Thursday, September 27, 2007

People Like Me Are...

I found an interesting quote today:

"As I got a little older, I saw people who moved and sounded familiar, like me in some fundamental way that other people were not. Inevitably they were being walked around in a line by staff, and coming from the nearby state institution or some of the group homes in the area. I found this ominous.
Part of the reason I ended up in institutions to begin with was my terror of ending up in one and my knowledge that given the way things seemed to work it must be inevitable sooner or later. There just were not people like me on the outside. And as the shifts of adolescence came around, what a person-like-me was, was unmasked to other people in more ways than one."

I've read that particular article before, but this time, this phrase really jumped out at me on a personal level.
I have a young autistic friend. He's considered severely disabled. For the first little while, he acted fascinated and delighted at me acting autistic (he's kind of gotten used to it by now). I thought at first it was just finding 'someone like him' or 'an adult like him' (although I don't think of myself as an adult, he probably does). But he definitely has contact with lots of other autistics, including in the very same setting I met him in. He may have met other autistic adult, I wouldn't be surprised if he has.
I wonder if what really fascinated him about me was that I was someone like him on the 'other side' of the helper/helped hierarchy that he is constantly experiencing (as one being helped). I suspect all the other autistics he's met have all been on the same side of that hierarchy as he is, all other recipients of similar kinds of help as he receives. Which means it might be that he was surprised that autistics can be helpers as well as the helped.
I can't know for sure if that's what he's thinking, of course. But it gives me another way of looking at him. He's the kind of person most people assume is unable to perceive or react to discrimination and hierarchies on this kind of conceptual level, but then, so is Amanda Baggs, and she wrote that article.

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