I saw a video that won the Autism Spectrum Art Award (I didn’t even know that existed!) called “How To Be Autistic”. The video was posted by a 27 year old girl named Charlotte Poe. The video is SPECTACULAR! In the video, Poe does a voiceover saying things like, “You will be told you are a troublemaker. That the thing you can’t put into words, yet that divorces you from everyone else is, responsible for the way other kids pick on you and you really must try harder to fit in.” I think there is truth to that. I was diagnosed at 7 years old and, up until recently, have tried to “fit in” with my peers. Unlike me, the creator of the video, Charlotte Poe, was 21 when she was diagnosed. Like me, Charlotte feels that being on the Spectrum is a very important part of her identity. HOWEVER, I am not going to let my Autism define me as a human being. During the article, Charlotte says, “It’s not something I can turn off. It’s everything that I am. Nobody will ever tell you what is wrong with you, just that you are wrong,”
That is all stuff I agree with, to an extent. HOWEVER there is one thing she says during the video that really hits home with me. She explains that “There are no how-to manuals on how to be autistic. And no one [who isn’t] can fully comprehend what it’s like to live in a world that is so completely not suited to [those who are].” BINGO! THANK YOU! I feel the EXACT…SAME…WAY! I personally feel that if you don’t have Autism, ya just don’t get it. And no one tells you how to act if you are Autistic. Sure, there are societal “norms” but there are no “Autistic norms”. And I know that Autism is a “Spectrum”…but nobody is exactly the same, Autistic or not.
So why is it that regular society has an agenda to abide by but Autistic people don’t? I think it is because “regular” society doesn’t know how to cope with Autism. They don’t know enough about it to tell people “You need to act this way.” My parents raised me and taught me right from wrong, sure, but I found out what to do and how to get into trouble through my own experiences. I had to feel guilt or get into trouble to find out, “Oops…maybe I shouldn’t have done that.” Not to say my parents didn’t do a good job raising me, but…you know, own experiences.
Anyway, going back to Charlotte…she gets it. I am torn between what is “better” or “worse” depending on how you look at it. As I said, I was diagnosed when I was 7. My girlfriend was diagnosed at 18. Charlotte was diagnosed at 21. I don’t know which I would prefer…being diagnosed earlier in life or later in life. I feel if you are diagnosed earlier, like I was…you might be scratching your head, going “OK…what the Hell does that mean?” BUT that gives you time, especially nowadays where you can Google everything and find anything and everything with the click of a button…it gives you time (in my case, so far 20 years) to realize what is “wrong” with you. Having said that, if you are diagnosed later in life (as an adult/teen and so on) everything, in my opinion, would kinda “click”, like “Oh ok! That makes perfect sense!” But it would give you less time to process it all. (I am basing this on a previous post I wrote about the average lifespan of a person on the Spectrum…36 years old.) So I can’t make up my mind which I would prefer.
I want to send my congratulations and thank you’s to Charlotte Poe for making a video that made a video that (1) won an award and (2) is so impactful. I think if we get enough publicity and awareness, it will get people talking. Whether that is a positive or a negative, well…that’s a debate for another day.
As always, thanks for reading and I await your comments!