When you’re a child writing a piece in school and you’re asked to check your spellings, where do you go? To a dictionary. When you’re reading and you come across a word you don’t understand, where do you go? To a dictionary (probably an online one). When you are on the autistic spectrum and you don’t understand something someone said, where do you go? To the…oh wait, there’s no dictionary for it. You know the words, and who cares if you can spell them or not? But you still don’t understand it, and you have to guess at the meaning. And if you get it wrong, it’s just too bad for you.
I know that something I wish for is a little guidebook for those in the autistic community. Everyone says that autism is like landing on a planet where everything is mostly the same as their own planet, but everything is just a little off-centre – voices are louder, colours are brighter, and the language seems to have a hidden component. And of course, the scientists that sent you to this new planet didn’t pack a guidebook. Well, that’s why someone needs to write that guidebook. Sections on tonal shift, body language, common expressions and expectations would do wonders for the majority of the community, especially those that are trying desperately to mask and their failures are detrimental to their chances of success. Especially if it had a section on what people expect of autists and how to prove that they’ve got it all wrong.
Obviously, I know a guidebook like this would not fit every autist. But I have a feeling that if it covered enough things, many people on the mild and moderate areas of the spectrum would have a much easier time. Maybe the severely affected people would be unable to put these into practice. But plenty of perfectly intelligent, talented and kind people have been ostracized for being on the spectrum, and that’s not fair. What do you do if you want to cook a casserole and you don’t know how? You use a recipe. If someone with autism wants to appear like everyone else and they don’t know how? They don’t have anything to use and they can’t do it. It just stands to reason that they ought to have the chance to find that information, just like you can find a recipe.
There are some books on this. Author Jennifer Cook O’Toole has written a series of “Asperkids” books to help the children with autism. But adults with autism still need a little guidance as they grow. We need these books out! And maybe, if someone cares enough to read this book, gather information from people both with and without autism, what they need to know, what they know already. Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a guidebook coming to us.