Many of the lived experiences and cultural norms that are deleterious for autistics are also negative for all humankind.
Due to a different neurotype, autistics have minds that perceive, think, and feel in different ways. We observe a lot. We take in far more information. We are also impacted far more by the onslaught of incoming information. This is how terms like “sensory sensitivity” developed. Our senses are literally more enhanced than the average human.
While this could be seen as a negative thing (like that we more easily get headaches from chemical smells), we can also see our sensitivities as opportunities for improvement for all humankind. For example, many autistics instantly get headaches from exhaust. If car emissions were cleaner, autistic would benefit greatly AND so would all of humankind. Although others don’t get headaches, it doesn’t mean there aren’t invisible impacts on someone’s health.
Even if our physical health is not involved, other improvements could impact the enjoyment of life. For example, I cannot stand the sound of leaf blowers. I wish I had the money to fund an innovation competition for people to come up with an alternative. I think everyone would enjoy their yards and outdoor spaces more without the interruption of loud machinery.
Some other examples include how autistics deeply feel about social justice issues, the environment, and animals. We often care about these topics because we think and research deeply on topics, and our brains are rapidly making connections. For example, many people simply don’t take the time to think about the impact of the farming industry on the wellbeing of animals, our environment, or our own health. However, I know many autistics that do. Their suggested improvements to this industry could have positive impacts for every being involved.
In the book “Invisible Differences,” the author writes a dedication to autistics. She writes, “Your role is not to fit into a mold, but rather, to help others - all others - out of the molds they’ve been trapped in. You’re not here to follow some pre-ordained path, but rather the opposite: to make your own way in the world, and invite those around you to stray from their well-trodden paths.”
This is a beautiful invitation for autistics to celebrate how we are different and see it as an opportunity to invite others to change. For example, I write about neurotypical cultural norms like hustle culture that are extremely damaging to the wellbeing of autistics. I think hustle culture is also damaging to all of mankind. Many of the harmful norms I seek to dismantle would benefit everyone on this planet.
We as autistics can be the alarm bells. The beacons of possibility. We can embrace our unique perspectives and see how they are an incredible asset to our world.