I have a problem. There is a dearth of people with autism who like to wear makeup. Sure, some of us autistic people may dislike the look and feel of makeup on their faces, but not me. I love the way my makeup makes me look and feel. Also, once fashion, or more appropriately, style, was demystified for me, I figured out how to use it, too. I like makeup, I like fashion, and I have autism. So why am I nonexistent in the media?
I have a feeling that I am not supposed to be womanly and autistic at the same time. I feel like I am wrong and rebellious when I am in makeup and stylish clothes. That to be autistic, I have to abandon my genuine likes and my being myself in order for people to believe me. I feel weird and like an outsider for being both autistic and girly, or womanly. I also feel this is wrong. So, tell me, media, where are the girly autistics?
There is a disconnect between what most people think Autism Acceptance is and what it really is. Most people think Autism Acceptance is letting the person flounder around aimlessly in life and let them waste their time on earth. That is simply not true. You work around autism, not destroy it, not let it rule you. If you could imagine, for a moment, a person that lacks the ability to walk. Do you let them drag themselves around on the street? No! You get them a wheelchair or other walking aid. Accepting autistic people as they are does not mean leaving them to flounder in their pain. It means you teach them how to function in the world obviously not made for them.
I’m not entirely against training the autistic child on how to function in this world. What I am against is the lack of explanation that this is how to function in the world. Explaining that this is how to function kind of sounds like this:
“Cami, this is how most people function in the world. By talking and using words.”
“Cami, I need you to use your words.”
“Cami, that is inappropriate. Please talk about something else.”
(*Cami was my childhood nick name. I might as well put my name in.)
The point is, if the child does not know what you are doing, how are they going to get on board?
I’m also not entirely against the concept of accommodations and adjustments for the autistic, either. Another fallacy in the way society treats the autistic is that they treat it the way they treat mental illness, or any other invisible illness. Would you tell a person with a broken arm or leg that they need to “do better,” or “get out of your funk”? Would you tell someone with the flu they need to try harder to get well? Of course not. Just because a stim makes you uncomfortable does not mean it needs to stop. Does the autistic yell at you to stop talking, for example? No. They know it comforts you to hear your own voice. Why not give that same compassion to them?
Has anyone noticed that the “regular” size of women in Hollywood is double zero? Not even zero anymore. Even a size 2 is now fat in Hollywood. Unless, of course, you’re one of the very few women in the media who’s actually obese. I could call out most of these women by name and count them on one finger. Kathy Kinney, Chrissy Metz, and Melissa McCarthy are the only ones I know of. But I’m not here to judge them, or the super-small waifs who usually grace the screen that there’s almost nothing left of.
It’s mostly the directors’ fault. Twiggy would look fat next to these women, and Twiggy is an admitted anorexic. I mean, what do they use to judge women’s bodies – a broomstick?
Of course, maybe it’s the sexist environment that contributed the #MeToo movement that cause the love of women with eating disorders. Maybe they want the women to be abuseable. And a woman who is obsessed with how she looks to men is definitely abuseable.
What can I say about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.? How he championed nonviolence? How his struggles for the black people and others spurs my own civil rights struggle? (Yes, as an autistic, and a woman, I struggle for love, acceptance and civil rights.) Yes, I can say a lot about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And his legacy, but I feel that others can do it much better than I can. So I will let them.
As I see it, the State of the Autistic is, well, poor. We have a long way to go. Let’s start with the obvious:
- The average life expectancy of the autistic person is 54 years old, even though autism should not affect life expectancy directly. (By contrast, neurotypical lifespan are roughly 80 years in the USA.)
- With other diagnoses, such as epilepsy, life expectancy lowers to 39, even though autism should not directly affect life expectancy. (Again, life expectancy is roughly 80 years for most neurotypical people.)
- Many of these people are murdered and raped by their caregiving families.
- Autistic voices are routinely ignored, just as much, if not more, than female voices.
- Almost every autistic woman I know has been raped, molested and/or abused, myself included.
- Almost everyone I know with autism has either no job or a low-paying job.
- I myself am on disability payments to live and take care of my mother with.
This is a bleak picture which I do not see changing, because nobody will listen to autistic adults. Autistic adults are often treated like they do not exist, even by parents of autistic children. If they can, they are expected to be neurotypical. If not, they are locked away in institutions. How is this fair to autistic people?
It’s almost 2018. While people are looking back, I’m looking forward.I’d rather look forward. It’s a shame that I have very little good to look back on. Congress and the President care little about non-millionaire people. There’s crippling debt. There’s crippling racism. My family will not get back together in the near future. And Judith Newman and Donald Trump put their fingers in their ears and scream “LA LA LA LA LA….” when hearing autistic people, because they do not agree with them.
My main question is: When did willful ignorance become a virtue?
After a day of rest, I have enough energy to talk about how I dealt with Christmas.
I don’t really have any more tips, other than know your autistic relative.
Christmas Eve was basically spending an evening at my cousin’s place for food, family and fun. The funny thing is, it was almost entirely about vegetable casseroles, almost all of which I like very much. Off topic, it’s funny how I have come to like vegetables as an adult, even after thinking I would never like them as a child. Somehow, trying new things and culinary adventure came to include veggies in adulthood. Sometimes, one just needs to bite the bullet and try it. There’s no shortcuts to that one. We also got games, good family talking and even some quiet times, too. It was great. I was disappointed in one factor, though; I wanted to talk to the parents of an autistic relative of mine. He’s a young boy, but I would like to have a talk with his parents, you know, to provide some perspective. But they were not there. I was not exactly going to grill them or provide lectures, but it helps when you’re not alone in a family, as I have so often felt.
Christmas Day was a little different. We invited a couple who had just gotten together, but the man in the two was a friend, so it was alright. Much of the food was on my shoulders, but it was very easy. We had Prime Rib, steamed vegetables, rice pilaf, rolls and a salad, plus cheesecake for dessert. It’s not easy to screw up Prime Rib. Twenty minutes at a high temperature and then 25 minutes per pound. It was done within three hours, resting included. That was the hardest part of the meal. I mean, rice pilaf is very easy from the boxes, and I’ve done rolls many times for Thanksgiving. So, easy meal, good food, good friends, and an overall nice time. It started to get very cold when the day was done, so we had to get them home early. We had a nice time, with blocks of quiet book ending the day. Could not have asked for more.