Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Autism Answer: Inclusion Please, Because I'm Self-Centered and a Little Bit Selfish


Some of my family taking a break during a hike

Look, there are a lot of reasons I advocate for a more inclusive and visibly diverse world. I want my brothers (who have various disabilities and challenges) to know there are places for them in society where they can grow their talents while having uncommon challenges and reactions to things. I want my sons (who are a variety pack of colors and sexual orientations) to see romance, relationships, and success around them in so many different styles they can't help but know they, too, can create something that works for them and will be welcomed in the world. I want so many more things of this nature for the people I love as well as people I don't know but would probably also choose to love.
I am interrupting my program with this important message: Watch Living with Lynette to see inclusion in action!
However, I confess something. The more I think about how the world could change for people I love if it was more inclusive and diverse, the more I want it for me. The more I want it for my own challenges and reactions. 
I want to see and read what it is to live with all these things I don't understand so I can learn how to best be kind. I don't want to always put others in the position of teaching me how to be kind to them; I want to watch it all in action and have ample opportunities to learn.
Show me stutters and tics, and let me feel more comfortable around them so I can be kinder. Let me read stories from minds that work against themselves or in extremes, so perhaps I can have a perspective that grows my ability to be around more people. I want more stories of romance and sexual exploration with people who have sensory challenges or physical limitations so I can anticipate the beauty of my own aging and physical changes and normalize the very wonderful skill of communicating ourselves to our partners. 
There is more. But you see what I'm confessing here, right? That I am self-centered and a bit selfish.
When I was younger I thought my mom was crazy for believing the world should make room for my brothers. I mean, what the heck? They were not like anyone anywhere and who wants to figure it all out? Then I got less mean and realized, dang. Mom is right and I am a mean, mean, mean sister. I started getting to know my brothers rather than only think of them as people to help mom keep an eye on and I realized, they are people with harder for me to understand challenges, but they have no less and no more right to a fulfilling life than me. So I started working with my mom and asking the world to be more inclusive, for the sake of them. 
Or, I thought it was for them. But I am a self-centered girl and, actually, I'm beginning to notice it is - yes -for the sake of my family but more for the sake of me. If my family is accepted I am free to stop doing the work of asking them to be accepted. But, admittedly, more than that if the world is more inclusive and diverse I will not feel as much pressure to know how to be around people who are drastically different. Because I will have seen and read and experienced enough of it to be able to figure it out with more ease and less pressure. 
I won't feel as much like, "This is your chance to prove you know how to be around difference so get it right, lady." Because, well, the world will give me more opportunities to see and experience disabilities and differences. 
So, yes. Please. If you are willing to put yourself out there, if you are willing to write, be a guest expert on a talk show, star in a movie, rock out in a music video, anything at all where we can see you and interact with you and learn what interactions you like best and why, I would appreciate it. Whoever you are. 
I confess, I want it because I'm self-centered and a little bit selfish. I want it for my sake. 
But I also think it will benefit other people. So if that makes me sound nicer, let that be the take away.