioning’ or ‘Low Functioning’. Mostly that refers to a person’s ability to speak and behave according to society’s norms. However, people can be very ‘High Functioning’ in one aspect of their lives and very ‘Low Functioning’ in another.
One of the main characteristics of adults and especially women on the Spectrum, is masking. The ability to observe, mimic and hide their struggles. Somehow it has become acceptable for kids to have a diagnosis of ASD, but adults with ASD seem to be almost non-existent or at least invisible and not acknowledged. After all, they are grown-ups and should just cope, shouldn’t they? Admitting to having a diagnosis of ASD as an adult is like admitting to a mortal sin. In some workplaces that would exclude you from some opportunities and promotions and would make other people underestimate your ability and intelligence.
Isn’t it time that we realise that HUMANITY is a spectrum? We come in all shapes, sizes, colours, abilities, talents, strengths, and weaknesses. Do any of those things really matter? Do we need to make people fit in boxes in order to accept and accommodate them? Let us make kindness and compassion a spectrum. Let us NOT squash those into little boxes but make them essential criteria for being human.
My young son has opened my eyes to how cruel the world can be and how amazing people with disabilities can be. I love the Lateral nature of their (our) thinking. I love being involved in ventures like this blog, because I believe many people and kids are just uneducated. They simply do not know what to do with ‘different’ and so many people with disabilities feel so very alone. It will help to know there are others who struggle with the same things. I want to be a voice for those who feel they cannot speak.
Lani Jacobs is a late diagnosis adult with ASD and ADHD. She is a trained High School Teacher but works as a Teacher’s Aide (Learning Support Officer), where she supports kids with all sorts of disabilities and challenges. In her free time she also works as an Artist. She has a passion for people with invisible and visible disabilities and thinks a lot of the social difficulties faced by the Disabled Community are the result of the ignorance and lack of education of the broader community.