Questions for Benedict Cumberbatch

Due to some comments made by Benedict Cumberbatch about people with autism, I must speak personally. It is telling that I am a fan of his, yet these statements he made are harmful to autistic people, such as me.

I have a few questions to ask him:

1) When you say your characters are not on the autism spectrum, and it is lazy to think such a thing, are you deeply insulted that somebody would even infer autism? If so, I feel insulted that you would think that-as if autism is something so horrible that it diminishes the affected ones’ humanity. Does it diminish my humanity that I am autistic? If so, you have deeply devastated me.

2) What exactly is so extraordinary and upsetting about autism? And again, does it make one less of a human being? I worry that I am less human in your mind.

3) What about the while high-functioning/low-functioning notions you speak of? Try and get that out of your head. Many of us have certain skills and passions that we excel at, such as spelling for myself, and possibly passing for neurotypical. Hopefully, the ability to pass as neurotypical (what most people consider high-functioning) does not elevate me in your mind. I would rather stay down with my fellow autistics to advocate for them-or should I say, advocate for us.

4) Another point of contention is the concept of arrested development and mental age. I do not believe autism is a mental disorder or intellectual disability, but more of a sensory or communicative one. I did not stop developing at any point in my life because of autism. I may have taken a longer journey than my neurotypical peers, but my development was never arrested.

5) I wish that I would not be viewed as an innocent, or a child. That would be fine for a child, but not for somebody who is just a year younger than yourself. Other than communicatively and socially, I developed normally in most ways. Would it shock you to know that I have had five boyfriends in my life? It would be tragic to not think I have capabilities or the potential, even, to become a self-sufficient adult.

Just so you know, yes, I am still a fan. I like to call myself a Cumbercookie. I think I will always be a Cumbercookie. But if you wish to improve your knowledge of autism, I would be happy to help. I think there is more you need to learn.

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Dying on the Vine

Here I am in Nicholasville, Kentucky, getting cabin fever in my snowed-in ground floor apartment. I am getting antsy, wanting to go out. People tend to think this is nuts, since they have to work. But for me, being shut up inside my house is an every day thing. I have an embarrassment of homebody time, and I would like to work, to help people, to contribute to the world.

It’s not like I can’t work or won’t work, for starters. I’m certified to be a Peer Specialist. I mean, I can relate to those of us with autism, depression and PTSD in ways that nobody outside this spectrum of interests can. There is so much I can give to the world. I came into this line of certification so I could get a job-and it’s frustrating to me that I am still on Disability due to my lack of certain skills, or the fact that I can’t drive. If I were in California, I bet I could get around just fine on the buses and rails. This is my trouble-I can’t drive, so I can’t work. Can you say frustration? I bet I would appreciate home and days off more, if I had work to balance all these days off to appreciate. There is only so much I can do in my skill set, but nobody wants to use them. Why do the people in the psychological professions not want to count my experiences? Don’t we, as the people who are actually experiencing these continued illnesses, have something to contribute?

There is so much I try to put in my viewpoint, but it keeps being ignored. My blog keeps growing and growing, but I am throwing my words out into a void which does not answer back. Have I chased all of my readers away due to my preferences? Do I have to be “16 and Pregnant” to get a readership? I give up. This blog seems more like a personal diary to me that secrets go into. But if you do not want to be read, why are you posting online? That’s the thing. I want to be read. I want somebody to acknowledge my existence, because it seems futile at times, like I am not contributing to anything. I certainly won’t kill myself for being ignored, but I will not be ignored any longer. I wish I had more value in this world.

Single and Happy on Valentine’s Day

I have heard the news. Benedict Cumberbatch gained a Mrs. today. And I’m not broken up about it. Honestly, I hope they become the new Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Many happy blessings to them!

That aside, I am single and happy on Valentine’s Day. My mother was not in the mood for a steak dinner, so we had Chinese. I had shrimp with broccoli (I always have seafood when I can), and my mother had Kung Pao Chicken. What we had was not that important, anyway. We had already gone out to get some brunch, where I had a spicy potato casserole and my mom, eggs benedict (and now I’m giggling). So I wonder if I could get my mom to watch something with Ben in it? We’re currently watching “Julie & Julia.” It’s a good movie. I like it. Anyway, I have already seen “The Imitation Game” and was hugely impressed by it. To play a socially inept genius seems to be my favorite actor’s current forte, though I would like to see him in something radically different, like a post-apocalyptic mage or something. Anyway, I digress. I have a Pampering Party planned for later tonight. My mother and I are going to do our feet and hands…and I will paint my nails. Exactly what color, I don’t know, but I’m painting my nails.

Getting back to what I had been talking about before, I decided a long time ago that whoever is ruling this Universe may or may not want to give me a husband, but he certainly will not want to give me somebody else’s husband. I am perfectly happy being alone.

I have more things to do tonight; excuse me while I start the Pampering Party I have planned.

Special Interests: Unusual for Me to Like Fashion, huh?

Let me start by defying convention as noted by Girls With Autism and say that at one time, fashion was a special interest. Trouble is, as I was growing up, fashion was seen as a luxury only given to the skinny and rich. (It says my fashion interest is unusual right on the front page!) I would know designers and looks, even though I could barely afford them, but dressing myself up with style was a special interest. I mean, I would play with Barbie dolls just to dress them up. But weight gain and puberty put the kibosh on it…and only recently, with the help of Stacy London (on TV only, guys; I wish I could meet her in real life and thank her), could I see differently.

As I got older, men took over as a special interest. Whenever I get a crush on a celebrity, I go what I call full tilt. It’s all or nothing with me. It was that way with Jordan Knight, Luke Perry, The Rated R Superstar Edge, and now with Benedict Cumberbatch. For example, just last night I changed my phone home screen to BC’s face…and I change it for nothing.

Also, I love the color purple. I have loved it ever since I was a child. I have it in my living room as a painting, chairs and accessories, in my bedroom as my bedding, my casual dishes, my Christmas…any place I could get it. I have to restrain myself from going full tilt on it, too.

I also love Severus Snape from the Harry Potter books. I think this ties in with my men interest.

I’m also into blogging and social media, but the vitriol of keyboard bullies makes them total shitheads. Sorry, I have no kinder words for keyboard bullies.

I love looking at art.

I love light, bright spaces. I grew up in a church where there were huge windows all the way to the ceilings. It disturbs me that the only window in my living room is a small one.

I love animals, too. Bear, my Pomeranian, is my baby.

I’ll fire off more interests as I think of them.

On Posthumous and Fictional Diagnoses

I just saw “The Imitation Game” and was quite impressed by it. My mother took me just to see Benedict Cumberbatch. Now now, I know what some of you are thinking: why like a mostly ableist actor? Because, he is simply misinformed. If BC were to open his mind to some of our blogs, he would have a completely different view of autism. I really believe it. We noticed his portrayal of Alan Turing was socially inept (I could relate); however, I am not quick to slap a diagnosis of autism on Alan Turing simply because I cannot properly diagnose the guy. I am actually not a fan of posthumous and fictional diagnoses of autism on people. How can you possibly be sure without some sort of living evidence? What if there were some other explanation that nobody actually considered? Of course Alan Turing was not “normal;” but who is normal these days? (My personal conclusion: nobody.) Don’t get me wrong: an autism diagnosis and its accompanying traits are actually better than people give them credit for. I am for a diagnosis, as long as it is a correct one. If we were to talk about Daryl Hannah being on the spectrum, that’s great.

Also, it is wise to consider that most autistic people are not like the Alan Turings and Temple Grandins of the world.  If Turing really were autistic, he would be as unique as each person with autism is from every other. Each person with autism, because autism has been so recently discovered, is being pushed into the semi-solitary position of autistic pioneer. My own specialty is spelling and punctuation. I cringe and laugh every single day when I go online. That is how often I see a misspelled word. However, a self-diagnosed friend of mine cannot spell that well. This is just an example of all these specific (and not too often encountered, remember that) specialties people think are so common. I do not really think autism is a mental handicap, because I rarely encounter a mentally challenged autistic, unless they have another mental challenge. This includes so-called low functioning autistics. (Fellow blogger Carly Fleischmann can attest to this.) We autistics have a saying: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”

Truth I, I am not going to give autism to a person unless it can be actually proven. I think it’s better that way.

Like The Running of the Bulls

Have you ever watched the Running of the Bulls? It is a part of Spain San Fermin festival, to observe how the patron saint died (trampled by bulls, obviously). People put themselves in harm’s way to observe this, to prove their virility, whatever. But I have noticed this is like talking to an autistic who can finally communicate-you can get run over by their anger.

There is an observation I have made when people like me finally find their voice: there is a lot of anger in it. Anger at what people think of them, anger at the way their voices were discarded all this time, and anger at the world in general. They have been mistreated simply because their forms of communication are not traditional, as in speaking. There is a lot of anxiety and frustration involved in the life of an autistic; I should know. But somehow, you have to get beyond your anger in order to survive it.

Don’t get me wrong; I felt and showed a lot of anger in my voice and choices when I was in my 20s. My voice had been discounted by everybody-except my mother, who had insight into my communication methods-in my life. I was made fun of throughout my school years, to my face and behind my back. I was exploited and abused by my sisters, who took my social security and forced me to work 40 hours a week, taking all of my money for their use. My father and his side of the family rejected the notion that autism even existed, because I was so smart, or they had some sort of baggage for this, maybe? It does not matter now. I am autistic, and I love me. I have also gotten beyond my anger at people who do not know, or think they know, but do not (Yes, I am talking to you, Benedict Cumberbatch). I had quite a journey that was, I admit, helped along to the beat of “the hots,” but it was a journey nonetheless.

To hear the man say autism was a thing of arrested development, it was horrifying, to say the least. I had been dancing around the idea of liking him for years. What if he came up to me and thought I was infantile in my thinking, if he knew I was autistic? Would he pose for a selfie then? Maybe not, so I would have to hide it. But then I thought, what if he had not been given the right information, that the knowing viewpoint inside autism had not been properly introduced to him? Statements and actions given about gays and Julian Assange would mean he might be open-minded enough to listen to me. That opened a whole new window of hope, in that he could be reached. So there was only one thing left to do: I forgave him for speaking out about something he barely knew about. So, I am no longer mad at him. There is a freedom in forgiveness that wipes the slate of your mind clean, that the power of a statement or action is no longer being played over and over again. It’s like a de-scented skunk: still alive, but powerless. Forgiveness is funny like that. I am no longer like the running of the bulls; you will not find anger in me unless it is new.