#5: Autism and Humanity

How do great leaders inspire change? Through watching Sinek’s Ted Talk, I thought it was interesting how much emphasis he put on “why”. Change is about belief, following our dreams, and holding that question of “why?” in ourselves. You attract those who believe what you believe. To be a great leader, you must start with belief.

Going into this week, I was especially excited about learning what others around the world have done to create change around autism. The first place I decided to look into was the success of the documentary Wretches and Jabberers, which was what spurred my interest in autism many years ago. The goal of the film was to shed light on autism globally, with a special focus on individual gifts and intelligence. It follows the story of 2 autistic men (from Vermont!), who traveled to Sri Lanka, Japan, and Finland to bring awareness and to meet others on the autism spectrum. The documentary has done very well, and I believe is one of the best ways of spreading information. Through my research, I also found out that April 2nd is world autism day. Around that, last year, a group called Autism Speaks came up with the idea of “Light it up Blue”, which consisted of lighting up different special places blue (or dressing in blue, etc), in order to show support of autistic people. The goal was to increase acceptance and understanding of autistic people. In the end, over 150 countries participated. But this was something I hadn’t heard of, and neither had my parents. Although the idea was important, the overall effect was more geared toward political groups and cities, where large monuments are.

Why? Autism is a teacher of humanity and of how we view and treat each other, especially those who are “different”. We are all human, which is a truth we have questioned since long ago, and which has played a prevalent role in our lives, with black people through the civil war, as well as issues now of who “gay” and “queer” people are. These are times when we ask: What does it mean to be human? Does what you look like, or the way your body works, affect who you are? If we are all human, how do we decide treat each other, and especially ourselves? Creating a label for autism is both a blessing and an issue, because when we label something, we often judge. Sometimes just being open to where others are at is more important than putting us all into categories. Autism is a teacher of both loving everyone around you and being present and open to life.

How? Bring awareness to people of all ages, to promote being curious and accepting of ourselves and others. Look for gifts in everyone instead of seeing the negative. Help people remember that we are all human, and it’s all right to include all. Being different is special.

What? Open the everyday people to seeing autistic people as gifts to the world, and encourage all to be curious.

                           Wurzburg, Gerardine, director. Wretches & Jabberers. Wretches & Jabberers, State of the Art, Inc, 2010, www.wretchesandjabberers.org/.                          

                           Speaks, Autism. “Light It Up Blue.” Autism Speaks, Autism Speaks, 3 Apr. 2017, www.autismspeaks.org/liub.                          

Photo by Tony Palmer

Aidan Palmer

4 Responses to “#5: Autism and Humanity

  • Aidan:
    I’ve never seen the documentary you mention in your blog post. You’ve piqued my interest! And who knew there was a National Autism Day? Thanks for sharing some of these anecdotes.

    I’m interested in knowing where humans’ initial aversion to difference comes from? Is it innate, or is it learned? I’m currently teaching a unit in my class about “the other” and the ways in which we create and perpetuate difference with those we deem different from ourselves. Your topic, and your great thinking on your topic, have made me wonder: why do human beings do this?

    The reason I’m asking these questions is that I think it might be interesting to come at your topic from a psychological or sociological perspective. Some psychological and sociological research could add a whole new interesting dimension to your topic, offering some greater context for the ways in which we “other” people who are so very different from us.

    In any case, I am still loving your topic and think it has a lot of potential.

    • Hi Ben,
      Thanks for the comments! It’s very interesting thinking about why we are so averted to other people, and whether it was learned or natural. Also, I wonder how much of this is surface thoughts and how important that it compared with our inner knowing. There is a place for both! I am definitely going to learn more about this. It’s something that spikes my interest. Thank you for the questions!
      I enjoy hearing what you are hearing from my writing and your suggestions for what might be interesting! Thank you for reading all of my blog posts!

  • Avery Murray-Gurney
    6 years ago

    Hi Aidan!
    I think everything you’ve said about WHY you’re doing this is super interesting. You ask a lot of really good questions about how people are treated, and I think they’ll lead to really interesting work.
    One thing that I have heard about that you might want to look into: I don’t know much about this but I’ve heard that lots of people (specifically autistic people) don’t support autism speaks. Perhaps that might be interesting to look into.

    • Hi Avery,
      Thanks for the suggestions! I have seen a few articles on the internet about why people don’t support autism speaks, but I didn’t think much about it. It’s a good point, and now I’m curious about why people are against it.
      Thanks for the feedback, I have found it all very helpful. I’m glad my point is coming across through the writing.


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