“I have Invisible Disabilities”

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This is one of the postcards from the August 1 2010 PostSecret update.

When I saw this, I thought of Karan. His autism is invisible. It doesn’t show itself on his face, his limbs … there is no outward flashing sign saying: “Something is different!”

Which is probably why when we go out somewhere and something upsets him and he reacts, people think that it’s just another bratty kid misbehaving, with a family who doesn’t know how to teach him manners.

But wait a minute… look carefully people.

That 5-foot 5-inch tall boy you see towering over his mother and now his sister (but only by a few cms, I assure you!) is crying or screaming in fear/discomfort, not because he’s interested in acting up. He’s stuffing his fingers in his ears because he’s scared. Not because he’s trying to be funny. He’s jumping on the balls of his feet because rocking makes him feel safe. He’s grabbing my clothes and Mom’s clothes to be closer to us because he doesn’t know how else to show he’s upset. He might even bite us because he’s frustrated.

Not because he’s badly behaved.

Think about that the next time you see someone struggling with their child in a mall, a park, a restaurant.

The next time you point at my brother and tell your child/partner: “Look at that kid, his parents can’t even handle it” or say something to the effect of how weird he is, don’t blame me for doing what I always do: walking up to you, giving my best dirty look, and asking you if you have a problem. And then you can do what you always do: shake your head and slink away like a coward.

Don’t mess with people who deal with autism or any kind of special needs every day. We’re stronger than you and we sure as hell don’t care what people think of us.

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