Your Outlook Is Like A Prison That You’re In

A friend sent me this song and encouraged me to tear it to pieces. Don’t mind if I do.

Here are the lyrics, so we can rip this thing apart in new and creative ways.

Maybe I don’t speak too well
but I’m coming outta my shell
And I like playing by myself if you can’t tell
I like to go to school
yeah I’m a miracle
and I’m glad to be alive

If you’ll wait patiently
well then eventually
I will understand the words that you’re saying to me
My autism
is like a prison
that I’m in

I share my heart but only in my mind
I share my pain when I scream at night
I can’t express to you
what I’m going through
The only way is for me to cry

Mom I see your fear
through every single tear
Just to know I’ve caused you pain from inside of here
My autism
is like a prison
that I’m in

I share your joy but only in my mind
You show me love but just not in my time
Cause my reality
takes everything in me
To make it through without a fight

I know you love me
when you hug me
And when I hear you pray to God for Him to heal me
Maybe one day
you won’t have to pray
And I won’t have to see you cry

Maybe one day
I won’t be this way
Until then we’ll get by

You’re probably thinking, “Wow, she’s ripping apart a dude who wrote a song about autism. What an asshole that asshole is, and she has asshole friends too!” But let me explain. The dude who wrote the song isn’t autistic. He wrote it for a parent of twins with autism. And although I’m not autistic, as someone with a disability, some of the lines make me want to hurl.

Let’s start with the biggest thing. He passes this song off as if it was written by a kid with Autism and is expressing how he feels. Nope. This guy is trying to imagine how the kid feels and how the parents feel about it. There is something extra terrible about trying to be the voice of someone who already has trouble communicating and then projecting someone else’s feelings on that person. There is a difference between helping someone find their own means of expression and deciding that you know better than them how they feel. This seems like the second. What especially makes me want to barf is when he starts saying that the kid wants to be cured. He has no idea. Maybe the kid just wants to be understood by his family. Maybe he wants to be enabled to communicate but in his own way. Maybe he wants his world and his parents’ world to meet somewhere so they can live happily. The prison that he is in is created not by his autism necessarily, but by people’s inability to figure out what makes perfect sense to him.

Many people can’t get their heads around the idea that not all people with disabilities want to be “fixed”. We’re mostly perfectly happy with how we are. We just wish people would remember that we exist and consider a couple of things that would make our lives easier. It is often said that disability has less to do with something being wrong with the person, and has more to do with a mismatch between a person and the environment. Living in a world full of print and no other medium makes a blind person feel more disabled. Walking into a crowded bar makes a deaf person feel more disabled. Encountering a giant curb instead of a curb cut makes a person in a wheelchair feel more disabled. You get my point? I don’t want to say we all feel this way, but there are a lot that do. Heck, there is a whole movement called neurodiversity which emphasizes that things like autism are just a difference in brain wiring rather than a problem to be solved.

If he wanted to write a song for parents about the struggles they deal with, that’s one thing. Everybody needs to be understood sometimes. But don’t try to say this song sums up how the kid feels. Be honest about the song’s purpose. It’s a lot less gross that way.

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