Commentary: People on the spectrum are not outcasts

Those with autism deserve others’ respect


  Most people wouldn’t catch your eye if they stood in a crowd. Most people pass through life without a second glance. But my sister is not most people.

  She is outgoing, kind, affectionate, hard-working and has a great sense of humor. Yet, she has spent her entire life set apart from everyone else, being treated like something strange, almost foreign.

  She is on the autism spectrum.

  People on the spectrum are often treated differently than most. Wherever they go, they are bound to be followed by stares, second glances and awkwardness.

  But I, being a sister to one such individual, see things differently.

  Whereas my sister may not notice the extra attention, I do.

  Every second look, open-mouthed stare and baby voice that my sister is greeted by feels like a slap in the face.

  People on the autism spectrum are people. They may look, act and express themselves differently, but they are just as human as the rest of us.

  It is difficult to understand the tremendous obstacles that those on the autism spectrum face.

  The simplest of tasks to most people can easily be one of the most difficult for someone like my sister.

  Yet despite the obvious challenges that those on the spectrum face, there is one characteristic that never always fails to catch my eye or impress me: innocence.

  Some of the most kind, hardworking and intelligent people I have ever met are autistic.

  Don’t let appearances fool you. These amazing individuals will surprise you with their sincerity, openness and love.

  This doesn’t just apply to people who are unfamiliar with the spectrum. It applies to everyone.

  To this day, I am continually surprised by my sister, who will go out of her way to do something for me.

  She will stand up for me without asking, offer to get me something when she goes out with her friends and spend time with me whenever she can.

  My sister goes to college, had a summer job, helps out around the house and hangs out with her friends.

  She has more in common with “normal” people than many would think.

 She is not the only one on the spectrum to share similarities with the rest of us.

  We categorize ourselves into different categories based off appearance.

  How we look, act, dress, talk, etc determines who we hang out with, what we do and so on and so forth.

  For this reason, autistic people tend to be socially isolated, as they make up a small percentage of the population.

  This subtle form of discrimination is disgusting, sickening, nauseating and unjust, to say the least.

  Nobody deserves to be treated as an outcast simply because they seem different.

 If autistic people are to be treated differently, let it be with love.

  Go out of your way to smile at them, say hi as you pass them and talk to them.

 The simple act of acknowledging someone, through something as tiny as eye contact, means the world to people who are invisible.