Communication 101

The author of this moving video makes the point that interaction with the environment (what she calls “language”) comes in many different forms for different people, and we should not expect that someone must be like us to be considered a person.

I think the definition of language here may be a bit strained, but the author gives us an important reminder: don’t dismiss someone as intrinsically bizarre or non-thinking simply because you don’t understand him or her. As with any interaction with a different culture, understanding an autistic person must be done on that person’s terms.

Practically, how can we do this? I would suggest this: give every human the benefit of the doubt. Assume there is much more going on for people than you may understand at first glance. Try to step into their shoes and see it from their perspective. This video could function as a first step for you.

I think this applies to the disabled and those who are culturally different from you, but it also helps in conversations with those who take positions that make them feel to you as if they “make no sense.” Someone who seemed perfectly rational decides to vote for a candidate you think is barbaric. Rather than simply dismiss them, I suggest taking the time to try to understand.

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