But what about my quirks? My coworkers, family and close friends will all tell you that I have quirks that they both love and hate. What's the difference between someone like me and someone with autism? I have anxiety from being a perfectionist and will forever struggle with emotional eating and my overall depression about my body image and my love for everything sweet and fatty. Put that all together and without the medication I take I can display some pretty tumultuous behaviors and some close to me may have even called me bat-shit crazy from time to time! ha!
We all have our quirks, trials and challenges. I am lucky enough though to be able to have the gift of gab and have never had problems with communicating with others in a way that makes others think anything else but positive and expected thoughts about me. My quirks go unnoticed by others and so I don't get labeled as the profectionistic Sabra. I would hate it if that is the only thing that people would have to identify me with when they introduce me to family or their friends. Or if in every situation I had to go in to explaining that I was a perfectionist and needed to be treated according to specific guidelines or needed specific accommodations. Yikes, I'm frustrated and feisty just writing that. I can't imagine how it must be for those who are on the autism spectrum or with other disabilities who have to deal with this type of situation daily.
What is my point? Well, to make a short story long as my good friend Corinne always says, what I am trying to say is there is so much more to people with autism than just their autism. When you say "that autistic girl Sam likes to talk about her dog," the only thing people hear is that Sam has autism and nothing else. Does switching it around and saying "Sam, the girl who likes to talk about her dog and also has autism" make you think of more than just autism when you think of Sam? I think it does. There is something to be said about changing how we speak about others, no matter what their quirks or challenges are. What is your quirk? Would you like to be defined by that? I know I have many more qualities than just my struggles with being perfect and constantly fighting these twenty pounds due to my love of food. I am Sabra who is a mother of two amazing children, who loves dogs almost as much as her family, who has a husband who is selfless and will always be my best friend, who loves to read romance and young adult literature, and was a pretty top notch competitive swimmer at one time back in the day!
It takes some time to reshape how we think but once you notice how much you put the label/disability before the person and begin to change, it will impact you and those around you. Remind yourself what you want to be known for or remembered for and think of that when you label someone else.
One person can make a difference. I have watched those around me make changes just by me sharing and making that change myself.
Here's to embracing autism and doing amazing things every day!