Saturday, October 31, 2015

I am Autistic and Here Are Some Facts I Would like You to Know. #ASDay


I am a life loving, intelligent, paradoxical, unique individual. I am also A/autistic. (Note: if you take issue with my identity first language please read the links regarding this further in the post before addressing me.) I feel it is important to come out with my diagnosis and this post was sent to previous people who may have heard rumours but did not know otherwise. *Regular readers I apologize for this repetitive information.*

I am a very private person. I have changed my name and my blog addy multiple times to make it harder for people to find me. I value my solidarity and my solitude. Yet, I still like to put thoughts out into the world and connect with varied people like me- thus the fact that I still blog. I do not participate in large platforms of social media and have asked all of my family and close friends to keep pictures/ information of me and my family off their Facebooks ect. unless they have my consent. I am well protected by my family because of the way I perceive the world. I am not less- I am simply different. Because of the way the world is set up, I can be vulnerable. At the same time, I am also strong because of this. It's a paradox. I can be socially awkward and accidentally insulting. I can also be extremely perceptive and comforting. I value my tiny circle of support and my hermit lifestyle. I LOVE my life because of these safety measures I have taken. I prefer my blog name or nickname and often cringe when hearing my real name unless it is from people of my childhood. My family of five is diverse and enriching. I have an amazing support (see THIS post.)  I feel this is important for people to know. My diagnosis and my children's diagnosis and my husband's ADD diagnosis were probably one of the highlights of our life. We found validation, hope, explanation and help by finding out who we ARE.

I have noticed that FINALLY Autism/ Aspergers/ ADHD and multiple other Neurodiverse conditions are beginning to become more common stories. The dialogue is becoming more prominent. There are so many misconceptions about what Autism is. I hear terms like "high functioning or low functioning" thrown out a lot. This bothers me. In some situations a person who can seem high functioning can "act lower functioning" and vice versa. See THIS post. I find it ridiculous that some people ask me to "prove" I am Autistic or show them my papers. That is no one's business but my own, however, I choose to share it because how my brain works, how I perceive the world, and how I love my life are all a testament to the beauty of individual people. This also contributes to a better understanding of diagnosis and life after. Perhaps people who knew me or know me, will rethink their misconceptions of Autism?

Sometimes when a parent "comes out" with information regarding any Neurodiverse wiring, someone in the commenting crowd has to write what a unique challenge or blessing it will be for that said parent. While it should go without saying that each child is unique and a 'blessing', there should not be extra admiration and applause for a parent just because they may happen to parent a differently wired child. These specific comments come from a place of either well meaning or ignorance. Ignorance can be easily remedied and no one is blamed for not knowing something until they have access to information. Well meaning intents, however, when challenged, often cause a martyr syndrome in regards to the person being challenged, instead of individual questioning of their own self ideals and the change needed for positive conversations.

The question often comes up- who gets to speak about Autism? This blogger thoroughly discusses this question in the following link:  He covers  the fact that practitioners, parents of autistics, and the many differing perceptions of "high functioning" versus "low functioning" sometimes hinder the dialogue and it is important to consider all angles the information comes from and to listen to the varying people who actually are neurodiverse. Being autistic is relevant to my life...I get to discuss it.

The reason why a Neurodivergent (being non typically wired) diagnosis is important is because our society is set up for cookie cutter "normalcy." I have often heard the argument that "no one is normal" to dismiss my statements of individuality or diagnosis in my children or I. It is meaning to be inclusive but instead it separates us. Because our experiences ARE different and we would appreciate the validation of that fact. North America is a culture that values loud noises, constant stimulation, 'proper' language, politically correct statements, cookie cutter schools, specific religion/ christianity, extroversion and sporting events. From birth to death our culture is set up for those who can extrovert, adapt and 'play the game.' Our society treats non disabled people as the standard of "normal living." This is called ableism. "Ableism is the discrimination or prejudice against people who have disabilities. Ableism can take the form of ideas and assumptions, stereotypes, attitudes and practices, physical barriers in the environment, or larger scale oppression. It is oftentimes unintentional and most people are completely unaware of the impact of their words or actions."  Click HERE for a brief guide into the rhetoric of Ableism. 

What is the key to stopping ignorance or to challenge well meaning statements? BE EDUCATED and in turn please educate others. Read articles by the people who actually have the neurodivergent wiring. Parental blogs are fine if the parents are quite understanding and embrace the social model of disability, but to hear a first hand experience it is obviously best to come FROM those who live the experience.

I have previously expressed what I am trying to say best in this link: This post includes three wounding statements made specifically to Autistics:

1.) "Doesn't Everyone Have a Little Autism In Them?" (Short answer- NO.)
2.) "Maybe if Autistics stopped talking about their Autism/ Stopped writing articles/ Or sending me articles on how to treat them, I would just treat them normally the way they would like." (Short answer- We don't want to be treated normally but we DO want respect and dignity.)
3.) Phrases that are often said to Autistics that are rude but often born out of ignorance and not malice like "You must be very high functioning." 
Please check out this link to see why these statements are wounding and to hear better responses:

When speaking about any difference often person first language versus identity first language comes up eventually. It is politically correct to use PFL, but in the Autistic community most of us prefer identity first language. I am autistic. I use both PFL and IFL interchangeably but it irks me when someone who doesn't share my diagnosis, gets me in trouble for referring to myself or children using IFL. If it is someone who shares my diagnosis, I respect what they would prefer to be called and will use PFL if wished. See these links for more:

I am autistic. I am also so much more. I am ME. Autism is included in this because it directly affects how I see the world and it is an important part of me. My essence was not magically changed over 8 years ago when I received my diagnosis. I simply had an explanation for why life was full of misunderstanding, sickness, processing difficulties and the feeling of being 'less' then culture wanted me to be... yet my life experiences were also enchanting, magical, and beautifully different too. In cognitive therapy and through books and links I have educated myself and changed perceptions of self, but the soul essence is still the same (ever evolving) me. I have learned how to speak the nuerotypical (normally wired) language when needed or at least take a step back and understand normally wired people more often. I have worked hard to adjust to a world that does not always give the same courtesy back to my adjustments. I have also found awesome normally wired/neuroptyical people who embrace my neurodiversity or find it their favourite aspect of me. I also deeply value their neurotypical way of being. Together we are a beautiful team in life.

All these concepts/language terms/ considerations are a learning process and I don't blame anyone for not knowing these things. However, I do feel that those who have access, by knowing someone like me, with this information, should at least consider these thoughts. ESPECIALLY if you are a person who KNOWS people with varying diagnosis or have had a friend who parents a child with different wiring. We must be the change we wish to see in the world. We must read experiences BY those that experience the world differently. We must also pass these links onward. Compassion and empathy start by entering the conversation and learning the language and the culture of those who are different. Full understanding may not be attainable but respect may begin to become the norm.

*If you want to read more personal excerpts of mine or different topics I address click on the Asperger's/Autism label below this post. Also check out the links to my friend Cynthia's blog "Musings of an Aspie" on the side. *

 Happy Halloween:) I love this day because it's a celebration of all things's also possible to dress how I want and not receive any flack for it:) Stay safe and have fun!

* First Song Choice: "The Wizard and I." This is how I felt growing up...a longing to have validation and not be the 'green girl' anymore.
*Second song Choice: Post diagnosis and working through that, becoming educated in the social model of disability, I finally embrace 'my greenness'...and think it's awesome. I decide to Defy Gravity and my life changes for the better despite the fact that I still don't fit...but now I like that fact on most days.


CalledtoQuestion said...

Great insight and wonderful advocacy. Thanks for sharing what is so deeply close to you. Love who you are even when there are times we misunderstand one another, we always seem to come around and be all the closer for it. It is always important to seek understanding of all parties, but it can be especially hard for those who have neurodiversity's to be given the understanding they so deserve. I have A.D.D. so I have a hard time keeping my attention on what is at hand but I do not struggle with being A.D.D., I struggle with being human. You are indeed "Awe"tistic and I love every bit of who you are. You are a diamond in the rough, and I am so fortunate to have found you.

Kmarie said...

Thanks love. I am glad you are on my team...and also an integral part of my soul. I am also fortunate you pursued me:)

Rae said...

I loved this coming out post. It was so thoughtful and moving.

Kristin said...

you are so loved and i am so thankful for your voice and all you have taught me!!! ❤❤❤

Kmarie said...

Rae: Thanks...I have loved witnessing your own journey in this process

Kirstin: I am thankful for your validation and friendship!xoxo

Unknown said...

You bring up many useful points. I am an ardent IFL user myself because, to me, PFL sounds like an attempt to shove a diagnostic label under the rug. As a choleric, I face reality head on and don't deny facts. I don't always like the fact that something is true, but I acknowledge that it is true. Advocating from different perspectives is like tuning. In band, section members often tune to the principal member instead of to a mechanical tuner so that, not only will the band be in tune, they will be in tone. It is the neurotypical parents of autistic children who should "tune to" autistic people, not the other way around. It seems to me that the rift arises from advocates having similar temperaments, but different base values.

Terminology Note: The term "neurodiversity" refers to the collective various wirings of human brains, which includes neurotypical brains. The term "neurodivergent" refers to individual and/or collective differences in one's neurology from what is considered normal neurology.

Kmarie said...

ha ha....I get those terms mixed up allllll the my numbers in discalculia~ I changed a couple...and I agree with the band analogy too:)