Home > In Their Own Words > Understanding… The bigger picture

Understanding… The bigger picture

This post is by Stuart Duncan, a work from home father and whose wife is a stay at home mother with Fibromyalgia, which adds a whole other layer of difficulty. They devote as much time to their children as possible because they feel that their children need love, guidance and support far more than they need a new shiny bike. They can’t provide all that they wish that they could but their family is what it is, they push forward as best they can. You can read the original post here.

For the last couple of years, I’ve really been pushing the idea of taking awareness of Autism and upgrading it to understanding and acceptance. I truly believe that, while awareness is a great start, it’s simply not enough in that, being aware of something doesn’t necessarily mean you understand it. And what most autistics need is some level of understanding and, of course, acceptance of who they are.

Understanding of…

The thing is, you don’t have to necessarily understand every nuance about Autism… it would be nice. If everyone just instantly knew all about Autism, acceptance would be a breeze. But you don’t have to.

What you do have to understand is that there is a reason.

When you see someone acting strangely on the street corner, when you see someone being mean and rude in general, when you see someone hitting themself, when you see a person being… not what you expect… there is a reason.

Perhaps the person has a disability/special need, perhaps the person had a really bad day (fired, family member died, lost everything), perhaps the person simply is the way they are… it is not personal. It’s nothing against you.

All you need to do is understand that there is a reason. Rather than say “that person is weird” or to think about how what they’re doing affects you… instead, ask yourself what the reason could be. Perhaps it’s bigger than you think. Perhaps it’s not. But there is a reason.

It’s not always Autism… so it’s not just for autistics that I push for understanding.

But I do know this. If people stop judging and take a moment for greater understanding when they see an autistic acting “against the norm”… then perhaps those people will take a moment for greater understanding in all circumstances.

Don’t let someone lashing out at you affect your day. They had a reason and it wasn’t you. Don’t let someone acting strangely affect how you see people. They have a reason… they’re not strange.

Greater understanding… it starts when you stop taking it personally and judging the person for it.


With understanding comes acceptance… once you come to understand how a person is, how they think and who they are… you accept them.  You may wish to avoid the person who lashes out at strangers when they have a bad day, but you accept them for that.

Same with people with special needs, or even just regular every day people who go about their life differently than you do.

They have a reason for being who they are just as much as you have a reason for being who you are. And if you understand that, you can accept that.

I want for people to accept me for who I am just as much as I want for people to accept my children for who they are. Not because one has Autism and not because one does not. But because they are who they are.

Just One

If you can gain understanding and acceptance for just one new person, someone you see as different than yourself, someone you do not yet know… then you can do it for anyone and everyone.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Autism, Tourettes, Down Syndrome, political differences, religious differences… anything! If you can gain greater understanding and acceptance of anyone… you have the tools necessary to do that for everyone.

Be quick to to understand…. not judge.

  1. usethebrainsgodgiveyou
    November 26, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Wow…this works on so many levels. Sometimes I judge “normal” people pretty harshly, too, although I’m not sure I’ve ever met one. This is just good advice for living.

  2. November 27, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I am the mum of a son who was diagnosed as profoundly autistic. At the time the following thoughts popped into my head, as the medical people looked so solemn:

    They told me you were Different – Autistic
    I told them I was optimistic
    How could they know
    I love you so
    Because you are – DIFFERENT!

  3. Joan
    November 27, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    This ..o applies also to everyone including Coeliac disease I have it & because it was not identified by 9 different doctors It was nit picked up till I was 64 Only people who have had metabolic acidosis know what it is like Through 2 hardworking dedicated doctors & a gallant team of nurses am I alive. It has killed 3 of my family Through lack of ordinary knowledge. Good luck !

  4. November 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    This is very beautiful.
    It’s what we all should aspire to be – I hope to live up to it.
    Thank you for writing it.

  5. Brenda Neil
    November 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Thank you for this VERY important reminder.

  6. Deborah C.
    November 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    How beautifully put.

  7. Maria
    November 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Well said! :)

  8. David Hunter
    November 27, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    How about an “Occupy Autism”?

  9. November 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Great advice,as it is very easy to take life perosnal. Like Carlos Santana said,He would get up thinking the world was out to ruin his day, until a friend asked him why he thought he was so important that the world would wake up just to ruin his day..he realized that bcause the world and everyone around him did appreciate him they wanted him to have a good day, and not ruin his day. He was able to regroup and now Carlos is makning music again and we still appreciate him. Point being,we all have good and mad(Imeant to use mad) days and it is easy to judge, however I read, if you have experienced that persons dilema, or experience you can judge..DB

  10. February 8, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Awesome. I like your post. Very interesting and helpful. I will bookmark this. :)

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