This blog relates what I wrote as a private FB post for those of my friends who didn’t already know about my possible diagnosis, and for those kind people who I could be friends with….
Hello All =D
I have created this private group for people I consider to be friends and those who have been kind to me.
I have recently been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, and want this to be a space where I can tell people I like about this.
For some this may come as a surprise, for others you may be sceptical, for others still you may think ‘well obviously’.
I am very happy about this diagnosis, this label. The fact is I am autistic, I am a female autistic, and I am me. This diagnosis has meant that I understand myself that bit more:
I understand why it’s always been difficult for me to make friends (and you lovely people are the good ones who persevered, probably for months).
I want this to be a space where my friends can ask the questions that might typically come across as offensive if they did not come from people I like =)….
Like: “But you don’t LOOK autistic!” – Yes, I do. Because I think perhaps when people say this, what they mean is “you don’t BEHAVE like you’re autistic”.
The fact is, autism is about behaviour, and more specifically social behaviour and interactions with others, and it is a spectrum – no two autistics are alike! Largely, people imagine the stereotype they see in the media – Rain Man has a lot to answer for! Autism is in the brain…this is NOT to say that my brain is ill, disordered, or broken, although many would have you believe this, including some clinicians (but not all).
“It’s OK, we’re all a little autistic and on the spectrum” – No, we’re not, and don’t think that by saying this you are making me feel better (I don’t need to feel better, already awesome remember?), all this does is diminish and invalidate my experiences, which are qualitatively different to non-autistics.
“But you’re empathetic?!” – Yes, and so are many male autistics. Autism is not about lacking emotional empathy (the ability to feel, and feel what others feel) – it is more about difficulty in processing or understanding COGNITIVE empathy (imagining, or understanding another’s thinking process, reasons for their actions etc.).
“Vaccines cause autism – shame you were vaccinated” – Autism is a developmental ‘condition’, but what I want you to take away with you is the knowledge that autism (and many a mental ‘illness/disorder/condition’) is about neuro-diversity – the diversity of the human mind. Human brains are diverse, and are as such for evolutionary reasons – for variation. Nothing CAUSED me to be autistic, it’s just the way my DNA arranged my neural connections (so no, autism is irrefutably NOT linked to vaccines).
“I thought only boys were autistic?” – This has been the prevailing theory, but there are more likely as many female autistics as there are males, it just expresses differently in women….for an unofficial checklist of female autistic experiences you can read the linked blog.
“Shouldn’t you call yourself a person with autism?” – Autistic vs. person with autism: Now I have had discussions and read up on this, especially as I advocate person-first language when discussing e.g. schizophrenia. I came to the conclusion that I AM autistic. I am happy to be so, it is not something that comes and goes, it is a large part of what makes me, me. Is there some of my behaviour that is distinctly not-autistic, and some that is? How on Earth can I differentiate, if at all? So no, I am not able to remove autism, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to – would I be me if I could? Would I be able to do the research that I do if I were not autistic? Possibly, but probably not.
Lastly: I want you to be able to say you know at least ONE female autistic. Talk about me. She is an individual, and she has some difficulties due to societal expectations of normality, but she is also x,y,z (fill in with your own lovely things about moi =D).
Ask me questions, on here, in messenger, in person….knowledge and positive contact with someone from an outgroup improves everybody’s lives (“There she goes, had to make it about psychology and her research!” – well DUH!
– I’m so funny!).