Day Three: One-Word Inspiration
For this assignment I have chosen the word Underestimate as my one word inspiration.
When my son was first diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of four I feared worst case scenario. I imagined his future and assumed all the things he would never be able to do or achieve. As time went on I began to learn how wrong I’d been to assume these things. I had underestimated my son’s capabilities and I’d underestimated autism.
At the beginning of our own autism journey I didn’t know autism and I didn’t understand it’s potential. Alas, I suspect that this is the case for most people who have no first hand knowledge of autism. It’s understandable of course, but the shame of it is that it means that both autistic children and autistic adults are persistently underestimated by society in general.
Take employment for example. The statistics for the number of unemployed autistic adults make for depressing reading. Autistic people are just as likely to have skills that are valuable in the workplace as non-autistic people but their skills are often underestimated. Why? I believe that one of the main reasons is because the interview process is naturally biased in favour of non-autistic people. Potential employers are likely to underestimate the actual skills an autistic person has because they don’t see beyond the ‘awkwardness’ or ‘quirkiness’ of the interaction that takes place in an interview setting. A standard interview situation plays straight to all the weakest skills of an autistic person and doesn’t allow for their strengths to be showcased.
On the flip side of the coin, I think that the non-autistic world often underestimates the depth and nature of the challenges that an autistic person has to manage in life particularly where the autistic person has learnt how to mask their inner self and mimic neurotypical behaviours in order to assimilate.
I’m just skimming the surface and over simplifying the issues I’ve touched on here (it was either that or writing a thesis length post! 😉 ) but these are my initial thoughts in response to the word prompt.