The Caffeinated Autistic celebrates 1000 Ausome Things

I meant to write a post on my birthday (a week ago today) and failed. April is always a difficult month for a variety of personal reasons, but it’s become even more so with the knowledge that April is Autism Awareness month. I have seen far too many blue puzzle pieces or rainbow puzzle ribbons.

But today isn’t about that. Today is Autism Positivity day, and I’m going to tell you the best things about being autistic, for me.

1. Obsessions. I never really understand why people consider this a negative trait, and refuse to allow autistic children to indulge in their obsessions, rather than using them as an opportunity to learn (or even maybe as a reward if it’s difficult to use it in education). If you meet me in person, I can guarantee you that at some point in time, I will launch into an infodump about why Sherlock Holmes is autistic, why all the female characters are amazeballs, why Susan Pevensie’s ending was the saddest thing I’ve ever read and why I hate C.S. Lewis for what he did to her, and why platonic friendships in all sorts of media aren’t specific to gender and are amazing. Just to name a few.

2. Stimming. There is angry stimming and panicky stimming, and the cause of these is no fun, but stimming itself is AWESOME. And I’ve handflapped and rocked in happiness and contentment and drew patterns over the skin of a fellow autistic person. And co-stimming with another autistic person is by far one of the best things to do.

3. Another way of thinking. This isn’t very concrete, but I find more and more that I think I’m thinking in a similar manner to a neurotypical person, but then I mention what I’m thinking out loud and yeah, I’m not. But so many times, this means I have the solution to a problem that no one else thought of, and sometimes? This makes the life of an autistic child better because their parents get it because I was able to articulate it.

4. Repetition is amazing. This applies to so much and has to do with echolalia as well as repetitive movements like stimming, but also? It is why I am good at my job. I’ve been employed for just 2 1/2 months, and you’d think that isn’t even long enough to be good at my job, but I’ve already been training people. I’m fast and accurate and no one at my job but me likes being in the back because it’s boring, and yeah, when it’s slow, it is, but it’s repetitive and perfect and lovely.

5. Language. Language and words are fantastic and I’ve been an avid reader since I learned right before my 4th birthday – when I apparently taught myself. I was reading at a post high school level in the 2nd grade, and I was often in trouble for trying to read novels behind my science textbooks. I majored in English in college, and even taught it myself for two years (a job that I found too stressful because of red tape and paperwork). I love words, and I love what they can do, the images they can evoke, or the things they do to my ears when they’re spoken. There’s a segment from an episode of Sesame Street that includes the phrase “lilting Liliputian lullaby”, and isn’t that just the best thing to say and hear?

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New comment policy

I am 100% okay with disagreeing with people. But when you use the same tired, nonfactual arguments to make your points, and you insult me and people I care about, that isn’t okay.

I’ve turned on comment moderation for all comments.

This is my home. You are a guest and we can have a reasonable discussion. You can be angry. But you won’t hurt me or my friends. You won’t crap on the rug or trash my living room, and I won’t find my couch cushion in the bathtub. This isn’t tone policing. I am okay with anger, with frustration, with rage. What I’m not okay with is hateful attitudes toward me for wanting to be treated as though I’m human. As though I’m deserving of love and respect, and that I’m not a broken object to be fixed.

You aren’t my friend if you Light it Up Blue

Today is World Autism Day. Today, many people have participated in “Light it Up Blue”. I am not one of them.

Please do not misunderstand. I am not trying to ignore autism. I am not trying to say acknowledgment of autism and the move toward greater awareness is a bad thing.

But you are not my friend if you participate KNOWINGLY in an event that was created by an organization who portrays autistic people as burdens, who for a long time were very anti-vaccine in their rhetoric, who have filmed a then-member of their board talking about her thoughts about killing her autistic child and herself (but didn’t because her NT child needed her), and who silences autistic people, removing the very mention of us from our own stories, because clearly, portraying us as capable would ruin the image they are attempting to portray of us. This organization, of course, is Autism Speaks. If you don’t know the detailed reasons why they do not speak for many autistic people, please read my link here.

Today isn’t a very pleasant day for me. I was, thankfully, spared from much of the Light it Up Blue hoopla. I apparently do well in choosing my Facebook friends, for the most part. But I had a few moments that brought me to unwelcome tears. One of those was a longtime friend of mine (not a very close friend, but still a friend) posting information for another friend about curing autism with essential oils and how antidepressants in pregnancy cause autism. I was hurt, amd how do you explain that? How do you explain “this is hurtful because you believe my neurotype is inferior and needs to be fixed rather an accepted” when you think it should be self explanatory?

The truth of the matter is, I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to explain that, and anyone who brushes me off as an angry autistic, well, yes, you’re right. But it gets tiring defending my right to exist and be treated like a human being. This goes for many other forms of oppression, too, so please don’t believe that I think this is exclusive to autism. It absolutely is not.

If I were to write a letter to the world about what World Autism day is about for me, this is what I would say.

We have always been here among you. Please do not fear the increase in diagnoses because of advances in medical care. We are not scary, and we are different, but we are no less worthy of love and understanding. We deserve to exist and to be accepted for who we are. We need access to medical care of our choosing. We need a voice that belongs to us, not our parents, caretakers, teachers or therapists. Listen to us. We may not all speak your language. We aren’t a monolith. Pay attention. And learn.