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
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
Their group of US
From my group of THEM
Society says it is ok
In fact it is perfectly fine
Even though self-serving
To divide out those THEMs
As long as it’s done
With a smile
Using words that are initially tolerable
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
And sometimes Not Quite Human
We are the people you call
• 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
• 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
• 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?
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.
Wow! So so powerful!! Thank you for writing this and for showing the world the hypocrisy and the separateness that still exists for so many.
This is so true, and as a parent, I feel so helpless sometimes, and, like the system makes all the choices for us…reading this just breaks my heart and gives me the motivation to try to do sobering different.
Thank you for the insightful thoughts!
I’ve said over and over…what has been said and done breaks people into “other”, “us”, “them”…
Another thought provoking post! May your words eliminate the chalk lines for all of those who read this!
A really wonderfully written piece, Judy Endow. Congratulations and thank you for standing tall and strong in what is becoming a unified force of parents who are fighting for an end to the discriminatory and inhumane practices regarding those who have brain diseases/disorders. Although 2 of my 3 adult sons have been diagnosed with brain diseases that include psychosis, I celebrate the entire mass of people who are fighting for the rights of loved ones on the mental health/illness continuum. Thank you for sharing your post. I will do the same and share it on my page. My best to you and those for whom you advocate.
You are always so accurate!
Judy, your writing is very thoughtful and insightful. I always learn by reading your perspective. Your writing brings an eraser to those who hold the chalk. Thank you for sharing these important thoughts.
It is a good read, there still is a lot of separation that goes on, but that’s with many different minority groups of individuals. In society, somehow if you are the same you are accepted, and if you are different you are an outcast. Then people use their fake emotions and smiles and act like it isn’t a big deal. It’s one thing to say that I love you on this vary valentines day, but it’s another thing to actually mean it. Many times people use social normatives when going about their daily life, and much of it is based on the rules set by social groups such as family and friends. Before long it becomes universally accepted. But if someone with Autism has trouble picking up those cues, then you become weird plus being a social outcast.
Even as parents we are “special”! Will we ever get passed it?
Looking forward to the day when we are ALL “us” and nobody is “them” and until then just lucky to be the same kind of kind as Judy Endow.
Another really powerful post from Judy Endow. There is a word for this and it’s called segregation. Segregation hurts everyone.