4/4/23 • Autism Awareness Month

4/4/23 • Autism Awareness Month
"What Aspergers Feels Like"

I’m seeing a lot of posts about Autism because - #autismawarenessmonth. I’m not quite sure how to interpret that… like “oh yes, I’m aware of the thing called autism!” Or is it more of a way to celebrate your autism? I have a whole lot of feelings about all of it but not really sure how to talk about it.

Since my labels are bestowed on me by a random swinging pendulum of mental health professionals, under the influence of drug companies, and with no real understanding of the irony in a label for a syndrome that can be summed up as “you’re super-smart, think outside the toy box, and have a lot of supersensitivities, but you’ll never be able to fit in socially”… you don’t fit in, except in this tribe of misfits. But, oh, no we’re doing away with that label and tossing you in to a larger category where you don’t fit any of the criteria and will be shunned by that tribe because you’re a misfit.

So, am I aware that I don’t belong? Or is the very fact that I’m aware… mean I DO belong? It’s really exhausting and lonely. I don’t identify with the autism label and I don’t identify with having an autism spectrum disorder. I object to the “disorder” part. That makes it sound like there’s something broken in me. I don’t know.

I DO identify with “2e” and I DO identify as “Neurodivergent”. ND includes rather than excludes. It’s more than just thinking differently, it’s about experiencing everything differently. My inability to tune out all the sensory overload, the ideas in my head, and the constant pain in my body… has gotten worse over time because I was too successful at pretending and masking (to try and fit in).

I’ve traveled all over the world, run my own businesses, published books, raised kids… success, right? Now, some days (weeks) I can’t leave my house. Some days, I can’t drive my car to the dump without a panic migraine (and loss of vision). I can’t go to the grocery store, it leaves me exhausted for days. If I ask for help, I feel ashamed. Or worse, the ones who should be helping, publicly shame me. This is the part that is the “invisible disability”. The stuff that makes me so angry!

But there is also an “invisible ABILITY”. When no one is putting extra demands on me, when I have support and acceptance, when I’m allowed to be my weird, quirky, unexplainable self… I can paint and draw and write and create really cool things!

I do know that with my service human, my service dog, and an Alice (from the Brady Bunch!) - I would be a lot calmer, able to function better, create more, and better run my business. Maybe even make some friends!

So. Yeh. I’m not sure how to talk about autism. But with some support, I can draw about it.