On July 14th, the New York Times published an Op Ed: “How to Meet Autistic People Halfway,” which highlighted a common, unfortunate misconception about people on the autism spectrum; that they are not interested in connecting socially with others. Because Felicity House is devoted to the success, creativity and happiness of women with autism, and we can’t imagine leading a successful, creative or happy life in isolation from friends and others, we felt we had to respond, and submitted the following letter:
There should be no question that autistic people need and value social connections. We all do. I see every day how deeply it matters to women with autism to enjoy the company and support of other women and to be a part of a community that is fun, social, supportive and affirming.
As autistic people have been advocating for decades, let’s create more environments and opportunities for positive social and recreational experiences, behaviors related to autism notwithstanding. It should not be a radical idea that one can make a friend without making eye contact, or have an engaging conversation while flapping one’s hands. The importance of enjoying time with others and making human connections in life cannot be overstated.
It is time to stop asking autistic people to adapt their social behavior to fit mainstream expectations. Especially when we see in spaces that allow people to come together in ways that are comfortable for them, powerful social connections can be made.
Click here to see how our letter was represented in the New York Times, both online and in print.