Writing about writing on a cake

Let`s talk about the cake story.  You know the one; woman goes in to a shop, buys a cake, it has messy writing on, and she finds out the girl who wrote it is autistic.  Moral of the story is be kind.  We all know it by now.  But what I want to talk about in this blog is how different people reacted to it – both in positive and negative ways.  Some people, a lot of people, loved it.  It made their day.  Some people were indifferent, and some people flat-out hated it.  Who was right? And why?

The people who loved it said that the story was heartwarming, it made them happy to think of someone being so kind to a person with autism.  A lot of autistic people liked it as it made them feel as if getting a job was not beyond them.  Parents of people with autism seemed to feel the same way.  It was, to the people who viewed it this way, a positive story in the middle of a lot of bad news.

Some people were totally indifferent.  A friend of mine told me her sister showed her the story.  My friends reaction was something like this ” So a woman bought a cake?”  She wanted to check with me, as I have autism, what I thought of the story and I told her that I felt pretty much the same as she did.  She just could not get what the big deal was with a woman going out, and buying a cake.

What about people who did not like the cake story?  Some people did say, in the wake of the cake story being on everyone’s news feed, that it in fact did more harm than good.  It can be read as saying that having a normal human interaction with an autistic person is, in and of itself, an act of kindness.  That treating autistic people with any level of respect should be seen as heartwarming.

So who is right?  I know it`s not that easy so perhaps I should rephrase that.  What do I think might be a better thing to talk about?  I can’t say it`s right, all I can say is that it is what I feel. I fall in to the camp that thinks of it as a negative thing.  It feels to me like those awkward times when your hear an older person saying something like ” He is black, but he is such a good Dad.” They think they mean well, and are trying their best to be kind, but it just comes out all wrong!  The implication obviously being that the majority of black men would not make good Dads.  Even though this isn`t stated, the racism is still there.  I totally see that the woman who first posted this just thought she had done something kind as she was told she`d made someone’s day.  I don’t blame her, or think she is bad.  And I don’t think you`re bad or nasty if you share this or enjoy it.  I just think it`s misguided.

Let me explain why, instead of just saying I don’t like it.  First of all I genuinely do not see the big deal here. Woman buys cake. That’s all I get from the story.  I might well be missing something, and if I am point it out to me!  But what it feels like to me is that just because the woman who wrote on the cake was autistic this buying of a cake became an act of kindness.  I don’t see the big deal and yet whenever I ask anyone what it is all they tell me it`s “Its cute.” or “it`s a feel good story.”  I might be over-thinking this, but I am autistic so that’s kind of what I do.   So bear with me here for a minute. I think stories like this do a lot more harm than good for autistic people.  If someone comes out and says “Autistic people are only there to make me feel good or to be pitied”  Then everybody would react. It`s right there in your face.  But things like this I feel are part of an insidious movement that seems to say just that, without even meaning to.  It feels like we are at a point where if a non-autistic  person decides not to bully, or to just interact normally with someone who is autistic, we celebrate them.

Should she not just be doing that anyway?  Why is just not shouting at, or bullying someone an act of kindness. It`s basically just how we should be all the time with anyone.  What gets me is quite how much people seem to love this story?  You can say I am reading too much in to a happy story if you like, and you are free to disagree with everything I have said.  But I still feel how I feel.  I can’t help the fact that this story seems all wrong on so many levels to me.

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