Friday, August 24, 2007

He Ain't Heavy (script)

Script for: "He Ain't Heavy"

What I'd like to speak about today is the value of labels. My reason for the title of today's video, "He Ain't Heavy" is that I am reminded of an old tune named, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" that always gave me reason to look at people beyond their labels.

The way each of us sees another person by their label that they give to themselves can greatly enhance the respect we show for that person.

If, for example, someone can tell you who they are and how their culture often communicates, the label by which they identify themselves can aid in our understanding of that person or allow us the opportunity to say," I don't know a lot about that, but I am willing to learn." When we see beyond that person's label and remember that we are all connected as brothers and sisters and fellow humans ,
we can expand our knowledge of the diversity within each subset of people.

Unfortunately, the way we use labels is often much less respectful. Our judgments are not made with a great deal of patience. It is all too easy to decide whether a person is good or bad or whether we like them or we don't.

Beyond that we are not likely to change our view of a person once we have decided what their labels say about them. This makes it difficult for people to be seen as who they are and can greatly impede their opportunity for growth.

In this case, we may not need to judge the judger, but we can certainly show the error in their judgment.

We must also accept that there are societal power structures that create the need for people who are more likely to be oppressed to show how they are proud of who they are. This is important.

Amomgst those who need to struggle for respect and dignity, we need to give that to each other. Otherwise we cancel out the efforts of each other. Creating dignity and respect for one already oppressed group at the expense of another will create the same oppression that caused the problem in the first place.

In the case of autistic people, we must be careful in the ways that we use our
inherent talents or even our accomplishments as a badge of honor that promotes our label. What society calls our level of functioning, cannot escape the subjectiveness
of how each function is seen to be a contribution.

Diversity must play a dominant role in these decisions, otherwise every autistic will be expected to function in a more socially acceptable way rather than what is commonlly and thoughtlessly referred to as a level of functioning. There are too many variables within each autistics experience for such evaluations and the expectations that go with them.

Professionals often speak to and of autistics in a patronizing tone. Autistics have been more likely been seen by what we can't do instead of what we can. The discrimination against our culture has been a great burden to how we are seen and how that effects our self esteem.

This self esteem is essential for us to know that we can contribute. We must remind ourselves, and others that it may very well be the social skills that seem awkward and
even the behaviors that seem difficult for ourselves and/or others to manage that is a part of a package that is not being adequately evaluated.

The same sensitivities to an environment that was designed without us in mind may be the very thing that indicates that a person is inclined to be very creative and inquisitive.

Everyone is connected to autistic people, and we can all design opportunities for autistics and help people to approach the label with more dignity and respect.
Thank you


At 4:36 AM , Anonymous Casdok said...

Well said!
And thank you!

At 5:02 AM , Blogger LAA and Family said...

I agree, well said! Things aren't perfect in the world right now, I guess they'll never be. Even so, I feel very fortunate that my child with autism lives in a time where society is at least beginning to realize that they can have meaningful independent lives.

At 7:49 AM , Blogger Ed said...

Thanks Casdok,
I'm enjoying reading your blog.

Thanks Mom Accepting Autism,
I hope lots more people will catch on to what you are saying.

At 8:41 PM , Blogger Steve D said...

Hi Ed -
I have just viewed some of your videos, and want to thank you for making such clear and powerful statements about autism and how society could better deal with its autistic members. My son will benefit from your efforts. May I link to your page on my blog? I have a section in the sidebar for "Autistic Bloggers I Like to Read".

At 10:52 PM , Blogger Ed said...

Yes Steve D,
You may add a link of my page to your blog.And thanks so much for asking.
I hope it was O.K. to add yours to mine.

I've been very impressed by your interest in hearing from autistic adults. I find it rare and admirable.

I think everyone can benefit from your doing this. It sets an good example for others and you are to be commended for your efforts.
I liked the reports you gave on the conference you went to.

I also liked the questions you ask on your page. The one about movement and autism is of particular interest as it presents itself very differently in myself and other autistic members of my family.

I would apreciate being allowed to contribute to such discussions in the future.I think have something valuable to add.

I will be be adding more written things to my own blog soon. I welcome your comments.

I havent written much lately because I've been making video's, doing school work, and getting ready for my wife's 2 sons to visit this weekend. We are excited about their visit. Her eldest is an officer is the navy and we don't get to see him much.Her youngest I'm really looking forward to getting to know better. He gave us this computer and having it and learning to use it has been very valuable to my life.

Thanks again,

At 12:52 PM , Blogger Steve D said...

Ed -
Okay, I am adding the link today. And, thanks for linking to mine.

I would appreciate any contributions to discussion on my blog from you.

And have fun with your family this weekend - its always nice to be surrounded by loved ones.

At 2:47 AM , Blogger Casdok said...

I also have learnt so much from reading blogs from autitsic people, they have helped me enormously and given me so much more insight than i had before.
So please carry on the good work. Us parents need this. I hope profesionals also read your work. Theories on autism have canged dramatically over the short years it has had a name. And hopefully attitudes will carry on changing, for the better.


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