It appears that my recent diagnosis of Asperger’s was ideally timed. Today, an autism positivity flashblog is taking place, and I’ve had all week to figure out how to come at this in my own way.
If there’s one thing I know a lot about it’s autism (I know a whole lot about one or two other things as well, but we’ll focus on just one thing at a time today). Sure, I agree with the expression, “when you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Because it’s just as true as saying, “When you’ve met one person, you’ve met one person.” We’re all spectacular, unique snowflakes, and autism is just a part of what makes some of us shiny.
Are my kids and I impaired by autism? Yes. Of course we are. The way our brains are wired makes it difficult to understand the world sometimes. Two of the three of us are extremely clumsy. All three of us feel emotionally overwhelmed a lot. The sensory stuff is enough to make us want to climb into a sensory-balanced cave and never come out.
Fuck it, though. No, really. Fuck it.
This is who and how we are, and it’s okay. Do I wish the world were an easier place for us? Yeah, sure. But that is not the same thing as wishing away the autism. Without it, we wouldn’t be the same people, and I LOVE the people we are. “I wish I didn’t have Asperger’s” is, to me, the same as saying, “I wish I weren’t queer.” Both labels and what comes with them are part of how we form identity. Wishing away the parts of me, the parts of my kids that are different only reinforces the idea that different is bad. It isn’t. Yay, neurodiversity! Long live the myriad of wiring options for our brains!
These are the things I wish for: I wish I had more grace. I wish I could be more organized. I wish the world felt less overwhelming. I wish it didn’t feel like the world was ending when I experience communication difficulties with my partner. I wish my children never felt stupid or incapable of success. I wish we could all stay on top of life’s expectations for us. I wish people would stop wishing us away.
Don’t get me wrong. I recognize my privilege. I have kids who talk to me, who toilet independently, who have much more potential to join the capitalist system that accords more worth to the conventionally employable. I am also far from Miss Mary Sunshine all the time, as I curse my son losing his one pair of shoes, in the house, again, or as I cry myself stupid after my daughter has had another explosive meltdown. Not every single moment of living in the house that Asperger’s built is going to be stellar for me, for them.
It’s neither curse nor blessing, though, this world of ours. We’re not special for our disability, nor am I a poster girl for being successful in the face of such adversity. It is what it is, and we are who we are. Autistic, all of us, and more or less okay with that.