An Autistic Child on Being Different

Friday, apropos of nothing, my son announced:

“I would rather everybody else in the world have three eyes than just me have three eyes. That way, people won’t ask me questions I can’t answer.”

I have a built-in autism spectrum decoder, so I’ll re-phrase his message:

“I want to be like everyone else because I don’t know how to explain my differences.” Or simpler yet, “If I could explain myself, I wouldn’t mind being different.”

My six-year-old son cannot explain how or why he is different.

Humanity is not homogeneous. We are each a string of differences.  Different sizes, shapes, skin colors, religions, political views, and different mental wiring. While categories help us conceptualize differences, civility flourishes when we accept every person individually.

Educate yourself about differences, even the ones that frighten you. Perhaps we can’t all live together in harmony, but we can halt an uncivilized avalanche of hurt and blame.

One day my son will understand himself well enough to educate others.  I urge the adults in this world to look upon children with compassion and hope.

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