Stigma and Prejudice

My mother is a rare case. She just told me, as I was reading about murder-suicides involving children with autism, “I did what I did, and if they didn’t like it, oh well.” I thought we were in a tolerant society. She said, “Not really.” I then remembered how the teachers at my middle school told her not to talk about her with “that label,” as if she really only saw “that label.” Of course, what they did not understand, is that my mother only saw autism as a part of me, not the whole me. I have high functioning gifted Autism. It is not shameful, or really something to fear. Honestly, I try to conform to this world where most kids seem to learn communication and social skills by osmosis. But I still fail. My true self, the self I try to keep hidden, still comes out. I keep myself hidden because there is this stigma that tells me there is something very wrong with my existence. I start to feel like the mutants in X-Men. The mutants ask, “What did we do to deserve this?” The answer? “You were born.” What gives? I may have an answer. It’s not a complete answer, though.

For centuries, illness was treated as a punishment for sin, or a moral defect. The ill, especially the mentally ill or learning disabled, were hidden in the closet, so to speak. People still keep saying, “Don’t use the ‘A’ word,” of “We don’t talk about it.” On the internet, racism is prevalent, and people like me have been recommended to be ostracized for being “genetically deficient,” or even euthanized-murdered. Did terrorism go away by being ignored? Of course, the discourse about terrorism did not enter the American Psyche until September 11, 2001. At least, not truly publicly. I mean, sure, terrorism was there, and it would not hurt us, but if we ignore it, it will go away eventually. On September 11, 2001, two planes collided into the World Trade Center, another one into the Pentagon, and one was taken down by its passengers outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. That flight was believed to be headed for a crash into the Capitol. Did terrorism go away? No. It hit America. Terrorism hit America HARD. Autism, likewise, will not go away by being ignored.

Why? Why am I such a threat to society? Autism is not contagious. Autism is not a cold. Is it the meltdown? The meltdown is a reaction. A reaction overemphasized by a sensory overload. Why fear the different person? When did humanity become such cowards? Okay, maybe I am overreacting, but when there is a letter from a neighbor asking that a child be euthanized in 2013, is it that much of an overreaction? Come on, people. Throw off those outdated attitudes. Have some compassion for those going through it. We are suffering as much as those who care for us are.

My mother says she is proud of the way I turned out. I am verbal, and can look you in the eye. Most people don’t even “know” I have autism until I tell you. Of course, I had proper training in social graces, off and on, and it took. I still search for the right word, but I can probably tell you a lot on certain subjects. You never know what a person’s potential is, nor do you know how different or the same we really are.

Facebook and the Mellaril Nightmare

I was recently reminded of a time when I was bullied mercilessly, so I decided to bring an archive up about that, and some backstory:

I got in touch with my old theater group recently, and it is mostly fun. There were people who really liked me and literally made friends with me right away. Considering that I was bullied throughout school, it still puzzles me that people would befriend me at all, even on Facebook. I am trying not to react to Facebook emotionally. After all, I now live in Kentucky, two thousand miles away from people I knew. It’s hard for me to make friends, and I am still struggling here. Perhaps it matters to me because of how much I miss them. Again, why am I missing them so much? I should be making new friends here, but it’s hard. I miss the old ones terribly. Then again, there is a lot I should be wary of. I remember being told that people made fun of me behind my back about the way I talked to myself-vividly. When I was told, I almost gave up theater and friendship right on the spot. I swore I would never contact those people again-they hurt me, they made fun of me. After all, don’t you make fun of people you hate? But somehow I recovered-maybe. Here is a little backstory on why I talk to myself: It’s what is supposed to be my “inner monologue.” Somehow I lost that when I got sent to UCLA’s neuropsychiatric unit as a child. I heard songs stuck in my head. I had a more severe autism at the time, so I could not properly tell them that I heard songs in my head. I guess I told them it was “voices,” because the next thing I get is stuck with some pill called Mellaril – and acting like a zombie around the unit. I barely remember how or why I convinced them to take me off, but apparently that is how I learned to make an outer monologue. I learned talking to myself was apparently less crazy. Of course, I remember very little of the time I was in the UCLA neuropsychiatric unit. I barely remember the feeling I got with Mellaril. Being an eleven-year-old kid stuck in a psychiatric unit is not fun for anyone, and certainly not fun for someone with Autism, separated away from her family. So that’s it. That is the reason I talked to myself. This is what I am working on now – making my inner monologue an inner monologue. I still get wary of people who have teased me and made fun of me. Sometimes I think of taking them off my Facebook Friends list. Usually I don’t, just to see if they have changed any. I don’t know about you, but I have always wondered about people.

Moving Day – My Xanga Archive

Well, Xanga decided to go to a feed service, and I have twenty bucks to my name. How does that help? It doesn’t. I decided to bring my Xanga archive to you.

Entry 1:

THE FIRST OFFICIAL QUESTION:  What are the Effects of Autism and how does it Affect People? -A. Venetianer

Autism affects your senses, affects your social life, and affects your ability to communicate what you need.<br /> The senses are affected simply in this sense: you cannot block them out. They come on strong to you at the same time. Most people can block out background senses, but I myself cannot. I am like a recorder outside or in a crowded room. Everything is coming toward me so hard and fast that I can barely assess it. I am luckier than most in this, though, because many of us with Autism can&rsquo;t; this is what usually leads to those infamous meltdowns we have.  Now, we come to the social life. Often, the question is, “What social life?” because our various quirks and meltdowns often lead to a complete lack of social life. We have to be taught various social graces and body language like most people have to be taught math – hard and continually throughout our lives. We don’t get facial expressions, idioms, cliche’s, body language, or even knowing when someone is lying to us unless we are taught. We find it hard to make and keep friends. We are also bullied mercilessly because of our quirks. Because of this bullying, I am still shocked that people from my high school even want to be my Facebook friend. In that vein, I can now turn to communication. Communication is difficult at best. Start with the need to be taught how to socialize, add our quirks, bring the sensory overload, and add a dash of need to be taught to use our words &ndash; you have a recipe for disaster. That is why we scream when things are quiet. We are trying to tell you what we need, but we can. Sometimes, we win. Sometimes we lose. Most of the time, we get frustrated and quit. This is now Autism affects us.