An autistic person of color recently brought up a really valid point: many times, when persons of color bring up racism in the world, and even in autistic circles, many white people come up with “But you can’t condemn us! We’re LESS RACIST than neurotypicals!” or some other self-gratifying comparison. Here’s the problem with comparisons: they expose that you’re still affected by the same thing as the person you’re distancing yourself from! If you’re “less racist,” you’re still racist. If you’re “more open-minded,” that doesn’t mean your mind is completely open. You can’t excuse yourself from improvement. Just because you’re ahead of somebody in the race, it does not mean you are at the finish line. Self-improvement and tolerance are marathons, not the long jump. There is still work that needs to be done. Hitler was and is not the only Nazi, David Duke is not the only member of the Ku Klux Klan.
My stimming story is a little different from other people’s stimming stories. My initial stim was a monotone hum. Unfortunately, that was an unacceptable one. My mother asked what it was for. I said it was to get rid of excess energy. Eventually, my mother would tell me to go run up and down the hall. (We had a long hallway in our house.) I found better ways to stim as a person throughout my life, even when I was not allowed to stim by my sisters. (I was also not allowed to enjoy my own money or mental safety.) Of course, once I got away from my sisters, I was “allowed” to stim again. Strangely enough, I did not stim too much.
There are many times and ways I stim, but one thing they have in common: they are to get rid of excess emotional energy. That means, stimming can come at any time, for any reason. It’s a comfort that many neurotypicals do not understand or apparently need, so they always want us to not do it. They don’t want any indication that we are autistic. I say, screw them.
NOTE: This is in response to a recent blog post written by a parent of an autistic child.
“What will happen to my autistic kid when I’m gone?” “What will happen to my autistic kid when I die?” Well, if you hog all the autism care and concern and leave none of it for them, they will probably die alone, possibly killing themselves.
Have I got your attention now?
An isolated, dependent, and short lifespan is the current fate of most autistic people. Do you want to stop that? Don’t hog all the care and concern. Remember, the autistic person is suffering the most. NOT YOU!!!!!
Also, I have a few questions I want to ask:
Here’s my question: Can they learn to adapt and live?
Some autistic people need round-the-clock care, but I believe many do not. You must learn where on this care spectrum this person falls, and make the proper arrangements. You might be surprised where this person falls, and where he functions highly. Also, get him some autistic friends. I don’t have any close autistic friends right now, except on Facebook, and there are times I feel all alone.
Here’s my next question: Can they be autistic around you?
There is a LOT of pressure to fit in, to be acceptable, to conform. Autistic people, because they are bullied, left out and ostracized, feel this pressure more than most people. Holly Robinson-Peete’s son once declared “I don’t want autism” to his family at one time in the course of conversation. This just broke my heart. I could not put a finger on it at the time, but I realized it meant that he feels he cannot be loved and/or accepted until he can conform to neurotypicality. I could not watch another episode of their reality show.
Another question: Is there somebody they can be autistic, and therefore themselves, around?
If not you, the autistic person NEEDS to be autistic. It’s a fact of life as of May 29, 2018. If they are not themselves around you, they need to be themselves around somebody. They need somebody they can trust. Not you, them. You might be surprised who they trust, and it may not be the people you trust. Remember: many times, they have learned to not trust themselves or their instincts. I have gone through this behavior, and have re-learned to trust my instincts in my thirties. By then, it was almost too late.
I am currently forty years old. By some estimates, the average death age of an autistic person is thirty-six. (By some, it could be as late as fifty-four.) This means I may have already outlived my lifespan by four years. Not much time on this world where we face rejection, is it? Most autistic people still may be doomed to die alone, but you can help change it. There is a group of people who can help your child, because they know what your child is going through. They are going through it themselves. These are what we call autistic adults.
- The whole treatment of Meg Griffin.
- Having to borrow a title from a show that treats their teen daughter like feces.
- The fact that I have to hide the fact that my very nice upstairs neighbor is black because some very powerful white people assume she is some kind of criminal.
- The fact that I am forty and only qualified to work in a fast food joint because I only have an Associate Degree.
- People who go swimming in pubic pools when they don’t feel well. Stay home and get well!
- The fact that I have to justify my autism diagnosis because I am not Sheldon Cooper, Raymond “Rain Man” Babbitt, or some other white male whose weird is life-throttling.
- The fact that I have yet to see an autistic girl who likes assumed girly things on T.V.
- That most of the autistic people in media are white, male and otherwise of a privileged class.
- That these stereotypes throttle non-white, non-male autistic people from being believed.
- That I am even having to mention these in the 21st Century.
Hans Asperger. A supposed “hero” for the autistic white boys who lived in Nazi Germany….not so much. It has recently been revealed that he sent undesirable children to the execution programs, particularly if they were female, or of “mixed Jewish Blood,” which meant damnation in Nazi Germany. Now some people who identify with Asperger’s Syndrome are in shock and despair, wondering what to do or how to identify next?
I’ll be honest: I never really identified as “Asperger’s Syndrome,” because it did not fit the more-accurate childhood diagnosis I received, and my mother fought for endlessly. Sure, knowing you were different hurt at first, but I slowly realized that knowing your condition/impairment was a real advantage in getting along with the world. Now, back to the question at hand: what to do with Hans Asperger’s legacy? Now, this might seem radical to some, but why not avail yourself to current research and hitch your wagon to Leo Kanner’s horse? What is currently known as Asperger’s Syndrome and a form of autism are basically the same thing, are they not?
Quit trying to separate yourself or your child from the advantages given in being a member of the autistic tribe. Being autistic means that those supposedly strange requests are now reasonable accommodations. Being autistic means that you have a name, tribe and culture to identify with – that involves Ghostbusters. Being autistic means that said culture will love you endlessly and unconditionally, knowing you or your child are one of its own. Sure, your life seems harder because you have an identifiable difference, but isn’t it easier than hitching your wagon to a Nazi?
Well, Kroger has decided to get their Autism Awareness out early this year. That was a shock. I know I was expecting it, but something inside me this year has decided to raise anxiety. I mean, stuttering has come out of me this year, too. I don’t like it.
It’s not quite full-blown yet, but it’s starting up fast. Today I saw two women wearing the Kroger Autism Awareness Shirt – light blue with a “ribbon” made up of primary color puzzle pieces. They haven’t pulled out an infographic station yet, though. As I have said recently, you know how I feel about the puzzle piece. Anyway, the start has hit me hard this year.
Maybe I ought to ask how those who wear the Autism Awareness Shirt are connected to it. If it means an autistic relative, maybe I can give a few tips on how to help. Who knows?
I think I need to go self-care a bit right now.
You’ve seen the blue monuments, the store displays, the big rallies. It’s all about the suffering parents! Those poor paaaaarents, dealing with a demon autistic child! But nobody seems to see how it’s affecting the children, or worse, what happens when those children grow up as broken adults that need repair. Sure, most autism parents tend to make the autism suffering all about them. They tend not to look past the end of their noses. But let’s see how we can deal with them now.
- On Autism “Awareness” Rallies: Don’t go. There is no need to go to a rally where your fear being booed and worse.
- On Wearing Blue: I’d avoid it, at least for April 2. People might think you support the hateful actions of Autism Speaks. Most autistic people tend to go towards red, gold or taupe for Autism Acceptance. (Personally, I go red, simply because I have it.)
- On Blue-Lit Monuments: Take those as reminders that we need to fight for Autism Acceptance.
- On Store Displays: Take these with a grain of salt. Your experience is an expert one.
- On Those Poor Paaaaarents, Part 1: Ask them this question: “Are you the one who is autistic? Or is it your child?” “Do you think a child has meltdowns on purpose?” “Do you think a person suffers on purpose?”
- On Those Poor Paaaaarents, Part 2: Remember, they are made by despair-loving doctors who talk about what the child CAN’T do, as if the doctors know. If they are open to it, teach them the truth.
- On Autism Speaks Dominance: Take it as a reminder that we still need to fight. Remember, they are anti-autistic scaremongers, no matter what they say.
- On Not “Looking Autistic” or “Seeming Autistic”: Well, bring up the point that AUTISTIC ADULTS DO NOT ACT LIKE AUTISTIC CHILDREN. (Ahem, excuse my yelling.) It’s true. When you talk about delays, bring up the point that Later Does Not Mean Never.
- On the basic stereotype that “They’ll Never Amount to Anything!!!!!” – Google Famous Autistic People. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Remember, autistic people can do anything.
- On Inequality in Autism Access and Treatment: This is intersectionality in a nutshell. The theory is, suffering is compounded the more you deviate from the white male cisgender neurotypical “norm.”
This list of specific issues is by no means an exhaustive one. Please, comment on ones I need to address. I really want to help.
EDIT: Point included in comment about autistic age on 3/25/18.