Autism Acceptance, Day 3

So low on spoons that this is just screenshotted from my tumblr.

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Autism Acceptance Day 1

I’m doing the 30 Days of Autism Acceptance prompt! All of you are encouraged to engage, comment, share, and do it yourself 🙂 My post with the list of prompts is here.April 1: Introduce yourself. Talk about who you are as a person.Hi all. I’m CJ. I’m a 27 year old autie. I’m passionate about information access, having a creative outlet, and human rights. I have an orange tabby cat named Chai who is my emotional support animal. I love her more than anything. I’m gay and identify as a Demi-girl (which just means primarily female identifying but there are grey areas). I write poetry and occasional prose, and studied Creative Writing for my undergrad. I’m on a break from grad school currently, but I aspire to be a children’s librarian. Tell me about yourselves!

30 Days of Autism Acceptance

This post was made by autie-jake on tumblr.

I’ll be participating and I hope to see others sharing and participating as well, even if it’s just in a comment.

Rules: Answer the prompt of the day on your own separate post. You can answer as many or as few of these as you like. Answer with as much or as little detail as you wish. And tag your posts with the hashtag #30daysofautismacceptance. And make sure you tag it as #2019. Please help me spread this before the start of April!

April 1: Introduce yourself. Talk about who you are as a person.

April 2: Post a red instead selfie today!

April 3: Talk about what autism acceptance means to you.

April 4: What do you wish more people knew about autism?

April 5: Talk about how/when you were diagnosed. Alternatively, if you’re self-diagnosed, talk about how/when you realised you were autistic.

April 6: Talk about stimming. What does it mean to you? In what ways do you stim?

April 7: Talk about special interests. What does having special interests mean to you? Talk about your current special interests. Or talk about past special interests. What’s the most unusual special interest you’ve had?

April 8: Talk about ableism. Have you ever faced any ableism for being autistic?

April 9: Give a shoutout to your favorite autistic advocates/blogs.

April 10: Talk about your favorite autistic creators. The creator could be a youtuber, an artist, a musician, a writer, etc.

April 11: Talk about your support network. Are your family/friends supportive of you?

April 12: Discuss stereotypes. How do autism stereotypes negatively affect you? What are some stereotypes that you hate?

April 13: Discuss meltdowns/shutdowns. What are they like for you? How often do you have them? What helps you during a meltdown? What doesn’t help you?

April 14: Discuss relationships. How do you think being autistic has effected your relationships. It could be romantic relationships or platonic relationships.

April 15: Free day! Write about any topic you want!

April 16: Talk about sensory issues that you have. It could be touch, sound, etc.

April 17: Talk about your favorite canonical autistic character.

April 18: Talk about your autistic headcanons.

April 19: Discuss autism and bullying. Have you ever been bullied for your autistic traits?

April 20: Discuss identity. Do you prefer person first (person with autism) or identity first (autistic person) language? Why? Do you consider autism to be an important part of who you are?

April 21: Talk about school. How has being autistic affected your school experience (whether you’re currently in school or used to be in school)?

April 22: Discuss accommodations. Have you ever received accommodations in work or school? How have they helped you? If you haven’t, what accommodations would you like to receive?

April 23: Talk about stim toys. How many do you have? What’s your favorite stim toy? What stim toys do you wish you had?

April 24: Discuss routines. Do you generally have strict routines that you have to follow? Talk about what is part of your routine and when. What does it feel like when you can’t follow your routine?

April 25: How did you come to accept yourself as autistic? What was the biggest help for you in learning to accept yourself?

April 26: What have you learnt from the autistic community?

April 27: How did you feel about autism when you first found out you were autistic? How do you feel about it now?

April 28: Talk about things you struggle with as an autistic person. Why do you struggle with them? And what do you think could help you with the things you struggle with?

April 29: Talk about your strengths as an autistic person. What do you think your good at because of your autism?

April 30: Discuss autistic pride. What does autistic pride mean to you?

Awareness Isn’t Enough

Another April approaches, and #actuallyautistic advocates (ahh, alliterations) brace themselves for the wave of blue, puzzle pieces, Autism Speaks, and the illusion of awareness.

Allistics are ready to bring about awareness, but why does this bring groans, exhaustion, and dread to the autistic community?

Awareness has been framed around a concept that autism is a disease that needs to be cured, but many autistics don’t want to be cured.

Major charities like Autism Speaks (see my post about them here) fund major campaigns to try to find “the cause” of autism, and advertise the horrors of it, without working to eliminate the barriers autistic people face.

This is why the community pushes for #RedInstead, a movement aiming to create acceptance of autism, because awareness just simply isn’t enough.

So before you take out your blue and puzzle pieces, consider that we are not “missing a piece” of ourselves. Show off a neurodiversity symbol instead.

We wear red instead of blue to show our opposition to Autism Speaks, a charity that refuses to speak for us.

Allistics, we need you not only to say no to the tempting donation buttons and campaigns that Autism Speaks promotes- we need you to inform others why you are saying no. Every year I try to reach out to companies supporting Autism Speaks (a list is here), and explain why the charity is harmful. We need more voices to project ours. Not to speak FOR us but to speak WITH us and spread acceptance.

Acting Autistic, Acting Neurotypical

The other night I was on a plane, listening to a podcast about one of my favorite shows. In the podcast they were discussing a character who realizes the “system” doesn’t work for her, and that she doesn’t fit into a neat box.

Listening to this, about a character I relate to, it made me think of this system we live in, and how much it harms people. This isn’t just limited to autism, but this need to put humans into neat little boxes harms so many of us.

However, as an autistic person, I’ve often been driven to act “normal” in this society out of a fear of embarrassment. I’ve presented this act so well that I’ve had people refuse to believe my diagnosis. What these people don’t understand is that I am acting.

I think we all are to some degree, but autistic people have to learn how to act to be accepted.

It’s gotten to the point where we have to deprive ourselves of our own well being just so strangers can think of us a certain way.

It’s no news that I have sensory processing difficulties. But it is news to people when I have to explain the mechanics of sensory processing. Some sounds are painful to me, some smells make me gag. In the case today, it was eating noises. Chewing noises induce an actual chemical fight or flight response (look up misophonia), and for so long that fight has been against myself. I used to claw at myself when I was in class and someone would pop gum.

Before my flight I was waiting in line to board the plane, and someone behind me was eating chips loudly. My heart rate increased. Normally I would suffer through this, but today I plugged my ears.

It sounds silly, but I would never have done that a few years ago. Thinking about it this time, however, I thought “who do I hurt by plugging my ears?” No one. I get a few weird glances. But my act affects no one but myself, giving myself relief from a noise that harms me.

Also this past year, I confided in a coworker who I commute with that I suffer from this. I didn’t ask her to stop eating apples, but she did and now there’s an understanding between us that I appreciate. I can’t tell everyone everywhere that I’m on the spectrum, but who says I should suffer to maintain an image? My point in telling my coworker wasn’t to get her to stop even, just to understand why I may put in headphones and be disengaged for a while.

We have such a strict world of appearances that we force people to suffer to belong in it. It took me a long time to get here and feel ok doing things I need to. On the same note, I have had to unlearn my judgments about others. People who talk to themselves, people who rock more than I do, people who do things I don’t understand. Every time I feel this judgment creeping into my brain, I ask myself, is this person hurting me? And the answer is usually no. I’ve started shutting down others too when they make snap judgments on what someone is wearing or how they talk or anything. I usually at least get them to pause when I ask how it affects them.

So the moral of this post, is that we have to stop being afraid of “acting autistic.” I’m not “acting” autistic. I’m only ever acting neurotypical. I shouldn’t be afraid to stop that act. We shouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves or be afraid of people we don’t understand. When we can unapologetically be ourselves, we pave the way for a society that has to accept us and see us.