Why I Can’t Be a Shiny Aspie

TRIGGER/CONTENT WARNING: Discussion/Use of functioning labels,  

 Well, if it isn’t another method of discrimination I’ve just learned about. The Shiny Aspie has come to minimize the perception of autistic suffering.  

Well, let’s see…what is a “Shiny Aspie” in the first place? Well, the Shiny Aspie is a supposedly high-functioning autistic person who throws shade at a person who strives to pass for neurotypical as much as possible, while passing judgement on “lower-functioning” autistic people. Basically, a Shiny Aspie feels they are fine, while wanting a cure for “lower-functioning” autistic people. A Shiny Aspie tries to separate themselves from their tribe to be better than their tribe.  

I used to be a Shiny Aspie, mostly because I was encouraged to appear neurotypical by every society I was ever in. Family, school, church youth group, theatre students…all either tried to Make Cambria Neurotypical Again, or ostracized and made fun of me for being different. The message was clear: “Be neurotypical or be kicked out!” “Be neurotypical or be mocked!” “Be neurotypical or die!” (Hey, the last one was the title of a previous post!) I had to, for survival, become a version of a Shiny Aspie, to strive for neurotypicality, and put down others like me. In other words, for lack of a better scenario, I was like a Jew being a Nazi, or a person of color in a Ku Klux Klan hood – a hypocrite.  

But here’s the problem – I was once a “lower-functioning” autistic person. The doctor told my mother to prepare for me to never get any “better” than I was at age three. I was obviously behind other kids at that point. (Tells you how much doctors know about bringing the hope!) I had to change one stim for another at several points in my life. I spoke stiffly until my thirties. The persecution I suffered throughout my school years was nearly nonstop. I only felt that I fit in during Grad Night, the last night I would ever see any of these people. I still don’t know why most of them are my Facebook friends. I’m still shocked they contacted me.  

Anyway, to think that I am “better” than any other autistic bothers me. We are being segmented and pitted against each other in petty squabbles in order to keep us down and out. The Shiny Aspie has drunk the poisonous Kool-Aid, not knowing they are being plotted against as well. I hope they wake up from their sleep soon.  

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Opioid Crisis

Good day, readers. I am back from writer’s block. I have decided to speak about an issue that has affected my family in a big way:  

There is an urban legend which states that bars give you a free alcoholic drink if you trade in your 30-day sobriety chip. While not proven to be true, I doubt you will find a bar that will admit to this. It is a pervasive idea that moral failings are the cause of addictive behavior. While choosing to try the first time is a choice, choice diminishes in subsequent drinking. The same is true for our nation’s current opioid crisis.  

Kentucky is among states who are suing pharmaceutical companies for causing the current opioid crisis. What is the opioid crisis, you ask? Simple. Millions of people are overdosing on opioids. They are addicted. They are overtaxing the criminal justice system. They are overtaxing medical hospitals. And they are overtaxing families, including mine.                                         

The opioid epidemic is not just some abstract out there for me. I have at least three known relatives addicted to the stuff. I’m not going to name them, because that is not the point. The point is, I know personally what an addiction is. It is wrong to say that addictions are rational. It is wrong to say addictions are reasonable. Addictions break all rules and regulations for that one thing which produces the high. As many of you know, and the medical community can attest, pregnancy’s fact that a child might be born in pain does not stop the mother. Many children are now born addicted to opioids and other drugs. They go through withdrawal as newborns, including the pain. I don’t personally know a person who this has happened to, but I know many out there do.  

There is a reason the urban legend of the bar that offers a free drink for a 30-day sobriety chip persists. Many people believe businesses which give rise to addictions are perceived to be unscrupulous, including drug companies. There is a conspiracy theory out there that states drug companies keep people addicted to opioids to turn them into addicts, aka “good customers.” As a matter of fact, there are states banking on this new “sobriety chip drink.” Did the pharmaceutical companies leave addiction warnings off the table, as it once did for heroin? (Heroin was once an ingredient for medicines in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.)  

For now, it is up to ourselves to watch our own bodies and addictions. For instance, my mother avoids using opioids when she is in too much pain. She has chronic pain, but prefers things that are not opioid forms of treatment. She is also not blind to the horrors of addiction and what it has caused our family.  

I’m not lecturing to feel smug in the least, because I know it could happen to me, too. I am speaking in hopes of preventing another soul from becoming addicted to opioids, and possibly other drugs, too. (That has also happened in my family.) I am speaking in hopes of preventing another newborn baby from going through painful, uncomfortable withdrawal. I am speaking in hopes of keeping another family intact. I am speaking in hopes of saving lives. For when you become addicted, you lost your ability to just say no.