AUTISM AND HOW TO HANDLE IT

Look, I don’t know how to “be” Autistic. I don’t know how to “handle” it. I doubt anyone who has ASD or even knows someone who has Autism knows how to cope or handle it. Everyone has their own strategies. My personal strategy? Just be. That’s it. Just be myself. I have no other solution. I do not know how my having Autism impacts others. I am still trying to figure out how it impacts me…and I am the one who has it! Nobody has all the answers. (Sorry Temple Grandin.) There are no “experts” on Autism. I know people who know a lot about Autism, but I feel unless you have Autism, you don’t understand it. I am a sort of spokesperson for Autism here in Baltimore. And don’t get me wrong…it’s a great feeling, but I think people are getting maybe the wrong idea about me. They look to me for answers to questions I do not have the answers to. I hate when people ask “Why do people with Autism do this/that/whatever?” Well I can tell you why in three little words. I…DON’T…KNOW! I am not an authority figure on Autism. I cannot tell people how to act or what to do with or about Autism. You need to stop assuming doctors or these so-called “experts” or self-advocates have all the answers. They don’t.  All self-advocates do…at least in my case…is tell their side of the story of how Autism impacts them. I don’t know how it impacts other self-advocates. How it impacts me is my version of Autism. How Autism impacts Allie is her version of Autism. And so on. People tell me all the time at the trainings I do that they know someone who has Autism. To that I say, “Good for you!” Go to them for answers, not me. If they are nonverbal, communicate some other way. Writing is a good outlet to communicate with lower functioning people. I write to express myself, but I am higher functioning and can adequately communicate. Others may not have that luxury, if you want to call it that. Even writing things like “How are you?” and “What is your name?” is effective. I have seen this firsthand. So how to “cope” with Autism is fielder’s choice. Again, I can’t tell you how to approach what to do about your diagnosis or anyone else’s. I feel some people look at Autism as a death sentence for them and their families. This, at least for me, is simply not true. Yes, there will be hardships, but would you rather see your friend/relative dead as opposed to learning how to deal with an Autism diagnosis? I hope my kids, when I have them, understand my diagnosis and we can be there for each other. Part of me kind of even wishes my kids get diagnosed with Autism. Now before you attack me in the comments section, let me explain. I want them to be about on the same level as me. BUT if they are lower functioning, so be it. I would, of course, love them the same, if not more so, than any other parent loves their kids. I think I would be a little more protective, but I would not be a helicopter parent. I would be there for support, but I am not going to tell my kids or anyone else how to live their lives. I think that’s a misconception people get. Is when I, or another self-advocate tells their story, people assume theirs is the final answer. Not true. We do not. I am sort of a “self-made” self-advocate. I am so successful, if I can say that without sounding self-centered, because I am outspoken about my diagnosis. I encourage others to do the same. Go out there and advocate! It’s a great thing to do and if you fall on your ass, at least you tried. So that’s it for this prompt. I wanna hear your thoughts on this. As always, feel free to write in and thanks!

-Tom

Author: AuTom Spectrum Blog

I have Autism and am a self-advocate and public speaker. On the side I do stand-up comedy. I live in Baltimore County and have an AMAZING girlfriend

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