Tag Archives | autistic identity

The Passing of a Generation

derived from <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/3649859916">no passing zone (1 of 1)</a> by Jo Naylor/flickr, used under <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">creative commons by 2.0</a>When I published Letting Him Out on May 30, 2015, I suspected I had a winner. Writing the piece is what drove me to go public with Living Amongst Humans. It was a raw exposition of the arc of my autistic existence over decades, with a well-disguised metaphor that I revealed with dramatic effect. I expected people would be moved. Still, I was surprised when, in a very short period of time, many thousands read it.  I reveled in comments such as, “I cried for an hour after reading this.” and, “Breathtaking piece really felt how life would be for my Autistic boy as he grows to an adult,” and even, “This is the most powerful thing I have ever read.” And then, on August 17 I read David M. Perry’s tweet: “An amazing essay on the struggle of passing.”

Passing? I was passing? That hurt. It felt like criticism, even if I didn’t understand “passing” in that context. I wasn’t trying to pass in my essay. I was trying to stay alive. So I researched passing. I read about it on Wikipedia (where else to go first?). Every word stabbed. Reading further articles written by autistic people confirmed my original reaction. Passing was not good. Passing meant the suppression of natural autistic tendencies to fit in.

Infographic – Off the Spectrum

Infographic sticker: How Autistic Are You? It's not that simpleThe use of the term “Autism Spectrum” is misleading. It gives the impression that there is a single scale by which you can classify every Autistic person. The Autism Spectrum was created for diagnosis, which, in many cases, is valuable. I myself have benefited from it. But there is a danger in using this oversimplification, especially when it spreads beyond the bounds of diagnosis. It leaves the impression that every Autistic person can be characterized by where they stand — a single position — on this spectrum. It makes Autism a single thing. It allows for the question, “How Autistic are you?”

There are so many dimensions to Autistic individuals that a single spectrum cannot contain them. There are people who are left-handed and Autistic. There are musicians, swimmers, chess-players, politicians, mountain climbers, CEOs, stockbrokers, cowboys, programmers, fashion models, polar explorers and so much more.

This infographic delves into the disorder of the Autistic Spectrum.

Infographic – What Causes Autism?

What Causes Autism? - InfographicAutism is often looked at as an affliction—something that is acquired, as a disease would be. But autism isn’t something that you catch, like influenza. Rather, it is something that you are, like tall or left-handed or female.  We need to stop looking for poisons in the environment, or something that is eaten or injected, as the cause for autism. Autism isn’t something that can be washed away or flushed out of a person. We need to cherish autistic people for the unique individuals they are, with a different type of brain. We can’t cure it away. We shouldn’t want to. Autism is forever. Autistic children come from the love of two people, not from poison.

This infographic identifies the root cause of all these autistic people that are showing up these days.

New Infographic – Demystifying the Puzzle

Colored jigsaw puzzle pieces with a question mark in the center

The ubiquitous symbol of autism, proudly and compassionately displayed by parents, caretakers and professionals, is the multi-colored jigsaw puzzle. It is an apt symbol from that point of view. Some of these people, though, as well as a much larger percentage of autistic individuals, believe the symbol objectifies a class of people. It associates them with an illness, in the same sense that a pink ribbon does so regarding breast cancer. Autism is, in some sense, and to varying degrees, a disability. Autism is much more than that, though. It is a difference—with challenges, delights and surprises as much as any other human variation, especially those involving the most complex object we know about in the universe: the human mind.

This new infographic makes clear to the world of humans that there is much more to autism than can be captured by a puzzling symbol.

Tune That Name

Words are important to humans. People can be offended by words alone. Humans especially value names. The quickest way to insult a person is by intentionally using the wrong name, or a diminutive form, or mispronouncing it. The same applies to names for groups of people. Humans are expert at grouping populations into specific named collections (see Boundary Issues) and then defending the names of their own group while finding inappropriate names for others.

I have difficulty being offended by words or misused names. I depend much more on a person’s actions than words, but I have learned through a lifetime of careful observation that humans are different.

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