Autism Acceptance Day Wish List

Anonymously Autistic

This year for Autism Acceptance Day I have five wishes. Some day they may come true – then my work blogging will be complete.

  1. I wish everyone would be aware of Autism, what it really is, and what it really isn’t. Too many misconceptions about Autism are out there, what causes Autism, what Autistic people need. Someday I hope the rest of the world can accept the truth.
  2. I wish Autistic people could be accepted for who they are. In my dreams People would not ask us to change or be more “normal”. Sitting a chair, rocking back and forth while humming would not be thought of as strange. Eye contact would not be forced and passing would be a thing of the past.
  3. I wish Autistic women and adults would stop being overlooked. The media, Autism organizations, and Autism service providers are often focused only on children. People seem…

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Okay, so it’s April… let the awareness onslaught begin

Aspie Under Your Radar

rear view mirror of a line of military vehicles driving through the snowIt’s hard to not feel like “they’re coming for us”.
(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer D. Atkinson/Released)

I’m starting my day out right – with exercise of two kinds: riding my exercise bike for 20 minutes, then following with 10 minutes of light weight training. I had my “fluffy egg” — a whipped egg I cook in a non-stick pan with a plate laid over the top, so the egg fluffs up and turns into a kind of souffle (till I remove it from the stove and it collapses). I sip my 1/2 cup of coffee while I eat my fluffy egg, I take my Vitamin D3 and B-Complex, then I sit down to write and read, with a banana, a big cup of water, and what remains of my coffee.

It’s April! I need to take care of myself, for sure. The whole turn-on-blue-light-bulbs thing…

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Autism ‘awareness’ is not enough 

the silent wave

Welcome to the 2017 edition of Autism “Awareness” Month (heh).  This month, I will probably reveal my Activist Face a bit <grin>.  I’ll try to keep The Feisty to a minimum, and logic and bride-building at the control panel, although there may be times when I get a little…impassioned. 🙂

…Especially when talking about Autism “awareness” Month, and Autism “awareness” itself.

All over the globe, various people will parrot these words, probably hundreds of thousands of times over.  But I dare say that they probably don’t know what they’re really talking about.  The vast majority of them may not realize that they’re missing the point.

April is often a time of depression for those of us on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, for these very reasons.  Because “awareness” is not trueAwareness.  The way in which this “awareness” is carried out can be detrimental to our wellbeing, for we are constantly…

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DSM Criteria For Autism Explained

So Much Stranger, So Much Darker, So Much Madder, So Much Better

When looking into a potential autism diagnosis, it can be hard to understand all of the language surrounding autism. There is so much pathologized language that presents all behavior as negative as well as being difficult to understand. Thus, I have taken the DSM-V criteria for autism and broken them down into examples of how each criteria can be met. Each section heading and criteria heading has been left with the original language of the DSM however the examples are meant to be a more inclusive and more positive take on autistic traits.

Please note that in order to qualify for a professional diagnosis, one must meet all three criteria from section A, two of four for section B, and sections C, D, and E.

A. “Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by the following, currently or by history (examples are illustrative, not…

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You Don’t Speak For Us

This is beautiful.

So Much Stranger, So Much Darker, So Much Madder, So Much Better

You say it’s time to listen

You say that autism speaks

You say you care about “people with autism”

So maybe it’s time to actually listen

We don’t want your awareness

What we need is acceptance

For you to see us as we are

And accept us, autism and all

We are not puzzles missing pieces

We are full, complete human beings

Just because you don’t understand

Doesn’t mean that we are incomplete

All of us communicate

Yes, even those who don’t speak verbally

We communicate through many means

We sign and type and point and emote

We communicate with our bodies

Through those movements you deem pointless

Our behavior is communication

Are you willing to listen?

We are as diverse as you

Each autistic their own shade

Of the beautiful rainbow of neurodiversity

None eclipsing the others

We are not an epidemic or tragedy

We are not burdens to…

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Accept or Except?

the silent wave

Autism Awareness Month is coming.  Soon, all the world will co-opt a mysterious blue hue, which is a questionably-intended, definitely-misguided mission.

I don’t know a single person who isn’t aware of the existence of autism.  And outside my circle of friends and a precious few select professionals, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have the completely-wrong impression.

The so-called “charities” (I’m talking about the not-so-good ones here; certainly not all of them are like this) and the so-called “experts” have etched their mark.  Their message is out there, so loud and so clear that often, one can’t help but trip over it, and their impact is formidable.  They’ve said their piece, but the first problem is, it’s not just “inaccurate”–it’s wrong.  The second problem is, they keep saying it.  Ad nauseum.  That will get its own post, probably several.

Having heard the term and understanding and embracing what…

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How Could the World Be More Autism Friendly

Anonymously Autistic

Those who know me, and the readers who’ve followed long enough, are well aware that I like to focus on the positive. My last post was not the happiest because life has been hard and it is wearing on me.

We’ve been having conversations in the comments on this site and on Twitter. Talking about all of the problems and hardships Autistic people face in the world. In general I feel like focusing on your problems all the time can be a very dangerous thing. Shifting our attention to solutions tends to be much more effective.

Today I would like to write about my dream world – a world that is more friendly to Autistic people. Maybe some day, long after I am gone, it will be a reality.

It is a beautiful place, where there are always quiet spaces to get away when you need a private moment.  Every…

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My Journey to Discovering my Gender and Sexuality

Gender

For as long as I can remember, I have never understood gender. I have always been fine with she/her pronouns and never really had a problem with being called a girl, yet I also never really felt like a girl. I was (and still am) very confused with the idea of gender roles, but it went further than that; I was just as puzzled by the whole idea of gender. I knew I wasn’t transgender, because I didn’t like he/him pronouns and didn’t want to have a typically male body, but I knew I wasn’t 100% comfortable with my body and my gender the way I was. As a child, I never really minded if I was mistaken for a boy, I wore clothes from the boys section, I was considered a tomboy, and I wanted to have my hair cut short, but I was never allowed. But I never felt uncomfortable in my body; I was just a bit confused.

But as I hit puberty, my issues with my gender became a lot more pronounced. I was suddenly expected to shave my legs and my armpits, and was very confused when I discovered that the boys weren’t, despite their hair being even thicker. When I was thirteen, I finally succeeded in getting my mum to let me have my hair cut short; it got me bullied, but I felt a lot happier with short hair. In sex education in year 9, they split the girls and boys up for an hour. The boys had a session about shaving, and the girls… our lesson was about makeup. This annoyed me, and I spent the session muttering about the boys who might want to wear makeup and why I was assumed to want to wear it just because I was a girl (at least, when I wasn’t having a reaction to the foundation my friend made me put on; I spent the rest of the day with a very red, itchy patch on my face).

But the biggest issue I had was with the changes in my body shape. I hated how wide my hips became, and my narrow waist really annoyed me. I had the biggest hatred for my breasts. I have always been on the chubby side, and this meant that my breasts were rather large. I hated them, and I still do. I hated wearing a bra, I hated the way they hurt when I had PMS, I hated the way they bounced when I ran, I hated the way the boys stared at my chest, and, most of all, I hated seeing them when I was getting dressed or in the shower. I never knew how to explain it, but I hated them with a passion. They made me uncomfortable, and sometimes made me want to cry. I don’t think my mum understood my problem with my chest until, at the age of thirteen, I approached her and asked her if I could have a mastectomy. She thought I was joking, but soon realised I was serious. But she said no, so I was stuck with them.

More recently, I asked my mum if I could buy a chest binder. I tried to explain that it would make me less anxious (and I wouldn’t mind the pressure, as pressure is one of my favourite ways to stim), but she didn’t see the point. She said I could have a breast reduction when I get my inheritance when I’m 21, but this didn’t reassure me for two reasons:

  1. My twenty first birthday was, at that point, three and a half years away.
  2. I don’t want smaller breasts – I want to have no breasts at all.

I knew she understood my issues, but her ‘solutions’ were no help, so I have stopped talking to her about it.

In my latest appointment with my psychiatrist, I mentioned by issues with gender. Her suggestion was that I go to therapy, so I know I won’t be bringing that up with her again.

A couple of months ago, I discovered the gender identity of being a demigirl. It was amazing to find this, as it fit me perfectly, and I knew that not only was there a name for my identity, but loads of other people have the same identity too. Much like with my sexuality (discussed below), I was overwhelmed with relief, and began to feel a lot better with myself.

 

Sexuality

Likewise, I never understood the idea of having a sexual orientation. When my friends and acquaintances began to fancy people and go on dates, I was left wondering why I wasn’t having the same experience. I was so confused that I began to research how attraction is meant to make you feel, and knew I had never been in love with anyone. What I thought were crushes on celebrities and fictional characters was actually just me being obsessed with then as a result of special interests, as I learned fancying someone is more about finding them attractive and wanting to kiss them, and less about being completely obsessed with them and knowing every little thing about them.

This was around the time when I realised that I’m not heterosexual. Yet I also knew I wasn’t gay, as I had no more interest in girls than I did in boys. At this stage, I was only aware of three sexual orientations, so that led me to identifying with the third one: bisexuality. So I called myself bi and ‘came out’ as bi to my friends, but at the same time… it didn’t feel right.

Eventually, through extensive Googling, I came across something which seemed to make perfect sense: asexuality. The emotional response I experienced was similar to my later discovery of OCD: I was overwhelmed with relief as I read through the information, and almost cried when I realised that there was a name for what I was experiencing and that I wasn’t broken.

So, with that, I was Officially Asexual. My mum was fine when I came out to her; I think she was just relieved that I had finally stopped worrying about my sexuality. I still haven’t told my dad, because I know he won’t understand. Coming out to my friends was a strange experience, and totally different to my experience of coming out as bi to them two years earlier. They were a very diverse bunch (I think only two of them were actually straight), and had barely reacted when I told them about being bi, but their reactions were entirely different when I came out as ace.

I told them as we were sitting in the canteen in year 11. None of them knew what asexual meant, so I gave them a brief explanation. Once I had finished, these were the comments I received:

  • “But doesn’t everyone fancy someone?”
  • “Is that really a thing?”
  • “So you don’t want to get married?”
  • “Do you need to go to the doctors?”

The last comment was the worst. That was what one of my best friends, whom I supported when she came out as bi and was the first person I told when I came out as bi, seriously said to me when I told her about asexuality. She couldn’t understand someone not feeling attraction, so her first thought was to assume there was something wrong with me that could, and should, be fixed. I didn’t say anything at the time, but her words really hurt me. I never mentioned being ace in front of her again.

It took me about another year to work out that I’m also aromantic. I realised that I’m aro when it occurred to me that I have no more interest in dating, kissing and cuddling than sexual relationships. And I’ve never been romantically attracted to someone either. And that means I am aromantic asexual, otherwise known as aroace.

My teens have been a difficult time in terms of my identities, but now, almost at the age of eighteen, I think I am finally comfortable with my identities. I have been through puberty and am out the other side, which helps, because my hormones are more stable and I don’t have to deal with the bullying and peer pressure of school any more. I still want to have chest surgery, but I am a lot more comfortable with my body now I understand my identity, and I am fully happy with my asexuality. I know I will never love myself (three years of bullying shattered my self esteem), but I think I have finally reached the stage where I accept myself for who I am.