OK. I have to put this out there. Obviously everyone sees the world differently than the next person. I have this notion that people on the Spectrum see the world even more differently. Here is how I, Tom Whalen, Autism self-advocate see the world. I see the world as a totally bizarre, twisted, messed up, occasionally biased and unfair place. DON’T GET ME WRONG! I am not bashing mankind by any means. I am just saying that, to me, the world can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming. I am human. I have off-days. I have days, like everyone else I know, where I just feel like complete shit. “Why me?” “Poor me.” But those days are become less and less frequent. I have days where I feel my family does not understand me. Hell, I feel like that almost on a daily basis. My parents and I have a tendency to kind of get under each others’ skin. I act the way I do for a reason, and I feel nobody can actually understand my Autism. Except for me. My mom is a huge advocate for me and is very supportive of me and my being outspoken and advocating for myself. But I think she feels that I occasionally need help. Yes and no. Normally I don’t like when people advocate on someone else’s behalf. To me, that is almost like talking about them behind their backs but in a positive way.
Now having said that, am I saying that I don’t need any help ever? No. Again…I am human. I need assistance from time to time. Hell, if it wasn’t for my mom, I never would have gotten into Itineris and gotten my Pathfinders job. So thank you mom for helping me there.
NOW…I am a damn good self-advocate and can relate to people who are like-minded. I try to see the good in everyone and in everything. It doesn’t always work, but at least I can say I try. During the Washington Post article, I said that I am speaking about one person and one person only: ME! I don’t want people to get the wrong impression that I am speaking for the entire Autism community. However, that very thing happened last weekend at a fundraiser. My friend’s mom approached me and said, “Great article Tom! I really appreciate you advocating for the Autism community!” I’m thinking, “Shit! This is my nightmare!” But I thanked my friend’s mom and said, “That was not my intent but thank you.”
So to me, the world is…unusual. I look at things in a different way than most “normal” people. Me and “normal” DO NOT MIX! I don’t do normal. I do me. (That came out wrong…) What I mean is that I act like myself. How I act is my version of regular. It is my “normal”. If people can’t accept me for who I am and what I am and what I have…I am sorry, but YOU are the “retard” NOT ME! Sorry for the harsh language.
To me, the world goes by in clips and points in time…like a slideshow. I live day-to-day and have those “Remember when…” moments. I feel everyday society, i.e. people who aren’t on the Spectrum, see the world and maybe life in general, as kinda like a giant long, movie. The world goes by so fast, things sort of seamlessly meld and blend together. For me, it’s random.
Fittingly enough, to me, the world is like a giant puzzle. Why is that fitting? The symbol for Autism is a puzzle piece. All the pieces eventually fit together, but it can take a long time to put it all together. And sometimes it falls apart and I have to put it all together again. I feel my relationship with Allie is a puzzle, as well. Why? Well because we fit together and God is the puzzle glue. And I still do not get how Autism impacts her. Or any of my friends. Hell, I don’t even fully understand how Autism impacts me…AND I AM THE ONE LIVING IT!
If anyone can relate, or even if you want to debate this logic, comment or email me at email@example.com. I await your comments and an open to discussing this with anyone who wants to.