The behavior of the Good Morning America host and hostess were wrong.Every time any one taunts, bullies, targets another for their differences they laugh and make sport of it at another person’s expense. Then, when they are finished, they move on as if all is well in the world – their moment of light-hearted revelry is over. For the target of the mocking it is never over. In fact, it changes them forever. With each continuing societally condoned assault, the trauma and scarring pile up. " Judy Endow , Ollibean logo

As an autistic person I have my share of differences. Any time I am a way that the majority of people are not it is labeled “a difference.” Growing up and continuing on in adult life I learned that in general society does not consider my differences a good thing. In fact, it has often been considered good sport to poke fun of me for my differences. This happens to all people who deviate from the coveted standard of “normal.”
Any difference is teased, mocked and ridiculed. If you are a larger or smaller, taller or shorter, faster or slower, darker or lighter than the norm you will be poked fun of in a variety of ways. This is so pervasive in our society that people who are otherwise generally considerate folks don’t even pause to consider that besides being wrong, jeering and mocking is very hurtful and can impose life long consequences.

 

All people who are different in any way know exactly what I am talking about. If you are autistic you likely have an especially high dose of this societally accepted bad behavior directed at you only because autism gives rise to ever so many differences. Also, it is not unusual for folks with autism to have other conditions besides autism that set them apart from the norm.

 

A funny thing that happens when you are a person who is teased and mocked is that if you say anything about this – even in a therapy setting – you are often assumed to be the person who needs to change. This has happened to me several times over the course of my life. As a child, when others bullied me I was told to ignore it, to stop being a baby, to get better skills so I wouldn’t be teased, etc., etc., etc. Basic bottom line that was communicated to me was being different was my own fault and I needed to either change my difference or toughen up and not let the taunting of others bother me.

 

This morning on the Good Morning America show there was baseball game footage shown where a man in the stands missed catching a ball that came his way. Remarkably, he was given a second chance when another ball came his way, but he missed that ball too. The Good Morning America crew jeered and taunted while the clip ran, publically poking fun of this man for not catching the ball. Just the fact they felt comfortable acting this way on national TV lets us know how pervasive the idea that it is perfectly okay to tease and ridicule others for their differences permeates our society.

 

This societal attitude is wrong. The behavior of the Good Morning America host and hostess were wrong. Every time any one taunts, bullies, targets another for their differences they laugh and make sport of it at another person’s expense. Then, when they are finished, they move on as if all is well in the world – their moment of light-hearted revelry is over. For the target of the mocking it is never

over. In fact, it changes them forever. With each continuing societally condoned assault, the trauma and scarring pile up.

 

Today I work with many others who will always have differences, who will be unmercifully taunted and made fun of and who will be expected to be the ones to change in order to be accepted. As a society, we can do this in a different way if we so choose. We can make it unacceptable to poke fun of other’s differences. When we are the person who teases (and we all are from time to time) we can issue an apology and determine to be more mindful of how we treat other human beings on this planet. When we witness a public display of demeaning someone else’s differences we can call out those who are doing it.

 

Here is a poem I wrote when a teen. I share it as my way of sticking up for those coming up behind me who are teased, poked fun of, humiliated only because they have exceptionalities. I also share it to call out the poor behavior the whole nation saw on TV this morning.

 

Good Morning America, please apologize to the untold numbers of people you hurt this morning. You have the opportunity to be an example setter for the rest of the nation because we have all made the same mistake you made this morning. Very few who make this mistake issue an apology and determine not to tease at the expense of others in the future. You have an opportunity here. Please take it. The nation is watching.

 

 

Scratched Soul

 

When you see my “different-ness”

And point out how it is amusing

The sharp edges of your inner laughter

Make scratches on my soul.

When you see my “different-ness”

And find it hard to tolerate

Your annoyance

Makes the scratches bleed.

When you see my “different-ness”

And cannot stand it near you

You disgust

Makes the bleeding hard to stop.

This is why I try so hard

To only let you know

My ways of “sameness” that match you…

So I might preserve my soul.

– Paper Words: Discovering and Living With My Autism, pg. 128

 

 

BOOKS AND DVD BY JUDY ENDOW

 

Endow, J. (2012). Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic Adult. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

 

Endow, J. (2006). Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism’s Helpers. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

 

Endow, J. (2013). Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

 

Endow, J. (2009). Paper Words: Discovering and Living With My Autism. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

 

Endow, J. (2009). The Power of Words: How we think about people with autism spectrum disorders matters! Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

 

Endow, J. (2009). Outsmarting Explosive Behavior: A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Black and white photograph of Judy Endow. Text reads " Judy Endow,MSW is an autistic author, artist 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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