Yesterday in class you said “Everyone in this class should be able to make at least a C, unless you’re autistic or something.” What exactly did you mean by that? Did you mean that the autistic students would be able to make A’s? I don’t think that’s what you meant and I think your statement was quite offending. I myself, am autistic. I have what’s called Asperger’s Syndrome. Being a psychology professor I would hope you know what Asperger’s is and that Autism is a huge spectrum. My son also has autism, along with millions of other children and adults in this world.
Your words reminded me of just how important it is to advocate and educate when it comes to autism. You see in my little world, everyone is accepting and knowledgeable about autism. I sometimes forget that there are people in this world who aren’t knowledgeable and assume all of us aren’t destined to be anything.
Your words reminded me of a school psychologist who told me that most schools don’t want to offer special needs kids therapy or the help they need because they view the children as people who will never be productive citizens, and therefore a waste of their money. The difference between this psychologist and you is that after she said this she then went into explaining how wrong they are and that the thinking of schools needed to be changed.
You on the other hand, said your statement and then giggled. You giggled that you had just used the word autism in that way. You have a class of 30 something students that you know NOTHING about. You have never met any of us before yesterday’s class. There is no telling how many people, besides myself that you offended.
In the heat of the moment I could not say anything to correct you. When I am embarrassed, mad, or flustered I tend to lose my speech. I held my breath and bit my tongue and went over your words a million times in my head. When I finally got home I vented about it to some awesome ASD bloggers. I was afraid reporting you, or speaking to you about it would cause you to dislike me and ruin my grade. I was then reminded that what you said was discrimination, and it is never acceptable.
A wise blogger pointed out that if you had said that same statement but replaced “autistic” with “black” or “white” or “woman” nobody would have hesitated to say anything to you, or report you to the dean. Yet, I hesitated, and I shouldn’t have. I should have stood up for myself, my son, and all the other people with autism.
I would hope being a psychology professor that you would know about the autism spectrum, but if you don’t, do not hesitate to ask me about it. In the future I hope you think before you speak.
Autism Raising Autism