Don't You Believe Them
Some things will never change
That's just the way it is
But don't you believe them
Bruce Hornsby, The Way It Is
One of the saddest autism stereotypes is the one about inability to make friends. Every now and again, a parent will say something like, "My autistic son has never had a friend. It's part of his disability."
Well, no. I'm sure these parents are quite sincere, but they are wrong. It's part of society's disability. You know, the one that causes significant impairment in accepting the existence of minorities, appreciating the value of human diversity, and befriending anyone who looks different.
If a child with dark skin, or one of foreign origin, started attending an all-white or mostly white school and was met with bullying and social exclusion, there would be no doubt what was going on. Nobody would blame the victim for his own mistreatment.
But somehow it's different when we have psychologists cooking up scientific-sounding labels and throwing around half-baked pronouncements about "lack of empathy" and "lack of social skills." Somehow that's enough in many people's minds to transform blatant bigotry into a mysterious neurological disorder afflicting the victims of said bigotry.
Parents are misled into believing that it is inevitable their children will be social outcasts all their lives if they have any discernible cognitive differences. Even more tragically, large numbers of autistic children are being taught that anyone who does not have friends, or who does not have some arbitrarily determined quantity of friends, or who does not interact with friends in exactly the same way as everyone else, must be hopelessly inferior and totally unworthy of social acceptance.
It would be so much easier, the seductive voices of prejudice assure us, if we could all be just like everyone else, with no inconvenient diversity to bother anyone.
But don't you believe them.