Monday, October 24, 2011

What having Autism Means to Me

In this post, I am going to try to introduce a topic that delves deep into my autistic mind.

People with autism are different.  We should be viewed as a separate type of being from those who don't have autism and make up the majority of the population.  Let me elaborate on this point: there are certain rules and behaviors that are acceptable to society known as norms.  People with autism have our own social rules that are naturally acceptable to us.  From the onset of autism at a very young age, we are thrown into a world with norms that are not natural to us, and we are forced to learn those norms. 

Even with that knowledge, I find myself in situations where I unintentionally offend someone by not reading body language, or someone may unintentionally offend me by kidding with me in a way I take literally.   A world that is natural for those with autism would be a very different world than the one that exists now.

The acceptable social norms make it difficult for me to identify my reality because my reality contradicts many aspects of socially accepted behavior, or what people expect of other people.  Taking sarcasm literally, showing no visible signs of listening while really listening intently, facial expressions contradicting what is expected by a particular emotion (such as smiling when receiving shocking/sad information, which I tend to do a lot), not maintaining eye contact while speaking, etc.  I appear to be normal on the outside: a young man in his early twenties, slightly overweight, with nothing too extraordinary to behold.  What is within on the inside is so vast and different that most people will never see or understand...unless I write about it, which I have been doing for the past few months.

What I am trying to do here is to cross-section natural autistic behavior with conventional social norms.  I admit this is not an intuitive concept.  I could write about this my entire life and only scratch the surface of the topic.  That is what I am going to try to do in the future, apart from writing my fantasy series.  I will do the best I can because I believe this is important to understand in order to increase the efficiency of autism education and maybe, just maybe, reduce the symptoms of severe autism to those of mild autism.

I don't really believe in a cure for autism anymore.  The world needs people who think differently.  The great innovators like Einstein and Edison were thought to have had autism.  I believe that a "cure" for autism may eradicate those types of thinkers out of society.

This is not a topic I can relate through small talk at the supermarket.  This runs much deeper. This is my reality.

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