I will level with you for a moment. I frequently read the online journal of one Lydia Brown for a number of different reasons. But one reason is that I like her and admire her for what she does. She makes me think of what I could be doing if certain things in my life had gone a different way. But to be in agreement with another person when they are writing about aspects of living on the autistic spectrum is very heartening indeed for this burned-out shell. Especially when it is this frequently.
Recently, Lydia wrote on her Fudgebook page about her visit to the National Transition Conference. I have no idea what the hell that is, and I do not care so much because although it is clearly important to her, it has no bearing on the parts that are important to me. The point here is that Lydia‘s post on Fudgebook about the subject consists of two parts. The first part is about a positive experience in which someone recognised her for her work with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. This is a great thing to write about and share with the people in the audience. It heartens people like me to read of other peoples’ experiences to the effect that not every outside is a normalistic idiot.
Unfortunately, a conversation with a stranger went badly (this is how I interpret her wording). Lydia states that she listened to a stranger talk about autism and autistic people, and told them, “I’m autistic”. So a second stranger, who was apparently somehow part of the conversation, immediately “got in my face” (her words) and told her, “You mean you have autism”. She responded to them in very diplomatic terms that I will not go into here, except to say that the last sentence she said to this person, and she quoted in comments on her Fudgebook post, was “I know many other autistic people who also prefer to be called autistic and not people with autism”.
I would like to say something to the person who got into Lydia’s face and told her she means something that implies that autism is something separate from her. The short version is fukk you. The long version, well, that requires me to have a name to refer to them by, so I will refer to them as Normie McShitface from this point going forward. Normie, I need to be quite frank with you. I am sure you must feel like a real big boy getting in Lydia‘s face and telling her what she is allowed to call herself. I can understand that, as the images she does post on her public Fudgebook carry the implication that she is a fairly small woman, which is common among women of her ethnicity. But I am here to tell you, Normie McShitface, there are some autistic adults in this world you do not get in close range with and tell them that they have to call themselves something that implies an essential component of their identity is separate to them. I am one of them. Partly because I am probably substantially larger than Lydia (at five-eight and change, and ~230 pounds, I would hope so), but mostly because I am a very different kind of autistic individual than Lydia.
You see, when I was a child, and even when I was of comparable age to Lydia, people believed that the way my autism manifested in my everyday interaction made me bad, lazy, useless, inferior, subhuman, or combinations thereof. During my childhood, and until I began to respond with great force, people even persisted in a belief that I should be trained out of these behaviours. So allow me to tell you something, Normie: if you told me to my face that I am only allowed to call myself something that implies that the only thing that really makes me different from my abusers is somehow separate to me, I would hit you. And I do not mean gently. I mean you would wake up in an emergency ward with concerned people all around, checking you for signs of concussion, possibly as they mopped blood up from streams coming out of your ears.
Okay, I am going to go onto a different track here. I will write further about this subject in another post. But I will cut this track about Lydia‘s confrontation with a separationist (that is, a person who wants autism to be regarded as a separate thing from the autistic individual) short. I will talk about something else here for a moment. I promise that it is important or relevant.
People who have read everything that I have written have seen me lapse into displays of rage and anger on several occasions. But the thing that people should be most upset by or disappointed with is this: all of the lashing out that comes out of me both verbally and physically could have been avoided. All of it. It has reached this level by stages. You see, in a society that is truly democratic, not normalistic, and capable of property caring for its citizens, an adult who is told “the reason people have been treating you this way all your life is because you are autistic” is not then told “now go crawl in a hole and wait to die”. That is how one ends up with a lonely, bitter adult who is staring across the road at middle age and wishes he had something to go out and kill normies with. I cannot believe I still have to keep writing about this over and over.
From rereading the comments on Lydia‘s post about this event, I have since learned that she told them how wrong they were and exactly why. At least, her version thereof. I think this is a good thing. I have also had some unpleasant conversations with idiots who do not know their arsehole from their earhole about autism and autism civil rights. And I have had to tell them, flat out, that I will not tolerate language spoken around me that implies my autism is a separate entity to me. I have talked aloud in front of them about making a video in which someone who looks enough like me (my elder cousin is a candidate that springs to mind) acts as a representation of my autism. When he is taken away, all that I am in terms of what my brain does, goes with him. My writing, my photography, you name it. It goes. Needless to say, I find the idea that anyone would consider it acceptable to imply that that is a separate thing to me unacceptable.
This means that if you work in disability support services or similar, and you start telling me to call myself an adult with autism, I will warn you once only. If you do it a second time, I will inform you that I am going to contact whatever organisation oversees the work yours does, and make a complaint. If you do it a third time, you will walk away from it with a broken nose at minimum. Those are the rules.
If you have read this far and want to know what the point was, hold on. It will be coming very soon.
Powered by Qumana