On Monday I had the post The Power of One. In it I stated that it is important that everyone should be aware and have understanding of the autism spectrum, but all it takes is one person to be ignorant of it to create an issue.
While writing that post I said that anyone and everyone can be an advocate for the autism spectrum. I think my line was, "even if it's just 10-15 seconds..." Okay, here's the thing, I got several comments as well as e-mails asking what, exactly, can be said in such a short amount of time?
To be perfectly honest, I've spent a good amount of time trying to come up with that answer. My presentations can go for 90 minutes, my book is tens of thousands of words long, but when in the crunch of the moment and there's just a sentence or two, what can be said?
Something, of course, has to be said. The true power of one is in all of us to make awareness a reality. But, what to say? Do we cover sensory? Social issues? Or do we mention that if they've met just one person with autism they've only met one person with autism? The answer, I believe, can't be a static one because, "If I've met one person who doesn't know about autism then I've only met one person who doesn't know about autism."
In Monday's post I mentioned the guy at the Salt Lake City airport who said, "I don't know about autism..." The original story was The 100 Gate Dash and I'm going to use that as an example. What actually happened was I heard that and turned away, but let's say I got to relive it. What would I do differently? The first thing I would do would be to ask, "Oh, you don't know anything about autism?" I feel, from experience, if I can get the person to ask about it the talking process is easier. In other words I'm putting the burden on them because who wants to admit that they know nothing about something? This one question, I feel, may extend the 10-15 second window to 25-30.
Once the foot is in the door, what then? If the airport man would have taken my bait I would have said something like this, "Well, I have a form of autism called Asperger Syndrome. It makes me more sensitive to the world that we live in." At this point in time I might have pointed out a faint noise to see if he could hear it. Continuing on, "Sometimes I need more help than others to get by in this world, but often times I ask people at the wrong times for help. We aren't all that professional when socializing so if I asked you for help locating my gate, I'm sorry, but when I worry about something it is the worst feeling in the world. I'm sure when you worry too it isn't good, but for those of us with autism everything is amplified. To put it simply, autism is life unfiltered."
That's what I would say and I would also like to point out that "Life Unfiltered" is most likely going to be the name of my 4th book when it gets released (that is still probably four or more years away). So yes, that's what I would have said in that moment had I not been in the state I was in, but each situation is going to be fluid and ever changing.
I'd like your opinion; if you had just a brief amount of time to explain it to someone who has no idea about autism what would you want to tell them? Of course I'd like the world to hear every word I say and read every word written by every writer on the spectrum, but that probably isn't going to happen. With that being said, what would you say?