Autism Lessons from Zootopia
By Trevor Pacelli
We all know about the heavily blunt themes of prejudice and racism in Zootopia, and it’s no secret that the treatment between predators and prey disturbingly parallels our own society. Say whatever you can about the treatment between the police and Blacks, or politicians and immigrants, or virtually any religious group against a much greater body, but the one piece of unfair prejudice I would like to discuss relates to how everybody has some form of unfair opinions about people with autism.
Every day I come across people who look down upon me because they know that I am “different” from everybody else. Even if somebody is trying to be accepting and friendly to me, they still set me aside to give more attention to their other “normal” friends. I will admit, I am not much of a talker, and socializing is relatively difficult for me. You also could call me “not the most fun talker,” not to be self-degrading. But from my experiences out in a crowd, I often feel that although people may feel they’re accepting me and giving me a fair treatment, they really just say a few brief sentences, get uncomfortable, then move on to chat with someone else. Now, this doesn’t happen all the time, but it has still been common with many of my interactions. Despite people’s self-assumptions, they can still unintentionally shun a person with autism because of their blatant differences.
Even I myself have been prejudiced towards others on the spectrum. I admit that I have quite often avoided interaction with people who I knew were mentally disabled. Like most others, I felt my most comfortable around people who had no mental disabilities. Even if I tried to look like I was accepting of people with autism, Asperger’s, Down Syndrome, or anything related to such, you could probably tell I was my most enthusiastically social around “normal” people.
Yes, I admit. Even we autistics are guilty of unintended prejudice against autistics.
It’s just like in Zootopia. Judy Hopps felt that with all the hatred and prejudice that the prey were pressing onto the predators, that she was different in the way she interacted with them. She felt that working with Nick Wilde on her case proves how accepting she was relative to everyone else. But it turns out she was still just as prejudiced as all other prey in Zootopia, as she still carried around fox repellant out of fear that all foxes were bullies out to get her. We all are guilty of prejudice, no matter what we may think.
But there’s one absolutely crucial point to keep in mind:
Six-Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome, Lesson #32: First Impressions Rarely Reveal True Character.
After working with Nick Wilde for some time, and learning more about him, Judy learns that this fox is not quite as mean or deceptive as he looked upon first impression. Just ask either of my parents what they thought about raising a child with autism, and they could easily tell you this:
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Don’t Underestimate His Life Skills Abilities.
They probably didn’t think I would be able to drive, but I got my license at 16. They probably didn’t think I would ever go to college, but I did, and graduated with honors. Hearing one thing about a similar person with me does not automatically conclude what future I am destined to hold. The same goes to everybody else simplified to a label:
Not all blondes are dumb. Not all Asians are mathematical geniuses. Not all Christians are street protestors. Not all single mothers are emotionally distressed. Not all savants are hopeless in functioning in society. We are a beautifully diverse world with cultures as varied as the animal kingdom, one where no two people are ever the same. It’s time we realize how different we all are and see every individual as unique.
Read full movie review of Zootopia.
Thanks so much for your time in reading! My book Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic is available on Amazon, Kindle, and iBooks. -- Trevor Pacelli, TrevorsViewonHollywood.com
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Inspiration for Life with Autism
This blog has a variety of articles about people living life with autism, and topics and ideas that can help in the journey. Guest bloggers are welcome. Inspired by Trevor, a young adult film critic, photographer and college graduate on the autism spectrum.