High-functioning respect

Ryan Lee & Bekki Semenova


This guest post is by Ryan Lee and Bekki Semenova, two rising autism self-advocates. They are calling for more respect and understanding of those with high functioning autism.

Autism ranges from mild to severe, meaning some can be affected more than others. Still, the lack of understanding of autism leads to rushed judgments. For those with high functioning autism like ourselves, people sometimes expect too much of us.

According to Bekki, “As with any other person with Autism, we still have significant challenges in our everyday lives which stand in the way of us living a comfortable life or succeeding in school and work.”

According to both Ryan and Bekki, “Having high-functioning autism is more challenging in some ways. It’s not fair that the world keeps on telling us to improve, keeps on telling us to change, and keeps on saying that we need to be more ‘appropriate.’ We are different, and they need to not discriminate against us like that. They think that the ‘high-functioning’ autistics, such as us, need to be more aware of certain things; but just because we can talk, say sentences perfectly and have verbal language, that does not change the fact that we are STILL autistic.”

It may be hard for us to find the right words to express what we want to say. Sometimes, we might even have trouble understanding what others are saying. “For example,” Bekki says, “it is difficult for me to understand when people talk too fast, use long sentences, or instructions with many steps at once.”

According to Bekki, “People with HFA are special just as everyone else is special in their very own way. We need understanding and acceptance from other people and wider recognition of milder forms of Autism. High functioning autism is not an easy or simple condition to live with. It is important to remember that autism is autism. People with HFA are, in general, very aware of their own difficulties and extremely sensitive to others’ negative reactions. Autism is how our brain functions
and that way should be respected.”

According to Ryan, “Also, some people just don’t understand what it’s like to be autistic. They assume the worst about us autistics; like we’re stalkers, violent and other stereotypes even when we just want to be friends. They always assume we’re in the wrong; it hurts a lot and is infuriating. They should get to know us on who we are, not on how we act, and not judge us on the outside. If no one will speak up about it…then we will.”

See Ryan’s YouTube channel; or view his poetry website. To see Ryan’s SBSK interview click here


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