BEWARE: I am in full rant mode right now, and my tongue is explosive. No holds barred. Anything goes. Consider yourself warned.
Last week I worked as a substitute in an autistic classroom, at a school for special needs, of adult students ages 20-26. Their speech levels ranged from nonverbal to hyperverbal. Before I left the building for the day, I decided that I would prefer to associate myself with people in the special needs community, especially autism, over the so-called normal people anytime.
Special: Unusual, unique, exceptional, better. In other words, different from the usual.
Normal: Typical, standard, or what’s expected
So why would I prefer autism over normal? Well, the entire time that I was inside the school, not just in the classroom, but as I walked through the building interacting with other staff and students:
- I didn’t see or hear anyone poke fun at someone else
- There was no gossiping
- There were no cliques
- I didn’t hear the ‘R’ word (retarded is not in my household’s vocabulary)
- Everyone minded their own business
- Intelligent conversations
- Extremely smart
- Problem solvers
So how does that compare to so-called normal people? Come on now, do I really need to go there? Since this is a ranting blog post, I’m definitely going there.
As I look back over my K-12 school years, college, and now the workplace, I can see why special needs is called just that, special. Look at my bulleted list above. Isn’t that amazing?
Now let’s take a look at my list of qualities of a normal person.
This list is nowhere near finished, but I just got home from work and I’m tired. Otherwise, I would type until my fingers get numb.
Can you see why I prefer to associate myself with autistic individuals? There was a hyperverbal student with a superhero obsession. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a lifelong comic book nerd, so I was excited to talk with him. But what I didn’t know was that he was allowed to talk about superheroes at snack time only. He knew it, but as one of the other teachers said, “They know the new people!”
The students made Valentine’s Day cards. The handwriting of one of the students’ was perfect, as if she used a ruler and a stencil. Everything on the inside and outside of that card was positioned perfectly.
I would go on with my bragging about the students at that school, but I don’t want to make us normal people jealous.
My 8 year-old son is a special needs child. He has a rare condition called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC). Those with the disease have a range of issues, including autism.
My son is also autistic. At one point he lost his speech, but he regained it a few years later. I met several students at that school, that reminded me of my son. He is verbal, loud, make sounds, has behavior challenges, and other issues. But, my son is intelligent. His obsessions are trains, geography, and numbers (including dates and years).
My son also holds mature and highly intelligent conversations. Last school year, I closely observed his interaction with one of his classmates at the bus stop every morning. He eventually stopped talking to that child, because his responses weren’t good enough for my son. He’s like that with adults too. If you can’t hold a mature and intelligent conversation, then he will have nothing to do with you.
I kept to myself when I was in school. I was on the honor roll, and I participated in sports and other activities. I was quiet and shy. I had specialty classes in math and science, and most of the students I associated with, when I did talk, were quiet in nature like myself. No gossiping. No poking fun at others. No cliques. No jealousy. Intelligent conversations. We minded our own business.
Hmmm, am I special? I don’t know, but with the definitions I provided above, and all the smack I ranted about in this blog post, I would say that I am special. And guess what? I don’t care.