My name is Leanne Strong, I’m 23 years old, and I have Asperger’s syndrome (milder autism, little to no difficulty with speech or cognitive skills). As you may know, a lot of people who have autism understand things in a very rigid and concrete manner, and our understanding of fairness is no exception to this. When children are younger (in preschool or early elementary school age), the adults and older children in their lives teach them they have to be fair all the time and that fairness means nobody gets an extra cupcake, or everyone gets the exact same number of birthday or holiday presents. By the preteen or teen years, however, most neurotypical children have realized (or are starting to realize) that the definition of fairness that adults and older children once taught them is not always the correct one. They have realized that fairness sometimes means making sure everyone is happy with what they get, rather than using the exact same tactics with everyone. Many people who have autism may continue to understand fairness as treating everyone exactly the same well into adulthood, unless it has been explained to them otherwise.
If I felt like my parents were letting my brother (two years younger than me, and without disabilities) off easy for something that would have earned me a good talking to when I was his age, I would think it wasn’t fair. That wasn’t because I thought he needed or deserved stricter discipline than what he was getting, or because I didn’t think I needed or deserved the discipline I was getting. It was because it didn’t look exactly the same as what I would have gotten when I was his age.
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