Able-ist Behaviour? I think not.

Before I say what must be said, I’d like to share a post on Facebook I saw today.  Most would take this as a post meant to inspire kindness, and that we should not say anything without something nice to say.  I am not the most politically correct individual, so please forgive me if I incorrectly identify needs, causes, or disabilities in this post.

  I am typically sympathetic to the special needs agenda, however this touches on the idea that every group, agenda, faction, party… every cause has the potential for a bad side.

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This made us cry! Lisa Sarber Aldrich has shared this amazing story behind her ‘bad’ looking birthday cake…

“Asked bakery-looking-employee if she could write on it for me. She said she would, and after a long time, she came and presented me with this cake. I looked her In the eye and said thank you before I even looked at the cake. After looking, I nervously laughed and headed to check out- it didn’t really matter to me that it looked so bad- I thought people would think it was funny. The cashiers at the self check out didn’t think it was so funny though, and called a few more cashiers and a manager over to look, even taking pictures. To my surprise, after they discussed it, one cashier put her arm on my shoulder and said “The girl who wrote that has Autism. Thank you for smiling and thanking her- even though she’s not supposed to write on cakes, you probably made her day.” So I guess the moral of the story is that kindness is important!”

 

 

This person was accidentally nice to someone autistic, or so the story goes.  However, the comments I read after were terrible.  People of varying positions on the Autism spectrum or who were parents or friends of someone with Autism commented that they were offended by this.  They interpreted this as someone demeaning the spectrum and people with disorders in general.  Here is one such comment:

Since when is ableist behaviour, and public ridiculing of someone else’s creative efforts whilst crowing about your own “kindness”, actually kind?!!
I am autistic and a parent to kids with ASD. This is not an inspiring, good story. We are autistic, not stupid or incapable – some of us are artistic and some of us are not. Some of us can learn cake decorating and some of us can not. Or choose not to! Just like everybody else – we have strengths and weaknesses.
But also just like everyone else – having something we did being publicly called “so bad” whilst “kind hearted” people laugh and stare behind our backs at our efforts, and then publicly proclaim how “kind” they are for not saying so to our face – hurts, humiliated and offends us. This is not about being kind to a girl who works in a bakery, but about somehow trying to suggest that publicly posting about politely buying the “so bad” cake anyway and then laughing at it behind her back, is an act of kindness.

The original post clearly is meant to commend someone for keeping their mouth shut when something didn’t quite go as expected, and how their acceptance may inadvertently improved the day of someone whom they later learned was Autistic.  Some people chose to take it as making fun of someone Autistic, because the individual mentioned that she thought her friends would laugh at it.  If I had decorated her cake, her friends would have laughed at that too!  It would have nothing to do with Autism or in my case ADHD (And the fact that I am in no way artistic), and everything to do with the fact that the decoration was subpar.  Regardless, she accepted it without comment, when she could have made a scene like many people would, and like many people have in the comments on this post!  The truth of the matter is that if this really did happen, and it happened the way this is written, then she may very have made that employee’s day AND learned a valuable lesson about books and their covers.  Any one who chose to be offended by this should, in my opinion, take a closer look at the message and let people be inspired not to judge. 

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