Think of the classic image of a young duck. You’re probably thing of something like the little guy to the right. Small, fluffy, tennis ball body, bright yellow with orange beak and feet, and little black eyes. If you grew up in the US, you know this image of a duck from your Little Golden Books, your Speak-n-Spell, your Little Einstein DVDs. It’s fairly iconic.
Now take a look at the not so little guy below. As far as ducks go, he’s clearly defective. Fluffy down is about the only thing he managed to get right, but his down is all the wrong color. His beak is black instead of orange. He’s big and clumsy-looking. He’s football-shaped instead of tennis ball-shaped. I bet all the other ducks would pick on him and tease him, call him names because he’s different, strange, and defective.
Of course, all of that is from a duck’s perspective. But if he’s been around ducks your entire life, or were even raised by ducks, then that little guy probably doesn’t know there can even be another perspective. He’s always felt too big, too ugly, too different, too defective. Then maybe some day he finds someone else who talks like him, thinks like him, even looks a bit like him. A grown up, ugly, defective duck, like this big guy.
And that’s when it all begins to make sense. By the goose’s standards, our little defective duck isn’t defective at all. Our little guy is a perfectly fine, totally non-defective gosling. He’s different from a duck, but he’s not less than a duck. It’s only when you try to judge and measure him by duck standards that you find him lacking.
And that’s the lesson that I’ve been learning, and that I hope other aspies and autistic people can take away from this site. We think differently. We’re wired differently. We experience the world differently. But different is not less. Autism is not a defective or lesser experience of life, it is just a different experience of life. It comes with its weaknesses and it comes with its strengths. It’s okay to be autistic, and it’s even okay to enjoy it. Being autistic is only a disability because the world we live in is shaped by and for neurotypical people. When we measure ourselves by our own standards and not the standards of others, we find out we’re actually okay. Different, but okay. We’re not defective ducks.