My best friend has started an awesome blog about her experience as an adult with autism. Be sure to check it out. Here’s the first post:
“Do you shit your pants? Because that’s what autistic people do. They shit their pants, and go into uncontrollable rages.” As the doctor’s curly-topped anvil-face inched closer to mine, I froze, like a rabbit in the headlights. I literally didn’t know what to do. His reaction was the last thing I’d expected. It took me another ten minutes of sexist twaddle like, “You seem like a bright young woman. Insomnia is usually a sign of a depressive episode coming on, and since that’s what you were diagnosed with, [this is after I’d been grilled on every (mis)diagnosis I’d had since infancy, and I’d stupidly answered honestly. He apparently picked his favorite out of six or seven] that’s probably what it is.” I am a 30 year old Autistic woman. I won’t go into my appearance or mannerisms, because there are as many interpretations of such things as there are people (myself included; as if anyone can accurately describe how they seem!). The incident I’ve described happened well over a year ago; I’m thinking about it now because of yet another slightly less traumatic incident that happened yesterday, again in a doctor’s office. I’m a very busy person who engages in far more social activities than any autistic person has the right to; this leads to excessive use of semicolons and short periods of serious burnout accompanied by all the symptoms of stress: nausea, insomnia, skin conditions, weight loss, panic attacks, et cetera. In attempts to feel in control of what is about to happen, whenever I go into a doctor’s office, I make lists. I make lists all the time for many reasons. Yesterday, I also happened to have with me a list of things I had to do this week. This filled an entire college-ruled notebook page, complete with a key at the top to denote tasks that involve financial hardship, those that could possibly be delayed, and those which had to be done ASAP. After ignoring almost everything I had said, asking questions and then interrupting the answers, the doctor then asked if he could photocopy my list. Despite the fact that various kinds of “doctors” have been photocopying my lists since I was 12 and nothing good has ever come of it, it always takes me by surprise, and I always reply affirmatively because I’ve been socially conditioned to agree or say yes when taken by surprise. This attitude is more or less standard when medical professionals are dealing with someone they consider a mental defective. The content of what you say or do is meaningless; the way in which you say it, frame your thoughts, how many times you move your hands; that’s the real info source. So they photocopy your to-do list and put it in some arcane file with all the other evidence of how defective and abnormal you are. The same place they keep all the other papers that invalidate and dehumanize you. This is not reflective of transcendent reality, it reflects reality in regard to how it feels, which to be perfectly honest, is all reality is for any of us. Try and think a moment about what “empirical” means, textbook definition-wise, as “observable by the senses”. Now juxtapose that with empirical fact: my brain is physically different than a “normal” brain. Oh, snap. My IQ is estimated to be somewhere between 138 and 167. My house is full of ashtrays, earplugs, and cats that interact with each other to an unfortunate degree. I think and speak more or less exactly how I write. I pin interestingly patterned pieces of fabric to my walls because they please me, and they also happen to interact with the cats, ashtrays, and earplugs to an unfortunate degree. I can write a ten-minute speech in less than five minutes, and a fifteen-page term paper in 8 hours, and read at a rate of 2 pages per minute/100 pages per hour. I have yet to see convincing evidence that numbers are finite, and therefore ignore them. I sometimes ask my fiancee to move objects out of the bedroom until I tell him to stop, because it reduces my stress levels and if I try and do it myself, I may start throwing things and crying. I wear pajamas whenever possible, and highly disapprove of women’s shoes. It is entirely possible I may never drive a car. What I am saying is that people who think they know about autism, especially medical authorities, have been more detrimental to my life than people who know almost nothing. Perhaps it is only that laypeople consider it impolitic to inquire about ones’ toilet training or lack thereof that has saved me from general ridicule? When it comes to disclosing my disability status, I feel much safer talking to the general public than a person supposedly educated in matters of the brain and body. It could be because in speaking to the layperson, I’m the one speaking from the position of experience, and therefore, authority. It could also be because of the difference in setting, or attitude. But the third and real reason I’m writing this is because I’m about to go listen to a group of people talk about their experiences with disclosing their disabilities, and until I have my say, it’s incredibly difficult for me to listen…really listen. So for their sake, and to give them the attention they deserve, I’d like to give a big Fuck You to the medical professionals who have made me feel confused, dehumanized, defective, hysterical, or hypochondriacal. Bite my bag. Now, let’s put on our listening face.

On Disclosure, and Listening

(11:34:56 PM) papillonskeleton: my depression is evening out but oh my god this morning i cried at the end of america’s next top model because the guest judge let all the girls stay instead of sending one home (11:34:59 PM) papillonskeleton: THAT’S NOT NORMAL (11:35:15 PM) papillonskeleton: what is wrong with those pills lmao (11:36:52… Read More

Hmmm, probably not.
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