“It’s like you live in a foreign country and you don’t understand the language …”

No, this is not the quote of a famous person, but the quote of a patient describing, how it feels for him to live with autism. Two weeks ago, every 2nd of April, was the “World Autism Awareness Day”. Why do I tell you?

I think, special days like this one are important to get notice and attention  on rare diseases, to affect more interest, more reports in media and maybe more sponsoring and financial help for self-help organisations. But it’s not enough! One day is a nice try, but for helping people sustained, it is necessary  to change the way people judge disabled. And yes, they judge, if they want or not … Everybody judges other people, because of behaviour, appearance, social skills, maybe also because of education, work or material ownings. Our world is built for people without any handicaps, everybody should look like a model, earn much money, tries to be popular or get famous and live one’ s dreams.

Oh! I forgot: handicapped people can also live their dreams! If the society let them… I mean, our society is responsible, if there are means of public transport which are accessible, if the buildings, shops, offices and working places are accessible, if the hotels and bathrooms are accessible, if there are possibilities for work and to get in social contact and most of all: if the opinions and thoughts of the people are disability friendly.

I think, that most of prejudice exist, because it’s difficult to imagine diseases or handicaps and the resulting problems, if you don’t know, what it means for the people living with its…  So, lets make a try…

Imagine, you enter a room where some people are waiting for you, some you may know, some you don’t know. You begin to feel uncomfortable, your heart begins beating faster, your hands are sweaty and in your stomach a knot forms.

Imagine, you walk a few steps into the room, but then you stay like rooted. Someone, you know well, approaches to you with a smile and tries to look into your eyes and read your face. But you stand stock still, unable to move you look fixedly on your feet and you don’t say a word.

Imagine, the other person pushes you gently into the room, toward the strangers. You shall welcome them and panic begins to spread. You hate such situations, in general all strange and unfamiliar things cause massive discomfort. The strangers stretch out their hands to welcome you, but you ignore them.

Imagine, something new holds your attention. On the sideboard by the windows stands the colorful flower vase, as always. Beside, left and right, stand the golden picture frames with family photos, as always. But what is this??? In front of the flower vase stands a small wind light with a small yellow candle…

Imagine, that the knot in your stomach grows, it gets bigger and bigger … Something like irritation, lack of understanding and anger spreads in you. “No, thats wrong! That does not belong there! No! No! No!” you shout out loud and shrill. You push the strangers away and pounce on the sideboard…

No – I can’t imagine, whats going on for people with autismn – because I’m not, and everybody feels different. But I can try to understand, I can try to empathize with other people. I know the medical descriptions of autism like strange social behaviour, direct human contact makes them nervous, their fear of change and so on … More about autism itsself wrote my writing-friend Stella, ad Astra!  on Starlit Sky thoughts in her article about ” World Autism Awareness Day-2.4“. She reminded me about this day and allowed me to quote her article and use her photo, thank you dear Stella!!!

But I want to draw your attention to other aspects of trying to understand disabilities and deseases, because there are always two sides – everything difficult has something good. I know, sometimes it’s hard to see the good things, but they are here.  I found an article about people with autism who work for the israeli secret service. Because they have special and useful talents!

“Social contacts are hard for him, but he is technically gifted and is able to work extremely concentrated. What makes him special – it’s weakness and strength at the same time! And that’s also useful for the security forces … “

The israeli secret service employes many people, who have disabilities and at the same time special talents from the medical description of autism.

“They pay attention to every little change and are extremely thorough. They don’t have problems with routine tasks and many reps, it’s a sisyphian task which not everyone can affort.

But it’s not always easy to integrate autistic people in the group, they need more support than other soldiers. BUT: they are here because they prove the army a service, not out of pity. It’s a Win-Win for all!”

The program is named “Roim Rachok” – “Look into the distance”.  Yes, we all can look into the distance, but it’s a difference if we  see there possibilities, chances, friendly faces and helpful hands – or barriers, exclusion, shocked faces and people who turn away …


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