Cor Meum – La Vita Nuova

 

 

Lecter at the Opera

Video

Different not less – Autism advocacy with civility

 

Different not less

This is the phrase coined by Dr. Temple Grandin’s mother.

  • Temple’s mother used this phrase as an affirmation to her daughter
  • A daughter that she loved and believed in
  • It was a source of regular, perhaps daily encouragement to Temple Grandin
  • Today it is an affirmation used by millions of people in the Autistic community, around the world

Sadly however, the true message of this phrase is being misinterpreted, distorted and hijacked by some!

Something rotten in the State of Denmark

A small minority of people seem to believe that in order to advance the cause of Autistic people, or at least their own personal agenda, it is necessary to berate, insult and even vilify the Neurotypical population.

I don’t see how this stance has any place in long term, strategic Autism Advocacy for several reasons.

Depending on your definition of neurodiversity, the Neurotypical community comprises at least 70% of our species

  • That’s approximately 5 billion people, which looks like this;
    • 5,000,000,000
  • Of these people, most are likely be living at or below the poverty line
    • and not just in the developing/third World!
  • Others may be struggling to make ends meet, maybe just one paycheck away from skid-row
  • Many will be living with physical challenges; severe handicaps in some cases
  • Others will be struggling with poor health, perhaps without the luxury of health insurance
  • Leaving out all of these ‘exempt’ groups, those who remain are likely to be living in another country
    • and will never come into contact with those who have chosen to be their adversaries!

 

For those verbally attacking the Neurotypical community, one has to wonder who exactly their attacks are directed at?

  • and what exactly are the ‘crimes’ of the INDIVIDUAL Neurotypical people that make up their target group?

Pouring scorn on and expressing hostility to the majority of our species just for being created neurologically different is:

  • At best ignorant, the result of mal-education, cultural prejudice etc
  • At worst, for those with the education and intelligence to know better, it is an intellectual crime against humanity!
  • It is an abomination

 

Different not less

This term is best know as a affirmation in the Autistic community and other Neurodiverse communities

  • But the Neurotypical community are also entitled to equal ownership of this term

Autism and Neurodiversity are very well represented in all creative fields

  • But we do not have a monopoly on talent and intellect as some radical elements sometimes seem to suggest
  • There is no shortage of Neurotypical geniuses
  • Neurotypical people have skills and talents that we lack and without which our World would be poorer

 

Declaration of friendship

My adolescent school years were a living hell.

  • You can read my account of some of that in this post I Exist

I grew up when Aspergers was still undiscovered.

But this is how I choose to reconcile my school years.

  • I do not blame my teachers or the school systems for failing me and being unable to hear me
  • I have forgiven my teachers for punishing me when I was unable to understand them
  • I have forgiven the school kids who tormented me and ostracized me
  • Statistically, most of these people would have been Neurotypicals
  • A fact which I see as purely incidental and therefore a completely groundless basis for holding any form of grudge

 

Neurotypical people deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect that the Autistic and wider Neurodiverse community asks and expects of the Neurotypical community.

Building bridges is much more likely to advance the cause of the Autistic community than throwing rocks at billions of unnamed people.

I am Autistic and if you are Neurotypical, I would like to celebrate and explore our common humanity.

  • You deserve the same respect and dignity that I do.
  • You and I are BOTH different, not less

My friends in the Autism social media community, share this vision.

 

Autism Advocacy

My main goal in Autism Advocacy, is to support the Autism community through my writing and networking.

  • To provide encouragement and hope to Autistic children, adults and those who care for them
  • Sharing some of my hard learned experiences, to perhaps offer them a glimmer of hope
  • Letting the Autistic community know that others have trod the same, lonely rocky path that they now tread
    • and survived
  • Sometimes perhaps helping to ease the despair of a mother who has just survived another IEP meeting
    • or is in the grips of an anxiety attack as she prepares for one!

 

I do not engage directly with those using social media as a platform to attack our Neurotypical brothers and sisters and nor will I.

  • I choose instead to support and encourage the Autism community and
  • To participate in building bridges with the Neurotypical community

 

Many parents of Autistic children are Neurotypical and are an integral and vital part of the Autism community

  • Some have made career changes into Special Education after the birth of an Autistic child
  • These Advocates possess a very special perspective
  • I call them Connectors
  • They bridge the Neurodiverse and Neurotypical Worlds
  • I am blessed that some of them are my friends

Some of the social media comments that are aimed at Neurotypical people are so offensive and relentless that I have unfollowed the authors!

  • But I would be happy to extend a hand of friendship to them and refollow, if they could beat their swords into plowshares
  • Because I want to build bridges with everyone

 

Epilogue

If you are part of the Autism community, I hope this post has given you a better understanding of my Advocacy goals and vision.

If you are one of our brothers and sisters in the Neurotypical community, I hope you are encouraged by this hand of friendship.

  • Mine is just one hand of friendship, there are so many more of us

 

Different, not less – one and all

 

Richard Dreyfuss articulating the essential qualities of civility

Aspergers unmasked

 

Masquerade

My posts to date have described my somewhat traumatic childhood.

They have also discussed my ongoing development of gratitude, my continuing journey towards full acceptance and my growing relationship with and love of poetry.

While my posts and tweets remain faithful to the truth, there is an important aspect of my life on which I have thus far remained silent.

My current daily walk/struggle with Aspergers.

The comfort of intellect

I have had a love of books from a very early age.

  • Initially Science and atlases.

I then developed a limited interest in literature, particularly books of intrigue.

  • I was reading Frederick Forsyth in 3rd grade.

Although I was intellectually hardwired for this kind of reading material, my obsession was clearly in part a response to my social isolation.

At school, withdrawing into the comfort and safety of my intellect and being a champion swimmer were my survival skills.

  • They reminded me that I existed!

But 30 years after graduating High school, intellect and exercise are still my security blankets.

  • They are what I have instead of ‘in real life’ friends because

Outside of my family, my friends are to be found exclusively in my social media networks and I am grateful beyond words for these friends.

  • Most of whom I have never met!

But I still cling, often quite desperately, to the intellectual rock that has always, in large part, defined me

But the fact is that despite all my love of linguistics, statements of gratitude and exaltation of Beauty I am a clinically disabled individual.

  • I am Autistic which places my social intuition abilities in the bottom percentile!
  • Against which, tragically, my top percentile IQ is often of little help!

Living with Aspergers

My life with Aspergers is quite different to my private intellectual life and my business life.

  • It is often also quite different to how I present myself here on social media

I find people, in real life, very confusing and experience them as jigsaw puzzles, with missing pieces and no puzzle picture.

I’d like to share with you what it feels like when I try to understand and participate in social communication.

Pick 2 Nursery rhymes, any 2 will do.

  • Now recite them alternately, from memory
  • Nursery rhyme 1, word 1 – followed by – Nursery rhyme 2 word 1
  • Nursery rhyme 1, word 2 – followed by – Nursery rhyme 2 word 2 etc
  • See how far you get!

That is pretty much how I feel most of the time when interacting ‘socially’ UNLESS there is a very strong intellectual element to the discussion.

  • It causes me considerable anxiety at a social gathering, having to adopt the persona of a Zoologist, knowing that everyone else is managing to interact socially in a way that requires no more effort than that needed to breathe!
  • So since discovering I have Aspergers, I now mostly avoid social gatherings
  • When I was still trying to ‘fit in’, I would ‘self medicate’ with alcohol; common behavior for many undiagnosed Autistic people
  • I would have just enough alcohol at the social gathering to numb my anxiety
  • Eventually I needed a few drinks at home, before going out and facing the horror of another ‘social’ evening!

I stopped drinking alcohol after I discovered I have Aspergers.

  • It seems that the Autistic mind is usually better off without alcohol
  • This is certainly true in my case and is something with which my Doctor concurs

I stopped drinking alcohol overnight, with no unpleasant effects.

  • By the Grace of God, I seem to have been blessed with an immunity to physical substance addiction
  • Or as one friend recently described it, we have undeveloped or missing addiction receptors 🙂

But the social anxiety remains and not just with ‘outsiders’

  • I can and do experience the same level of anxiety when misunderstandings occur with my wife or my children

Since being clinically assessed with Aspergers and ADHD I have been prescribed a number of different medications.

  • The Aspergers medications of course treat only the effect/symptoms, without treating the root cause

In consultation with my Doctor I am now relieved to be taking just the minimum number of medications, being

  • Antidepressants
  • Medication for acute anxiety – taken only when needed – but more often than I would like and more often than you might guess

Epilogue

Some of the kindest and most generous people in the social media Autism community, who appear to suffer the least, may suffer tremendously.

  • I have learned this first hand from those who have been open and brave enough to share with me
  • In the context of the Autism spectrum I am probably one of the luckier ones!
  • Those with Classical Autism and many, many with Aspergers suffer in ways that I cannot even begin to imagine

Please also remember that some of my most inspired tweets and blog posts may very well have been penned on a day that I was hanging on by a finger nail, in despair – even if I make no mention of it, which I usually won’t 🙂

Masquerade

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