I am a poetess.
I belong to Wonderland.
I secretly love Automatons.
I am an Autistic Adult.
I am devoutly Roman Catholic.
I have a big family, both by blood and by heart.
I am a college student.
And this is what I think of pretty much everything.
and it went much more amazingly then I ever thought it would.
When I talked about the mom who talked about wanting to kill her autistic daughter in front of that daughter in the Autism Speaks video Autism Every Day, a girl in the back cried.
One of the girls, Maddie, kept a running commentary in the back, inserting things like, “No way!” and “That’s horrible!”
It was the hardest speech I’ve ever given, and I really didn’t think it was going to be. I just kept getting so damn upset. Especially when talking about the research they do with pre-natal testing, and the fact that one of their own scientists on their own website is cited saying “Autism is the worst thing that could happen to someone”. I just kept wondering if my mother would have chosen to keep me, or had ever thought of killing me, when I was younger (and much less acclimated). I texted her later and her answer was- NO. You were difficult, and no one would believe me that you were that difficult. You made me cry, sometimes, because I felt like a bad mother… but I always knew you were SPECIAL. And not in a special-needs-special kind of way. But in a I never knew I could love someone this much kind of way.
The question and answer part was the best, though. Maddie, the same running commentary girl, is a nanny in her hometown. She herself nannies a girl with Downs Syndrome, and her best friend nannys three autistic boys. She says it makes her the most upset when people look at them differently- not when the kids themselves do something ‘frustrating’- and that it was the ignorance of other people that made her sick, not those children.
Later, one of the boys in my class asked a question pertaining to the search for an autism cure. Namely, he was asking why I thought it was so bad that Autism Speaks puts all of their effort into a cure, using the example that “HIV doesn’t have a cure, but we don’t give up trying to find it”. I kept trying to answer, but I can’t really feel and think at the same time and my words kept getting jumbled in my head and I could feel them all looking at me and my face got really hot and I went back to stuttering and stamping my feet trying to respond (in my opinion, there’s nothing about us that needs to be ‘cured’, there’s just some stuff that needs to be worked with more). The rest of the class, seeing my discomfort, immediately rushed to my rescue. Four girls, one right after another, defended the autistic community and clearly explained the dangers of portraying autistic individuals as people who need to be ‘fixed’. I felt relieved, and really quite proud of them.
And proud of myself, too. I felt that, to have them make such an emotional response over something that they themselves didn’t have any first hand knowledge in, I must have done something right with my speech. The fact that even the choice of their words in defense were empowering, without once saying that autistics ‘suffer’ from autism, or referring to the autistic community as a burden or victims in any form of speech, rather than pitying helped. The fact that they wanted to ask questions as well (the rest were less controversial questions, such as ‘are there autistic people who support autism speaks’ or ‘how was it for you growing up’ and ‘how did this affect you personally’), showed that they were willing to listen to the voice of an actual Aspie, and not the voice of a ‘non-profit’ monster of an organization like Autism Speaks.
These people are one the reasons why I try, every single day, to find that common ground between myself and NTs. They give me the hope that I will be accepted, in my entirety, and not just for the ways that I have learned to behave. They give me hope to my peers in the autism spectrum, and for those who haven’t learned just how amazing neurodiversity is.
This is Autism Awareness.