As a little child growing up in the mennonite religion not a lot of things were different. The woman all dressed the same, the men all dressed the same and in a lot of ways I fit in. What was considered different was those who were not part of the religion and the word different was often used as a term where different was not good. Yet I can recall very specific things in my childhood that I noticed that were different that I loved. Oh the blossoms on a cherry tree are much more beautiful than the green leaves of the maple tree.
When faced with accepting my own Autism I faced a dilemma and I believe it stemmed from my own childhood where I was taught that different was most always a bad thing.
Understanding some things being different has come easy for me. For example I do know the difference between a cat and a dog . I do know the difference between one sentence to the next.
The other night I was watching the news and a woman was interviewed. She was asked a question and her answer confused the heck out of me. (I am making this an example because it is not exactly the topic she was speaking about but the sentence structure is the same) When asked what benefits does this new program offer she replied.
“this gives the children opportunity to go out and actively participate in helping the community as well as gives the children a chance to go out and help in the community.
I paused the TV and said to Ryan. I don’t understand that sentence at all! Could you listen to it and tell me what she is saying? It sounds like she is saying the same thing two times.
We listened to it again…and again.
Ryan laughed a little. Colleen, he said this is what happens sometimes to people when they get nervous. They believe they have said 2 things but really they have just said the same thing 2 different ways.
Oh! I said.
It’s been 2 day since this happened and my brain is still trying to figure out what the difference is. Of course I immediately return to the roots of my childhood and my first reaction is “well that’s wrong”! If I were to express 2 different things I would express 2 specific different things as not to confuse anyone.
But then I tried to move past the idea that I was taught as a child that different is wrong.
And my brain suddenly became open to understanding a little more. (which a little side note here, my councilor I saw explained to us before that the window for me to learn language is gone. I am too old to teach in other words) But I don’t believe I am. I just need to take it slowly.
Different has 7 different letters. (let me explain this and describe the difficulty for the Autistic mind) Your first reaction might be no different has 9 different letters.
There is one D, one I, two F’s , two E’s, one R, one N and one T. (if you count those letters that makes 7 different letters taken from the alphabet.
However seeing the word different as having 9 different letters can be seen this way ( and this is what is so confusing when it comes to language for me)
There is one D, one I, two F’s , two E’s, one R, one N and one T. (if you count those letters that makes 7 different letters taken from the alphabet. EXCEPT- the two letter F’s are in 2 different spots the two letter E’s are also in two different spots. Which means one could be perfectly honest in saying there are 9 different letters in the word different. Because each letter stands in a different spot on this document.
(I wondering are you following me still?) What I am trying to get at is Different can be described in countless ways as well as can be interpreted in countless ways and here in lives the Autistic Mind.
Autistic Tip- We prefer things simply spoken and concise and perhaps will always need a little more time to understand what you are saying. There are so many variables to look at when it comes to language and sometimes those variables just become to over whelming for us. Simple is Ok.
Saying the same thing 2 different ways and offering them in a conversation as 2 different choices only gives my ears the choice to choose which sentence to hear. Offering 2 different ways to do something is completely different. Unless you are talking about what my ears are doing.
So back to understanding the meaning behind the word different. I have come to the conclusion that different can be used in different ways.
Yes I am Autistic and I am Autistic in many different ways , at many different times. Where the isolation and loneliness comes from though is understanding I cannot be different than Autistic. I will always be Autistic.
There are many options presented to each of us in our life time that affords us the opportunity to stand in a different place, see different things, experience different cultures, foods, and conversations.
The word different has many deep as well as simple definitions and just by re arranging the structure of a sentence a person can convey an entirely different meaning while still using the same words. I am learning to Appreciate differences. They are not a bad thing. So here is my understanding of the words different.
If the word different had legs and could run I’m pretty sure it could play tag with itself.
If the word different had ears I am sure it could speak to itself and listen at the same time
If the word different had eyes I am sure it would be the only clinically blind being with 20/20 vision
But most of all if the word different had arms those arms would be long enough to reach around the entire world and embrace every bit of itself