I Am Them 

“We are a society that treats people with disabilities with condescension and pity, not dignity and respect.”

-Stella Young-
Sure, my mother tells me I am very high functioning. Trouble is, such a statement used to make me wonder if what the neurotypical call high functioning was a part of why my mother loved me, that I had to be high functioning to be loved. It turns out, this is not true. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case for many autistic people, particularly those who are called low-functioning. True, I cannot speak for the low-functioning autistic, the one who cannot pass for neurotypical. However, it does not mean they are less in need of or deserving of love. That would mean I am less deserving of love than a neurotypical person.

Why do I stick up for the ones designated low functioning? Under the umbrella term Autism Spectrum Disorder, I am technically a sister to them, in a way. Plus, I have been taught the ropes in functioning by my mother and others. I never felt like I really fit in with the neurotypical crowd. I have always known I was different, and that those differences were feared and hated. I mean, most people use the word weird as a kind of slur. People have always been afraid of the “other,” of the outsider. I guess it has its purpose. But it is like a shoe that has holes in it, or pebbles: they have served their purpose, or are now harming you.

Remember, you are one medical diagnosis, one accident, one lost paycheck from becoming the people you condescend and pity. I am there.

Why We Diagnosed Some Fictional Characters as Autistic

To the person(s) currently playing Sherlock Holmes, or any other character unofficially diagnosed as autistic: If we autistic people diagnose your character as such, please do not take it as an insult. We do not. We only use autistic as a descriptor, like blue-eyed, or dark-skinned, or long-haired. We prefer our own role models, because the autistic characters general people base their opinions on absolutely suck. We are portrayed as useless morons who are better off dead. The TV movie about Temple Grandin as a capable woman is, woefully, an exception, not the rule. Plus, most of us know we are not all like any fictional person diagnosed autistic, officially or unofficially. For example: since I am using Sherlock Holmes as an example, he is currently being perceived in one case as somewhat asexual (expressing disinterest or lack of interest in sexual attraction and activity). While many autistics are asexual, I for one can certainly tell you I am not. This is just one example. I can sight a lot of examples of this. Truth is, so many of us are struggling to come to terms with the autistic characters given us…we are to only show our exploitable side, then to just go away. Unfortunately, we will not just go away. We’re here, we’re autistic, get used to it.

Okay, that is not the main problem. The main problem is that our autistic characters shown to us by mainstream media suck. When trying to find the right role model, we are not given a lot of options. As I have said before, we’re portrayed as incapable morons on a certain level, except when someone actually autistic (like Temple Grandin) is involved. To site the most extreme example, Kim Peek, the person Raymond “Rain Man” Babbit was based on, was not even autistic! He had FG Syndrome, a genetic disorder which manifests itself in him with similar behaviors (or not, I’m sure) to autism. Also, we are usually portrayed as white, cisgendered, male and awkward. Don’t get me started on the similarities to Sherlock Holmes and Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory,” another character slapped with the autism diagnosis unofficially! Of course, on the gender gap between male and female autistics, a lot of girls and women are denied their proper autism diagnosis simply because they’re girls! Many doctors, unless specializing in autism, do not believe a girl can be autistic, simply because of their gender. “You can’t be autistic; you’re a girl/woman!” That’s what they say. (I suggest a self-diagnosed woman who wants a paper diagnosis do her best to get herself to University of California, Los Angeles, where they are serious about autism study. That is where I got my paper diagnosis in the 1980s.)

But what bothers me most about people who fight the characters’ unofficial diagnosis of autism, know this: it means we actually like your character and find ourselves in him. Would it not be better to stand up and fight the stigma that the autism label or any other disability label gives? Would it not be better to accept that autistic people have a voice, and that we want to use it? Why do you want us to go away?

Trapped in an Alien World, and Hated for It 

AutismHester

Okay, maybe I am being a little dramatic. Sadly, I have to be. There are times I feel like Hester Prynne, scorned and hated for being different than most people. When you are in a world not made for you, it is difficult. You don’t have to make it more difficult by singling out and ridiculing them, especially if you are getting the experience of their predicament wrong.

As you read This “Locked In for Autism” Event article, consider this: It is simply a metaphor for the autistic being “locked in their own world.” That, my friends, could not be more wrong. If you were in your own world, would you not be comfortable, as in your home? Yet, the autistic person is not comfortable. They are not in their home; they are not in their own world. The world they experience is vastly different from the non-autistic world. We might see things more brightly or dimly. We might hear things more loudly or softly. We might smell things more clearly or less so. We might taste things differently. We might even touch things differently. Do you understand yet?

If not, let me reiterate for you in another sense. Remember when we were told there were “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Iraq? That was the information most of us were supporting the war in Iraq of the 2000s. We found no “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” by the way. The truth was actually said right before the war. In a sense, we were lied to. That’s what a autistic person’s senses do. Their senses lie to them. So, they are not “in their own world,” as the Locked In metaphor believes. They are in an alien world. They are defending themselves from this alien world, which is why they seem to be locked in.

So how do I know this information? I am autistic. I am speaking from the inside. I am knowledgeable of insider information that the so-called Experts refuse to learn. It is a constant struggle to which I must struggle under a scarlet letter of sorts, and fight discrimination for experiencing the world differently. Will you listen and consider the viewpoints of actual insiders? Or will you form myths that lead to laughable metaphors that actually have nothing to do with the experience of an autistic person? The choice is yours.

About that “High-Functioning” Thing…. 

TW: Use of “functioning” labels as assigned by NT parents

Stop. Don’t leave yet. I’m not going to throw a bunch of junk at you on how I’m supposedly better than those who are lower functioning or whatever. So, I can pass for neurotypical in some circles. I guess that’s an asset for someone like me. But is that supposed to make me “better” than anyone? I must confess: I have recently struggled with this question: If I was lower functioning, would I still be loved?

It haunts the mind of the autistic, no matter where they are on the “functioning” scale. Many people dubbed “lower-functioning” are often thrown into group homes where they are not treated with basic medical care, let alone human decency. Often, love for the autistic, no matter how they fit on this “functioning” scale, is denied.

My mother just said to me, “I love you for who you are. I will always love you for who you are.” That is very comforting to me, because I have struggled with my worth as of late. I don’t know why I do, except maybe I do know why I do. I am told that the autistic is unfit for society in many ways – even more so since I am a woman, and can pass for neurotypical.

So what? I do not think I am better than the “lower-functioning” autistics. Far from it. Perhaps they are much smarter in this autism thing than me, perhaps not. I do not say I speak for them, either.

Autism’s “functioning level” does not conclude a person’s worth.

Why you should refuse to #DiagnoseTrump and interrogate mainstream bigotry instead.

An online petition created by Democratic congresswoman, Karen Bass is calling for a mental health evaluation of Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump. It has over 12,000 signatures as of th…

Source: Why you should refuse to #DiagnoseTrump and interrogate mainstream bigotry instead.