Posts Tagged ‘sexual harassment’

What’s the fuss about?

I see the excitement. I see the shopping bags crammed with new stuff. I don’t see what the fuss is about. Mum explains that my brother is leaving for college. They tell me brother will not be with us for many days at a time. Where does he sleep? I don’t think I like this at all. He belongs here at home. Like it has been for the past 18 years. I mean, I went to college and I came home everyday. I know what you’re thinking…. me, an autistic guy in college?? Yeah right! I did go to college… kidding.

I was selected to attend a culinary and kitchen basics course for 4 months under a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program that offers opportunities for special people like me to learn new skills. I even wore proper chef attire minus the tall hat. However I have a deep unexplainable fear of fire and heat. On top of that I can only manage two instructions at any one time. You cannot imagine how difficult this was for someone like me.

So why did I agree? Simply because I need new life experiences, need to keep moving and learning to make sure I stay on the edge and not get sucked into the Black Hole of autism.

Mum was nervous that lack of awareness about my disability may lead to some bad incident. Unfortunately she was right. Don’t get me wrong. I was never bullied. The other students were cool about having someone like me around. They probably thought of me as ‘the weird one’. I don’t blame them cause I do weird stuff like word repetition and smiling to myself. Sadly, what happened was a female lecturer accused me of sexual harassment. I have no freaking idea what that means!. You see, even though my body reached puberty, my maturity did not progress beyond the mentality of a 12-year old with a sexual awareness of a 7-year old. On a particularly stressful day in class I had made an honest mistake of touching her arm to get her attention and said “need help”. She chose to translate it as a threat. Mum said many things about that ‘ignorant, arrogant woman‘ but under that anger was a deep sadness. She knew it was just another peek of what difficulties lie ahead of me. I’m still trying to grasp this puzzling concept of personal space. Mum tried to “un-teach” me the physical act of asking for help but its hard to undo what was taught to me by my American speech therapist and Finnish occupational therapist. Sue and Mrs F, how much better this world would be with compassionate educators like yourselves. Though I have not seen you both since I was 6 years old I will be forever grateful for your love and kindness.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around”- Leo Buscaglia