When I Was Eleven

When one is around eleven or twelve years of age, one is intelligent enough to understand what is wrong and right in the world, but one still sees things with a black and white child’s eye and one still has not developed the ability to disregard emotions. This is especially true for intelligent people with Asperger’s. When I was eleven, there were many injustices that bothered me. Children being forced into poverty because the parent who makes money, and not the child, committed a crime for which the parent needs to go to jail. Palestinian families having their house bombed because one person in the family plotted a terrorist act. Children being forced to undergo medical treatments with grave side effects when adults are able to opt out. Innocent people being held without bail before they are proven guilty. Not everyone saw these as injustices, my parents being among them, but I saw them as injustices. These things were very unfair and people should not have let them happen.

I know of one other person with Asperger’s who became highly disturbed at age eleven because of an injustice she learned about- Greta Thunberg. When her class watched a video of the negative effects of climate change and learned countries are not doing enough to stop it, she became so disturbed that she stopped talking for some time. Maybe I did not stop talking, on the contrary I kept being up these issues and tried in vain to convince my parents to agree with me. There is another difference between Greta’s parents and mine. Greta’s parents, who at first were skeptical, eventually sided with her views. Not only that, but they changed their lifestyle to better embrace the things her daughter held dear. They largely stopped eating natural resource intensive meat and even stopped flying, despite the impact it had on the mother’s opera career. My parents were not like that. Not only did they not change their lifestyle (which I would not have expected them to), but they shamed me. They shamed me for talking about them all the time. They complained to my behavorists about this. While they did not quite shame me for my views, they strongly disagreed with me and told me that I did not understand the whole picture. But I did understand enough. I understood that these things were not fair, and as such maybe better approaches that were more fair were needed. Because Greta’s parents were so highly supportive of her views, Great is now such a passionate activist who gets the world to listen. I, on the other hand, was pressured to conceal my views and to stop thinking about them.

My parents would probably like to argue that they were right in opposing me because, unlike Greta, I also had behavioral problems. I am not sure what problems Greta might have had at school (though I would imagine it was less than me because she is female), but because I had more problems at school I got treated worse and thus had even more of an understanding of the suffering of people than Greta could have. I am sorry to say this, but Greta is a privileged teenager from a country that will be one of the least negatively affected by climate change. Some might also say the things I was concerned about were not important issues. Well, it depends on who you ask. There are many people who say that climate change will not happen, or that its consequences will not be very serious. People might say that climate change is less of a controversial issue than the things I was most concerned with. Well, as I stated above, climate change is also very controversial.

This opposing did not only occur when I was eleven, but continued into my adulthood as I focused on other things, such as criminals’ rights. For example, I was very much against forcing sex offenders to reveal themselves to their neighbors and to continue punishing them after they completed their prison sentence. I saw criminals, including sex offenders, as human beings who made a mistake and that, while they maybe should have been punished, should go free after having served their time and should be treated with mercy and dignity. Whenever I brought this up to my mother, she would refuse to talk about it and told me I should not even talk about it with anyone else.

I still by and large believe in the human rights I believed in when I was eleven, though they are not quite top of my list now. I was happy when people spoke out against separating children from their parents at the border and against deporting people who came to the United States illegally as children. Children should not be punished for things they did not decide to do but that the adults in their lives did. And please, mom and dad, stop opposing me for my views, and do not tell me not to talk about them, even if they are controversial. Try to understand my more just views and to side with me. So dad, don’t tell me that what Trump is doing at the border is right. And to everyone else who thinks otherwise about my views, please try to be more understanding.

And I hope Greta keeps up the good work. Her fight is very noble. This fight, as well as the opinions I used to have and still have, shows that people with Asperger’s do have empathy. Even if we do not express it in the neurotypical ways, the fact that we have these opinions about others who suffer unjustly shows that we do have empathy. As such, having our views should be encouraged. By shaming me for talking about these things, I was also made to feel more ashamed of myself, and I was told that I was more selfish- and less human- than I actually was.

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