how to make the world a better place – by jess


Ed note: I try really hard to keep things clean around here. I know it’s a family show, after all, and the language should therefore be family friendly. Sometimes, however, a girl’s just gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And today, this girl’s just gotta curse. 

I tried to write this post using a word other than the one that starts w A and rhymes with bassmole, but I found that it really just didn’t work. So, if you’re uncomfortable with colorful language (specifically that one word) – I’d respectfully suggest that you stop reading here and come on back tomorrow. No hard feelings, I promise.

Look, I’ll even post a picture of a unicorn for you to look at as you shut the page down. 


Who doesn’t love a good unicorn?


Okay, so for those of you who decided to stay, thank you. I appreciate you sticking it out. Here goes …


A couple of days ago, a friend came to me and a couple of other Mama friends with a second-hand question. A friend of hers runs a small company. He had recently hired Joe, a gentleman with Asperger’s. He described him as a good employee and a nice guy. But he had a problem.

It seems that some of the other employees were laughing at Joe behind his back. Nothing serious, he explained, but, well, Joe had some behaviors that could be kinda odd and since the others didn’t know that he had Asperger’s, all they saw was the odd.

The boss came to my friend to ask her advice in how to handle the situation. He wanted to speak to the other employees individually and explain Joe’s odd behavior to them, but was very concerned that doing so might be disrespectful of Joe’s right to privacy. He wasn’t comfortable approaching Joe about it directly and therefore found himself in a bit of a conundrum.

I thought long and hard about it (or not) and offered my best advice.

Sounds like a great boss. Can’t he talk to the employees without revealing the diagnosis (if Joe would prefer that he not)?

Like “Hey, the guy’s a little different. Don’t be an asshole.”

I spend a lot of time thinking about how to make the world a better place for my children – and specifically for children like Brooke and the kind of adults that they will grow up to be. And while making the world more aware of the telltale signs of autism is part of that mission, it’s really – like REALLY, REALLY – not the end-goal.

In part because autism just looks so damned different in different people, I think it’s nearly impossible to install reliable Autism Radar in the entire neurotypical population. It just ain’t gonna happen. But it really doesn’t make much of a difference, because it’s still not the point.

If we’re doing our jobs as parents – hell, if we’re doing our job as PEOPLE – then it really shouldn’t matter whether we recognize someone as autistic or not. If we are alert to one another’s needs, to how we can, in the simplest ways, help to remove obstacles for one another, offer support to each other, create an environment in which everyone feels seen, safe, celebrated and included, well, the labels really aren’t even relevent, are they?

Now, I know that this may be confusing to some folks. The simplest things so often are. So I’ve decided to make a flow chart. Cause just like a good unicorn picture, who doesn’t like a flow chart, right?

We’re going to call this How to Make The World Better – by Jess.




Please feel free to print it out, laminate it, and put it in your wallet.

Consult it often.

And if you find yourself laughing behind the back of the goofy guy at work, getting frustrated with the grocery bagger who got a little flustered at the market, standing by silently while your kids are teasing the Joe on the playground, or ever, EVER saying, “What a retard” …

Trust me.

You’re being an asshole.


We can all make the world a better place.

And really, it has nothing to do with autism.


36 thoughts on “how to make the world a better place – by jess

  1. First of all I have to say I love unicorns! Great post!
    Okay anyways- People think I am odd. People think that my son is odd. In the adult world adults sometimes are more understanding although I guess it depends where you work. I work with a lot of doctors – MD & PhD and so well there is a lot of “oddness” so people generally just go with it. Would be interesting to know how many of us really are autistic.

    My son struggles the worst. The teachers were no help at all. I kept trying to get them to do more inclusion training. I tried explaining that maybe they should teach more about how differences and uniqueness or oddness is okay. Wouldn’t that help everyone? Suzy likes girls- okay don’t be an asshole just because that is different. My son gave a lecture on world war weaponry during history class – okay maybe that wasn’t in the teachers plan, and maybe that was odd to the other students but heckling him was really being an asshole.

    I really don’t care about the swearing- that little algorhythm should be posted everywhere! My son asked to be homeschooled to get away from the assholes. I realized no matter what the school did or how many times teachers tried to accomodate him, or we tried to help my son, the other kids were going to be assholes. It really needs to be a culture shift to embrace differences. It really isn’t that hard. Don’t be an asshole!

    • My gosh, we share the same son. From the WW weaponry (specifically WWII for mine) to the asking to be home schooled. Carry on with yo bad self, mom.

  2. Love this. I’ve always said, if I can raise empathetic and loving children, then I’ve done things right. Pierce came home and used the word retarded about a month ago. We talked about where he heard that and why I don’t want to hear him using that. He got it but he said, mrs. B uses it all the time. So I talked with mrs. B and she laughed it off–didn’t get it. She actually thought i was being too sensitive. Sometimes you can try to educate and talk through things but bassmoles will be bassmoles. All we can do is try……xo

  3. Unicorns and flow charts, WOW you really know how to spoil a girl. Have a stack of the flow charts on my desk to start handing out to co-workers today.

    Once again you hit it out of the park.

  4. For the swearing-squeamish, you could always subsitute JERKFACE for A-hole. 😉 Wonder if we could get a group discount somewhere like Snapfish r Staples? 😉

  5. I hate it, but the world seems more tolerant of assholes than our unicorns. “Autism is not a choice, but being an asshole is”.

  6. Amen… it’s for everyone, everywhere, anytime, any day… it’s called being HUMANE. Just like common sense is not so ‘common’, humanity is NOT very ‘humane’ these days. Being inconsiderate, rude, or hurtful effects anyone who comes in contact with it – not just “our kids”.

    I love your logic, your verbiage, and especially the flowchart. I think I’ll put that on my key chain, so it’s always handy!

  7. This deserves to go viral. I would like to hand out these cards to parents at our middle school, especially to the ones who have kids who called our 6th grader a faggot last week.

  8. Thank you….this is exactly what I have been looking for! There are too many opportunities in this world where your chart is necessary. I need to make some for the younger set too…maybe substitute “snothead” for @#&hole …..but the kids who keep staring at my daighter and asking “what is she doing?” …when all she does is laugh and jump and express her joy, when she is happy…..need the chart too!

  9. I was treated as a “weirdo” and called names just because I was an Army brat who hadn’t grown up with everyone in [name of the town we lived in 1-3 years before moving again] since, oh, conception and was *always* coming from a different culture (see: Army brat, above). It takes so little to be considered weird and verbally abused because of it.

    I’m just amazed at how many parents, teachers, and other “adults” still don’t get it.

  10. I have to admit that I may have been an a–hole in the past. I used to think that screaming kids were just brats,, and I may have even shot a dirty look at the kid’s parents, but your blog has really taught me that my first thought of “that kid’s a brat” is unfair. I now try my best to live by the saying “Be kind to everyone – you never know who is fighting a harder battle” (paraphrased). So now I realize that some kids are brats, and some kids struggle with the noise, or the crowds, or what-have-you and it’s not my place to judge (or, for that matter, pity) them, or to label them. It’s my job as a human being to be respectful and understanding and give the benefit of the doubt. I may not be so kind and polite in my head, but I CANNOT let any a–holeness leave my head. It’s just not fair. (I’m working on kicking the a–hole out of my head too!)
    Thank you for this blog, and for teaching the world to be accepting of everyone – no questions asked.

  11. I realized at some point on this road of autism that we have been, in essence, granted a gift to see the world in a different way. Those “strange” people or people doing “annoying” things may not really be what they may seem. My level of understanding and acceptance has increased. I see the great things all people have to offer this world. I guess you have now made me realize I need to do a better job of passing on this perspective to the people in my life. Thank you for the reminder!

  12. Loved the purple unicorn. my first thought when you mentioned flowcharts was “Me. I’m the one who hates flowcharts, so many lines and arrows”. Then I read your flowchart, embraced it, and thought, yes. That’s what we need to change the world. Some may say “Love one another” (yes, even people who are different or hard to love). That tells us how to treat others. You’ve given us instruction on how we should behave. Go on being your bad self!

  13. I shared this on facebook and a LOT of others have reshared my share…does that make sense. One professor said she is going to share your flow chart with her class. It’s perfect.

  14. Did I miss something? I guess I don’t get what all the fuss is so please excuse me if I am talking out of my arse here. How I am understanding this scenario just doesn’t seem like it should be a big issue. Basically, Boss is concerned that co-worker’s are behaving inappropriately behind Joe’s back and what should he do about it. Yes?

    We all know that this should be easy: Boss talks to the co-workers without disclosing the dx but just reminds them what it is to be human and with that comes diversity. Yadda yadda… Their inappropriate behavior needs to stop. Period. Right? BUT we all know that there are folks in this world that will not stop with that explanation/reminder (call it what you will). If plan A fails, what is wrong with Boss talking to Joe? He could ask JOE what he would like it to be handled. And, honestly, what’s wrong with the Boss asking Joe about how he feels about disclosing his Asperger’s? Should Joe HAVE to disclose his dx? NO, absolutely not. BUT, again, we all know that sometimes people just need more explanation. And I think that is okay sometimes. We want the world to make some accommodations for those on the spectrum but I think in many cases it is reasonable for the world to expect some conformation to the it. (Does that make sense?) Coming from my perspective, yes, I do want some accommodations and understanding and acceptance for my son with PDD-NOS, but I also know that he is capable of learning some social appropriateness. So, some of the responsibility will be on my son to perhaps explain why he does some of the things he does and even learn to conform somewhat in his future workplace to be successful (God willing!!!) This could be a perfect teaching moment for Joe. While advocating for himself in this situation he can also educate his co-workers (and his boss). And, perhaps this will lead to understanding and acceptance.

    Will this work for everyone on the spectrum? Is it even appropriate for everyone on the spectrum? NO! But in this scenario, I think it’s a great start for opportunity for peer education!

    So, if I missed the boat on the whole point of this post….in the words of Gilda Radner (as Emily Litella) “Never mind.”


  15. Great post for the whole world to see! It, and many of the comments, reminded me of the following.

    I’ve been watching a SyFy show called Alphas lately and I particularly adore the young adult high-functioning autistic character Gary. There is one truly fantastic bit of dialogue when Gary is participating in an investigation that lands him in a high school. One of the jocks walks up to him, laughs at his tic, and says,
    “I didn’t know they allowed r*****s here.”
    To which Gary replies,
    “You shouldn’t use that word. I’m autistic. *You’re* r*****ed.”

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