Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oh! You have autism?!

Many people, some of them professionals who work with autistic people on a regular basis, have failed to recognize that I have autism until I either tell them, or in the case of the professional, they referred to my documents which listed the treatments I have received. When some people hear that I do indeed have the condition I have been told, with strong conviction, that there is nothing wrong with me.

I am going to explore a less finite topic into some of my feelings as to how people, even some who are familiar with autism, see the condition. To start off, I think that autistic people give off sort of an "aura," that, however faint it might be, can be perceived by others.  This aura is caused by the whatever neurological irregularities that make up a person's autism.  It may be obvious in those on the more severe side of the spectrum, or it can be much harder to see with more mild forms of the condition.  I am going to take a moment to define the term aura: "The distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing, or place."

Those with high functioning autism can imitate acceptable social behaviors, but it does not seem completely natural.  Those who don't understand what autism is may not recognize that aura for what it is, even though they can still perceive it.  Someone might think the following about a person with high functioning autism (such as myself): "oh, he seems alright enough, but there is something about him..."

I have been working at my job at a local retail outlet for nearly five years, and all the time customers ask me whether I am new at this job.  I had a man ask me a question about the toy section this morning and before I could really answer he said "you're new here, right?"  This September, I would have been at this store for five years and I have experience in many different areas of the store ranging from cashier, to stocking merchandise, to receiving.  This got me thinking that my own autistic aura is mistaken most frequently for inexperience.  People with little exposure to autism, or even some that do, fail to recognize this aura for what it really is.

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