So I gotta put this question out there. I did a Autism advocacy talk in Towson earlier today (And no…despite it being Pi Day, pie was not served. Damn…). Anyway, after my presentation, I had a Q&A session with the participants. This is the part of the job I love the most…answering question posed by neurotypicals or “normal” everyday people. Or in this case, doctors and nurses in training. One question I got asked today was, “You seem to be aware of your disability as someone who is High Functioning on the Spectrum. Do other people i.e. lower functioning individuals on the Spectrum realize they have Autism as well?”.
OK. Look. Here is the Honest-to-Christ answer about this. I AM NOT AN AUTISM EXPERT! Nor am I pretending to be. I can’t answer that question. I cannot speak for my friends and other people I know who “suffer” from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I have no Earthly idea whether they can realize or comprehend that there is something “off” about them. I think they see the world, through their eyes, as their world.
As for me? I understand my plight, if you wanna call it that, of having Autism and how it impacts me. I know I am a little “off” but honestly…who isn’t “off” to at least one other person? This is why I do not like the word “normal”. I know people on the Spectrum who can only communicate by screaming what other people might perceive as incomprehensible nonsense or gibberish. But, I think, to them, it is very clear what they are trying to say.
Again, I may be completely wrong or out of line by saying that, but that is my perception. I act the way I do for a reason. Whether all of that is pertaining to Autism is yet to be determined. I am a wacky, silly person around my friends, but when it comes to talking to professionals about Autism I am completely serious and all business…with the occasional witty comment thrown in.
So why the witty comments at work? It is my outlook on my diagnosis. I am not going to bitch and moan or seek sympathy or portray my having ASD as a sob story or something to be pitied. I can see the silver lining and upshots to my diagnosis. I am not the kind of person that sees Autism as a “Poor me” situation. To me, Autism is a sort of win-lose situation. Sometimes I feel like a loner and that nobody gets it…sometimes! That is why I thank God I have a job, an agency, and girlfriend who can sort of, kind of understand what I go through on a daily basis.
My mom is my biggest supporter. Hell, without her, I never would have gotten into my agency and been happier than I ever have been before. So mom…thank you!
I also thank God, weird as it sounds, that I do have Autism…that I am a little weird or off. Try to see my POV here. Without my diagnosis, I never would have gotten into public speaking and found my calling and passion, would not have gotten into my agency, found my girlfriend, gotten my job as a self-advocate and NEVER would have gotten the opportunity to talk about my life as a person on the Spectrum to a world-renowned newspaper. (The Washington Post). So thanks to that, I have an amazing life and have had an amazing journey…and who know what the future will hold?