I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this blog. What are my goals here?
First and foremost, I want to portray autism in a positive light. Sadly, many people still view it as a negative thing that should be feared and extinguished. Autistic people have so many gifts to offer, and I hope to share these gifts with the world through my family’s stories.
However, I have had this nagging thought in the back of my mind for awhile….that I need to share the hard parts too. The truth is that autism is not all sunshine and roses 100% of the time. Autistic people will always be at a disadvantage in some aspects of life. We need to try to navigate through a world that is intense, overwhelming, confusing, and getting more and more fast-paced. Things that come naturally to neurotypical people need to be thought through using an autistic person’s considerable intellect. We see the small details, and have to sequentially put them together in order to see the “big picture” that others can infer instantly and effortlessly. We can come to the same conclusions in the end, but it takes more time and brain power for someone on the spectrum….and the world simply doesn’t slow down to accommodate these cognitive differences.
Autism truly is an invisible disability.
Yes, it comes with some interesting and impressive gifts. I can hear a song just once and know every lyric. I could tell you what I was wearing for any significant day of my entire life, going all the way back to childhood (I now have an ongoing mental catalog of my daughter’s outfits too). I have memorized the name of every Goodmama cloth diaper from the years 2008-2014 (this was my main “special interest” for years). I rock at trivia games because I have a good memory for lots of facts.
But…I have days where I cannot leave my house because I just can’t face people. If someone unexpectedly knocks on my door, I have an immediate panic reaction. I don’t answer my phone or return phone calls. I loathe the phone with every fiber of my being. I have lost friends, and sadly, family members from my life because of my inability to maintain regular interactions with people.
I am horrible with directions. I can get lost in the town that I grew up in, just driving to the post office or any other place that I have been to 481 times before. I have been told my entire life that I have “no common sense.” I am constantly forgetting things. My organizational skills are basically nonexistent, and my penchant for “collections” is in danger of crossing over into hoarding territory. And let’s not talk about the embarrassing number of times that I have left my headlights on and killed my car’s battery, ok?
It’s not easy living in a world where you know, with every fiber of your being, that you are different. Also, because I am extremely sensitive and perceptive to the emotional states of those around me, I know that THEY know I am different. I see it in the way that people look me over, quizzically, as if trying to put their finger on what it is. I feel them questioning it, and then deciding that my aloofness must actually be unfriendliness or conceitedness (I can assure that it is neither of those things). It’s as if I carry some kind of energy of….otherness….that is somehow unsettling and intimidating.
All I can say is thank GOODNESS for the internet. I have been able to foster true connections with people, and find others who are like me. The person I am online is the real me, the me I wish I could be in face to face interactions, if there wasn’t this goddamned wall between me and everyone else that try as I might, I simply cannot break through.
And thank goodness for this blog. I have decided to be a completely open book here. This is who I am, after so many years of feeling like a fraud, an actress in the never-ending, constantly changing production that is life.
I will never stop trying to portray autism positively. It has made me who I am, and for nearly the first time ever, I am starting to like that person. ❤
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. It most certainly is not. There are thorns, and there is rainfall. But the sunbeams are coming through more frequently now. I can appreciate their warmth, while still acknowledging the raindrops’ existence.