Words are used in many ways
Sometimes they are my friends

Others sometimes use their words
That sound like love and friend
Extending from them
To me

But in reality

These words only sound like love and friend
But in the end the sound of them
Does not ring true and good
And is not of love and friend

But instead these words draw lines
Dividing
Their group of US
From my group of THEM

Society says it is ok
In fact it is perfectly fine
And noble
Even though self-serving
Entirely acceptable
To divide out those THEMs
From USes

As long as it’s done
With a smile
Using words that are initially tolerable
Because

Society needs a way to talk about THEM
Because in the end
It is only for THEIR own good
To help them
To get services
To provide the spot for THEIR inclusion
(Once they have proven themselves able to handle it)

Sneaky words said with a smile
While holding a piece of chalk
To draw the dividing line
Made by words
Sounding alright on the surface
But laden with
Otherness
Less Than
Different
Not US
And sometimes Not Quite Human

We are the people you call

•    Special
•    Low Functioning
•    High Functioning

You say we are in need of a

•    Peer Buddy
•    Peer Pal
•    Good Friend from Mrs. Jones Program

We are the

•    Inclusion Student
•    The community service hours other kids need

We sit

•    At the Peer Buddies lunch table
•    The Special Ed table in the Inclusion Room
•    On the Special Ed bench waiting for our short bus

During the school day you will find us in the

•    Inclusion Room (when it is our turn because they can only take one of us at a time)
•    Cognitively Delayed Room
•    Behavior Room
•    Emotionally Disturbed Room
•    EBD Room (Emotionally Behaviorally Disturbed)
•    Special Ed Room
•    Special Needs Room

We are so doggone “special” that after school we attend

•    Special Olympics
•    Special Arts
•    Special Night at the YMCA
•    Special Needs Social Group

Where every participant is just as special
And those who are not special are our helpers

When we grow up we live in

•    Special Housing
•    Some of us in Section 8 rentals
•    Some in group homes
•    Some in county care facilities
•    Some of us are so special that there isn’t even a special enough place for us so we stay living with our parents.
•    Some of us are not quite special enough to get on a housing list and yet cannot maintain on our own so we stay living with our parents.

As adults too many of us spend our days

•    In Special Programs (if our county has them)
•    At ARC (if our town has an ARC)
•    At Sheltered Workshops (if one is available)
•    In Supported Employment (if we qualify)
•    Looking for a job (on the days we are able to)
•    On the couch in our parents home (because other options are not available)

Because we are so deficient
In ever so many ways
Whenever we do something ordinary
like zip up our jacket, ride a horse, or answer Jeopardy questions you describe us as

•    Awesome
•    An Inspiration

I don’t understand this. If my friends and I are such awesome inspirations to the rest of you

•    Why is it that we are in two distinct groups – US and THEM?
•    Why is it that your group always holds the chalk?
•    Why do you keep using your chalk to draw lines that divide us?
•    Why do you want me on the other side of your line – away from you?
•    And why do you think this is good?

Image description black and white photograph of woman with long brown hair and glasses smiling.           JUDY ENDOW, MSW

Judy is an autistic author and international speaker on a variety of autism related topics. Read more from Judy on Ollibean here and on her website www.judyendow.com.

About the Author:

Judy Endow, MSW is an author, artist, and international speaker on a variety of autism-related topics. The award winning Paper Words, Discovering and Living with My Autism ,  Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic AdultPaper Words, and many other wonderful books can be found on her website JudyEndow.com.

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