Sun In Your Eyes
Let’s take away one of your senses. We’ll start with sight. You’re standing outside on a bright sunny day and you cannot see. Complete darkness. You can’t even see the brightness through your eyelids. What is your experience versus someone who can fully see? Since I am a seeing person, I have to imagine the experience of what it would be like if I completely lost that sense. So let’s imagine together.
The knowns are that I am outside. How would I know what type of day it is out without my sense of sight? Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin. I utilize my sense of touch to feel this sensation. I have learned throughout my life the warm feeling of the sun against my skin. My sense of hearing can help me sense people talking about the sun and birds chirping as they do on a pleasant day. The air tastes and smells dry, which would indicate a sunny say versus a rainy day but is only one possible indicator that the sun is out. So, while I cannot see, my other senses compensate to allow me to know that the sun is out.
However, those other senses can be fooled. Perhaps I am standing near a heater and the sense of warmth I feel on my skin is not the sun. It is possible people could be lying about the fact that the sun is out. Birds chirp in rain just as often as sun. The air may smell and taste dry but the clouds could be out in full force. As we can see, my other senses can be fooled and I may make the incorrect assumption based on my inability to get that visual confirmation of the sun.
Was that difficult to understand? I feel it is reasonable for most of us to understand that not having or having a weakened sense can cause us to miss information that others may easily have access to. Now let’s look at the Autism Spectrum. A person with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) has a social and communicative disability. In my imagined example above, I had a visual disability. Now if I were on the autism spectrum, I would have a social disability.
No disability makes us less. But it does mean we lack or have a weakened sense compared to many around us. With ASD, perhaps my other abilities overcompensate just like my other senses did when I couldn’t see. For example, I may have average to high intelligence as a compensator for lesser social understanding. Perhaps I can memorize vast amounts of information which can help me get through situations with my knowledge rather than my weaker social “gut” feelings. Still, these other strong senses can be fooled. Perhaps I do not understand the concept of lying and believe people when they tell me things that are untrue. Or maybe I am considered rude by many because I point out obvious facts that may be sensitive for some to accept so bluntly. It is also possible that I am reprimanded for working slower on a project because I am processing so many facts and struggle with seeing the bigger picture.
Interestingly, when it is put that way it seems to be very easy to understand ASD. Why then are so many shunned and bullied? Why is it unacceptable to have a social disability? Why do so many continue to bully adults and children on the spectrum because of their very real struggle? I would argue that any intelligent person can learn more about this disability and what it means for people and learn not only to accept but understand and embrace it so that we can all grow together as a whole and complete society. You see, even if you have full vision, the sun directly in your eyes can blind you.