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If You've Met One Person

Updated: Jan 3

May 29, 2022


There’s a saying in the autism community, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

Let me walk you around the block on this one.

It’s a spin on an old trope of stereotyping. An example: “If you’ve met one lawyer, you’ve met ‘em all.” Strange, but that’s how many of us were trained to see the world. We say things like, “My neighbor’s a Muslim, so I get how they are.”

It’s quite delusional, if you think about it.

It’s also human nature. A lot of people, including me, learned about autism for the first time by watching Rainman, the 1988 movie featuring Dustin Hoffman. Its title character was a rigidly-inflexible, institutionalized savant who could count spilled matchsticks at a glance. It was based on a real-life person named Kim Peek.

“Aha,” we thought, “now I know what autism is like.”

It was as if we’d watched Batman: The Dark Knight and decided we knew the stories of every other comic book superhero from then on.

Instagram is a favorite communication tool for a lot of folks in the autistic community. Thus, it can give you a front row seat for some of the many (infinite?) nodes of the spectrum. Here are three of my fave autistic thought leaders' accounts:

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