What Autism Means To Me
It’s been a rough week so far, and I’m tired, so this will be short.
Autism has brought so much positivity into my life. I still don’t know if I qualify for a “formal” autism diagnosis, but it doesn’t really matter. The autistic community has accepted me, and supported me, and helped me to understand myself, and now I no longer feel isolated for my scattered handful of mental functioning deficits, and that is enough.
Autism has given me friends, and new hobbies, and new ways of thinking about myself, and of thinking about others, and thinking about thinking, and about education, and about human rights and dignity and intelligence.
A few days ago, I saw a screening of the documentary “Wretches and Jabberers,” the story of two men who grew up without any codified means of communication and then, as adults, traveled the world teaching others about autism and about the fact that intelligence does not require speech.
And I cried at the times in the film where I could understand the body language and needs of these men and their own aides did not.
And my dear friend and housemate flapped zir hands with me at the wonderful parts.
And zir boyfriend laughed with the two of us at some of the ridiculously clueless comments that a few allistic (non-autistic) audience members made afterward, and the three of us cheered for the two autistic young men who volunteered to come up to the microphone and tell the whole audience that they liked the film.
Autism means many different things to different people, including people on the spectrum and their families. I know that for many people, being autistic has involved a lot of pain and suffering and stigma and struggle.
I will continue to fight for a world in which being autistic does not have to involve any more pain or suffering or stigma than not being autistic.
Because to me autism means, and will always mean: laughter with happy flaps, and the fun of pointing out patterns and oddities to each other, and rocking while brainstorming about disability rights, and geeky jokes, and people who squee in joy with me at rainbow colors and the unexpected beauty of under-appreciated things like math, and science, and solitude.
To me, that is autism.
And I hope they never find a cure.