Life on the Spectrum

Archive for March, 2012

I Don’t Hate Autism

I don’t hate autism.

I know that there are parents who hate their children’s autism. I do not know what it is like to be a parent of a neurotypical child, never mind an autistic child. But I do know what it is like to be an autistic person, and I do not hate my autism.

I do find sometimes find autism to be frustrating and annoying. I don’t like some of the problems it presents. I don’t like having hypersensitive hearing, for example. Yet there are some ways that having hypersensitive hearing helps me in job as a transcriber. I can hear things that others can’t.

Autism is a part of me. It is inseparable from who I am as a person. There are, of course, other facets of me; I love cats, I love to read, and I love to write. It’s a bit of a stretch to say I love my autism, but as I said, it is part of myself, and I do not want to hate myself.

If I’d been given a choice as a kid to be autistic or be neurotypical, I imagine I’d have chosen to be neurotypical. I wouldn’t have chosen to be something that meant I never had friends, that meant that I was bullied, that meant that I was an outcast among my peers. As an adult, however, I would not give up being autistic. I would not give up the talents and abilities I have that I believe came from being autistic.

I have long believed that many of the problems that we have as autistic people come from the world around us. The world is usually set up for the majority, and the majority is neurotypical or at least non-autistic. This is why there are so many fluorescent lights and uncomfortable clothes and loud noises everywhere you go. If there were more autistic people, then people wouldn’t be expected to wear such uncomfortable things as ties or pantyhose. No one would make wool sweaters or constricting clothing. Labels wouldn’t stick out of the back of shirts. Everyone would wear what was comfortable for them and other people wouldn’t judge them for it.

I have never understood the love that some people have for volume. I don’t know why the volume dials on most music players enable you to turn the volume so high. I fully believe that the current generation and those to come will have hearing damage long before they hit their senior years, and it will be caused by listening to music turned to incredibly high volumes while wearing headphones or earbuds.

I often wonder why concerts must be so loud. I realize that the back rows need to be able to hear, but I don’t think the people on the next block over need to be able to hear. I’ve come out of concerts with my hearing temporarily decreased, and everything sounds muffled. I feel sorry for the band members who are up on stage performing next to the giant speakers. Is there such a thing as an Aspie rock musician? Oh, yes, there is one. His name is Gary Numan.

One positive thing I think that autism has given me is the freedom to stop caring what other people think. I’ve realized that what is most important is what I think. This doesn’t mean, as some people believe, that I don’t care if I hurt people. This is not what I mean at all. What I mean is that I am not going to worry about “looking stupid.” If I want to dance in the supermarket, then I will dance in the supermarket. If I want to talk baby talk to my cats when we’re at the vet’s office, then I will talk baby talk to my cats when we’re at the vet’s office.

I am autistic. Autism is part of me. It is neither all good nor all bad. It has positive aspects and negative aspects. I can’t pick and choose which parts of autism I will keep and which parts I will discard. I have to keep the whole package.