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"Overcoming Autism" is not on my To Do list

I am autistic, and my autism is not separate from my identity. "Autistic" is part of what defines me, just like "college student" and "American" and "short". If it's okay for me to say that being female is part of who I am, then why can't I say that about autism? Or is it because disability is something that's so terrible that we need to reject it and pretend it doesn't exist?

Obviously, I'm not some kind of walking blob of autism, because autism doesn't come in blobs; it comes with people.

One of the most patronizing and pitying things people think about disabled people is that our one and only goal in life should be to become non-disabled, or to hide our disabilities as much as possible, or to make up for the disability by doing something amazing and justifying our existence. We can't just live our lives; we can't have goals and dreams completely unrelated to our disabilities. In fact, we can't have "real" lives at all as long as we remain disabled.

It's as though we're written down, like stories in a book, and the only possible happy ending is to become non-disabled or somehow approximate being non-disabled. And you know what? Those stories aren't the ones we write. They're written for us. They're pushed on us, expected of us.

I say we have the right to write our own stories. In my story, I am autistic, and I am fine with that. I want to become the person I know I can be, the person I am meant to be. I determine what my identity is, and I determine what my goals are, and spending my life becoming some kind of neurotic faux-neurotypical is not among them.



One of my biggest peeves ever is people who call themselves "autism parents". Because, apparently, they're not parenting kids - just autism. *rolleyes*

The really bitterly funny part is that those parents are often among the most vocal and insistent folks about person-first language.

I'll use person-first if someone requests it, or when talking to people I don't know about disabilities I haven't got, but usually I don't like it. It just sounds patronizing. I feel like I'm saying, "I know you have this horrible condition, but see, I'm being so nice by pretending it's completely irrelevant to your identity and doesn't affect you at all!" As if it weren't right there in front of me, a plain fact. And a neutral one, not something to tiptoe around as though it's shameful.
It's not like us non-disabled folks are all living exemplary lives. Look how many of us have trouble with work, trouble with relationships, health complaints, or are constantly posting sarcastic e-cards on facebook...combine those four categories and that's probably almost the entire non-disabled population. It makes no sense to hold those who can't take as much for granted to higher standards than we hold ourselves.
Au contraire. You see, the disabled have to be much *better* than anybody else, just to prove we have the right to exist!

No, it doesn't make any sense to me, either. On the one hand we're supposed to be inspirational; on the other hand we're objects of pity that everybody's supposed to look at and be glad they're not us. I'm sick of that baggage. Can't we just be people?

Seriously, though, I don't believe in taking things for granted in the first place... being disabled hasn't got much to do with that. When a person sees all the good things in their lives as though they were completely unremarkable and to be expected, they miss out on a lot of joy.

Edited at 2014-03-20 04:14 am (UTC)
I also think it would be better if we didn't take things for granted. It's kind of funny how illogical people are about certain things, e.g., being nostalgic for the past and wishing they lived in their own past or another epoch when, in reality, their own past was probably worse than they remember it being and the average person in most past epochs wasn't that well off in the end. Sure, the economy was better in the 1950s and early 1960s, but there was far less social justice and quite a bit more childhood disease, and yes, there were still autistics and other neurologically challenged people despite there having been fewer vaccinations. I think a lot of nostalgia is taking for granted what we have now as well as forgetting the things that stunk about the past.

As for the whole pity thing and disabled people having to be better...that reminds me of another funny thing about a lot of people: they almost always have an excuse for why they themselves aren't doing well, yet they expect disabled people to be better than they are and "overcome their disabilities" so as to prove their worth and make the world less depressing or something. I guess in a way, your average person always holds other people to a higher standard than themselves, whether they're disabled or not: if they screw up they had a tough situation, but if someone else screws up it was their fault. But when I do the opposite, they worry that I'm being too hard on myself, when psychological research shows that the average person is too easy on him or herself.


I won't wish you luck or so.. Just wanted to let you know that I cannot see if people are autistic or not. I don't even know if that does even matter. What might matter is how you consider yourself and if you are fine with that or not. So... after some readings on your journal (which is quite interesting btw) I finally decided to comment :)
I'm fine with it. :) Indeed, some people can't tell I'm autistic; they assume that I'm eccentric, nerdy, but not disabled. Not everyone knows what real-life autism looks like; nor does it really matter that they don't. I don't really care whether someone knows I'm autistic--I care about whether someone knows I'm human and acts accordingly.