Hello everyone! I know it has been a very long time since my last blog post. Between computer issues, and the state of the world for the last year I felt out of place to write with everything going on. However, I am back to blogging and will update more regularly. We are working on exciting things, including webinars and online courses. I also know many of you are signed up for the newsletter which I am starting up again. If there are certain topics you would like to see please comment below.
I want to give insight about my experiences as an autistic person over the past year. The way our world functions completely changed seemingly overnight and just as quickly we are expected to go back to “normal” without any real accommodations or advice. It’s very interesting to me that the accommodations autistic people and other disabled people have asked to be implemented for years in the workplace and within society were created with no hesitation when all abled people were unable to access the world. This means that we can make accommodations and things more accessible, it’s just a matter of if society is willing to.
We should take what we have learned about curb side pickup, remote options for work and school, and use those to make these areas of life fully and permanently accessible to those who need those options. Make it a normal option so that we are not stretching educators thin in providing these services. It’s also important to reflect on the ways we failed certain communities that were unable to access anything during this time and determine how we can accommodate in the future.
Last year was also interesting in that it evened the playing field for me socially. Suddenly everyone was wearing masks and as a result unable to read facial expressions or recognize people easily. The very things I am never able to do. These struggles briefly gave neurotypical people a glimpse into what autistic people combat everyday.
For a moment in time I lived in a world where everyone was experiencing the same anxiety and struggles surrounding social cues and facial expressions. It made me feel less alone. So as society goes back to the way it was I ask that you remember those feelings. Remember how it was to not have the benefit of the nonverbal cues you took for granted. Remember what it was like having your routines disrupted and no knowledge of the future. Remember the anxiety of not being able to access public places without planning out alternative ways to go.
Because for you everything will go back to normal, but for me that is my normal. Remember, so that society as a whole can better empathize with autistic people in the future.
Access for me became easier unexpectedly the last year. Suddenly, there were fewer crowds in public spaces, people stayed 6 feet away from me, I didn’t have the expectation to read people’s faces. All of that is slowly going away now, but I hope that some of the relief I felt stays. I hope that society has seen how to become a more sensory-friendly place.
We have all learned so much and I am excited to see the changes to come. Thank you to the educators, essential workers, medical professionals, parents, and so many more from the bottom of my heart for your selflessness this past year.