- I have sensory issues. I have trouble with heat, loud/repetitive noises, clearly artificial smells, and florescent lights.
- I get meltdowns, shutdowns, and sensory overloads.
- I am semi-verbal a lot of the times, meaning I can speak but it takes a lot of effort to do so
- I am fully verbal (or, as I consider, 3/4th verbal) other half of times; I can speak but I will trip on my words and restart my sentences. I need loose scripts.
- I have trouble making friends and maintaining friendships.
- I have trouble with social cues. I don’t really understand what categorizes as “weird.”
- I am medium support. I have trouble doing “simple” tasks like driving and cooking.
But on the other hand,
- I have intense special interests such as psychology, philosophy, autism itself, and many more. I can even categorize it as far as anything academia. They bring joy to my life in a degree allistic [non-autistic] people cannot understand. This alone can make up for everything else, if you insist on seeing that way. I can infodump for hours about this.
- I am very good with written words and writing not in spite of my verbal difficulties, but because of it.
- I am compassionate. I personally know the struggles. I have fluctuating empathy, empathizing you when hyperempathy strikes, and sympathizing when my empathy is low. Compassionate either ways.
- If I treasure you, you are really truly special, and I will pour my whole genuine heart out to you. I don’t allow many people into my space, but if I do, I am going to grab onto you for ages on end.
People may not realize what the word “spectrum” means when used to describe autistic spectrum. They think of it as a linear thing, ranging from “high functioning” and thus better off and happier because we are not plagued and chained by this autism thing, to “low functioning”, whose life is nothing but misery, torture, and dread, “it must suck living like this!”, and somehow they think they are qualified to label us better than we know ourselves.
The truth is, that’s not true. A color gradient is the one ranging from white to grey to black; the color spectrum is a rainbow, and every color is a trait, and if you have enough traits, no matter the severity, you are autistic. I may have a medium range in everything, while the person left of me has severe sensory issues and a hard time socializing, yet is fully verbal, while the person on my right is quite the literal opposite. We are equally as autistic. We just have different needs.
And contrary to popular stereotyped beliefs, some autistics, catagorized “low functioning”, who are constantly nonverbal (and thus somehow assumed to be thoughtless and emotionless?),rocks themselves all the time are some of the happiest people alive; they figured out ways to communicate without speaking, perhaps through typing, or through dictation. And they LOVE their special interests. And on the other hand, I know so many supposed “high functioning” autistics with mental disorders—often several of them—as we know we are different, other people hate us for it, and therefore we learned to hate ourselves for it, using every bit of energy to mask and appear neurotypical, but we can never truly become neurotypical, thus we burnout and loose ourselves, over and over again.
At my worst, I am nonverbal. I rock. I scream and I meltdown. Or I shutdown. I will want claw my face out from all the painful noises. Strangers who see me then may call me “low functioning.” Other people may disagree and label me as “high functioning” instead, for in front of them, I can talk, I can have friends, and they would “never guess you’re autistic if you never tell me!” (by the way that’s not a compliment).
“High functioning” is used to invalidate and justify need-neglectance. “Low functioning” is used to humiliate, degrade, and dehumanize. That’s why I like support labels. It actually conveys something.
Friends and acquaintances describe me as “curious”, “passionate”, “a talented writer”, “mature”. And also “innocent”, “sensitive”, “aloof”, “like a child”. Those are my autistic traits. Those are also me. For autism is me, I am autistic, and without Autism I would be a totally different person. And I like myself as I am now. Who doesn’t have strength and flaws? Which neurotypical child grew up without some level of difficulties for the parent (or, for some people I know, A LOT OF difficulties)? Why are autistic people different now?
Being autistic does not make me pathetic, nor does it make me a tragedy, a epidemic in need of curing.
Sometimes my autistic traits sucks. Meltdown sucks. Shutdown sucks. Sensory overload sucks. Not being able to fit into the majority and not having any true friends back when you are in middle school—which, to the middle school me, that was my entire world—sucks. Masking, having to mask to appear “normal” [neurotypical], and the subsequent autistic burnout sucks. And, yes, sometimes when I get into a lump, into a bad place, I do wish I was not so autistic. I do hate my autism.
BUT. I know that is my depressive self-deprecation talking. When it ends, I know I don’t actually hate my autism. I know I am proud of being autistic. Because without it, perhaps I will not so passionate in learning, in writing, and in drawing. Perhaps I will not know how to manipulate words in such a lyrical way, paraphrasing compliments I received. Perhaps I would not have known what I wanted to do with my life all the way back when I was in Middle School. Perhaps I will not feel the world in such an intense and unique way. Perhaps I will not be so angered by injustice and thus so set on advocacy and demand change. Perhaps I will not find such a unique group of friends that are just as quirky and weird and passionate and sensitive as me, and perhaps I will not have learned to treasure it as much as I do now. Perhaps infodumping won’t bring such joy and relief upon my shoulders and make me feel more alive than before.
I am autistic. And proud. And ableism won’t bring me down.
RedInstead. Autism don’t speak unless autistic people are speaking.