The Diversity of Character

Penny - Del Mar, California
Entered on June 23, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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In the modern world the media is everywhere. The media is constantly pressuring us to manipulate our bodies and personalities to fit the type of person that it promotes. But thankfully, I think, that type of person is not everyone.

I volunteer at a group therapy session for teenagers with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of Autism. At these sessions I am constantly reminded that a uniform mold of personality and behavior does not fit everyone.

The teenagers that I volunteer with are different. They, like many with Asperger’s Syndrome, do not pick up on social cues, and at times seem awkward in typical social situations. Their difficulty in understanding the unwritten rules of society can make it a struggle to carry out the basic exchanges of human interaction. Despite the challenges they face on a daily basis, I admire the diversity they bring to the world.

Dr. Temple Grandin, a prominent adult with Autism, once wrote: “Aware adults with Autism and their parents are often angry about Autism. They may ask why nature or God created such horrible conditions as Autism, manic depression, and schizophrenia. However, if the genes that caused these conditions were eliminated there might be a terrible price to pay.”

The price to pay would be a loss of the unique ways of looking at life that people with Asperger’s bring to the world. In the different perspectives that they contribute to society, people with Asperger’s make life more interesting and broaden the minds of those considered normal.

More than anything, I believe in the value of diversity of personality and character. In a society in which most people are afraid to admit their divergence from normality, the diverse personalities of the teenagers with Asperger’s Syndrome are an example of individuality for everyone. They are open about their eccentricities and uninhibited by the social constraints that bind most of us. They are interesting, complex people and for a sixteen-year-old girl like myself, I think that those are rare qualities to come across in anybody. It is of the utmost importance that we nurture our individuality and be proud of the idiosyncrasies that make us human.