Blog Post #3

To me, one of the most interesting points that Bard’s video makes is how in Goldilock Rhetoric, language and communication have such a heavy influence on determining the ways in which NTs view and categorize individuals. Usually, if a person is non-verbal, people assume that the lack of activity in their speech corresponds directly to the amount of activity in their minds. Bard points out that while a non-verbal autistic person cannot speak in our language, they can still be quite intelligent (i.e. Amanda Baggs) and very well might be able to do things that verbal autistic individuals and NT’s cannot. Bard is right in saying that many non-verbal autists probably have intelligence comparable to Amanda Baggs’s, even though their intelligence is not accounted for just because they cannot communicate the same way as the rest of us. Further, a verbal autistic individual may have trouble doing certain simple tasks, such as laundry or using a pencil, that may not be so visible to the public eye as speech. I can see why Bard feels upset about NTs trying to compare the two, just as a result of NTs’ tendency to correlate spoken language and intelligence so directly with one another.

Honestly, Bard’s list of 9 things NTs shouldn’t do kind of intimidated me at first. After reading each, I immediately asked myself if I had ever done any of these things when communicating with a special needs person. But, I will say the list really made me switch my perspective when thinking about how a person with any sort of special needs might feel when interacting with an NT. No person wants to feel pitied, corrected, inadequate, or ignored. Savarese’s article reminded me of the importance of trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes when communicating with them; it would be so awful to feel such entrapment by your physical responses just from the anxiousness or nervousness of having someone speak to you. It was especially thought-provoking that Savarese had to deliberately greet children indirectly, just to keep from getting too excited and energetic. Usually, being excited and energetic is a good thing — it’s hard to imagine purposely holding these responses back.

All in all, no matter what an NT does, they won’t fully understand what the world looks or feels like to a person on any part of the autism spectrum. Nor does a person on the autism spectrum know what it’s like to be an NT, or what it’s like to be in the shoes of any other autistic individual. Life is not a “who has it worse” or “who understands it better” competition. We’ve all been given unique perspectives, and when interacting, we should do our best to be patient, genuine, and show respect to one another.

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