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Shouldn't we be extending dignity to every human being around us, regardless of perceived intelligence? Sometimes it seems as if only those who express their cognitive ability with reliable spoken language deserve such treatment.
I was encouraged by the hearts of the leadership and a select few parishioners at an urban church here in our area over the weekend. Though this is a relatively small church, it has quite a few attendees with autism spectrum disorder. One of the young men was ignored by a neurotypical peer recently when he attempted to make conversation, and that spurred the leadership to learn more about ASD so they could practice awareness, acceptance, and empathy within their own community.
I was discouraged by the words of a mother of adult twins with ASD, who described them to ABC News in this way: "In the spectrum, they're at the very bottom." Now, I am more than willing to extend benefit of the doubt when it comes to out-of-context news editing. But it made me sad to think that because New York City Marathon runners Jamie and Alex Schneider couldn't find a way to communicate verbally, they were "at the very bottom" in any way. It seemed undignified to me, and I doubted they would describe themselves in a similar fashion, if empowered with the tools and training Larry and Tracy have been.
What's the point?, you ask. Extend dignity. Each of us is doing the best we can with the tools we have. We all do better when we know better. Assume those around you will do the same. And do your best to bring them the tools that will inspire still more community members to extend them the dignity they deserve.