I recently presented to a room full of people on the topic of Autistic People and Literacy. A few days later I again presented to another group of people on another autism related topic. It doesn’t matter the autism topic or whether the group I am presenting to be educators, therapists, or parents of children with autism – I am almost always approached by someone wanting to know how it is that I do not look or act anything like the autistic children they know.
You on your NT sidewalk square
Me, on my autistic one.
You jump to my square to help me out
(and so does everyone else)
That I need all the help you can give.
You teach me to copy your ways.
I learn to do so.
I jump to your square and copy you.
Autistics in my generation grew up during an era where not much was known about autism. Some of us grew up in institutions. Many of us learned that it was in our own best interest to hide our differences. This was a time before anyone even knew the label for those differences was autism.
“As a child I eventually came to love being outdoors, but I didn’t always love it. In fact, I can recall the bright boldness of the sun being painful and of trying to duck away from it. By the time I was walking I knew this brightness was called the sun. Mostly I liked the sun sparkles, but some days I protested because the sun was so bright as to turn its sparkles into painful burning to my eyes. I became quite aware of which direction the pain from the bright sun came from at various times during the day (Right Sun and Left Sun). As a toddler I was tracking the sun and its amount of brightness so as to avoid the sensory impact of being hurt by this fireball as much as possible.
As an autistic my connections to other people are perceived visually. In fact, I often need to have a concrete visual available in order to be able to think about my friends. A challenge I am often faced with is the erroneous presumption and resulting behavior of neuro-majority people when I need a visual in order to maintain a relationship.