Monday, November 18, 2013

What autism really is.

So Suzanne Wright from Autism$peaks sent out more of the same hatemongering that was tired before her grandson was even born, about how autism is terrible because the faaaaaaaaaaaamilies and we might eat food from the fridge or something and that's the worst thing ever.

That is not what autism is.

This is autism:

one very fair skinned female presenting person with light brown hair & a pink hoodie and a pink and purple haired fair skinned person with glasses, an orange shirt, and a white shoulder riding cat

Autism is friendship, the kind you can only have when you meet someone who is like you. Allistic people don't so much understand what that is, because they expect that most people are on their wavelength. But Autistic people know how special that is, because it is rare and it is precious. Someone who understands intuitively, who speaks your language, is worth their weight in something way more valuable than gold.

And autism is community that comes together. There's this idea that we can't do that, but that idea is wrong. Never have I ever seen another community that takes care of its own so much. We have our issues, as all communities do, but we also have fierce loyalty and ferociously fight for and care for our own. We know what it is to not have that. Again, we know how beautiful that is once we find it.

Autism is adventure. Or craving it at least. Jumping into that freezing cold water because it was there. And then jumping in again and again because it was freezing but it was a delight every single time. It may not be the normal thing to do, but it was better than normal. It was exhilarating.

Jumping into that water? I felt more alive than I think most people ever do. It was just me, the air, then the water. The sensation of my stomach rising? Stopped time until the water woke me up. It was actual perfection in an experience.

black and white photo of a dark haired fair skinned person doing a leap. their back foot is up by their head and their front knee is bent at an acute angle

Autism is focus. This leap is called a double stag. My focus was right on the sole of my foot, visually speaking. Internally speaking it was only on what I was doing. There was no thought as traditionally described. There was me, music, the mat, and movement. That's it. I can do that. I cannot meditate in the usual sense, but I can become one with movement. Everything else goes away.

So it is when I am focusing on something that I love. The way I love? It is deep. Autism is deep love. People write it off as special interest or obsession, but even if it's not something I can excel at, I can excel at loving what I love, loving what I do, loving who I love. Autism is being able to be consumed by love and interest, it is giving 100% because it is an insult to the thing one loves to give any less. Autism is going big or going home.

Autism is finding myself and losing everything else while jumping, flipping, spinning. And this is the best thing ever.

dark haired fair skinned adult female presenting person and dark haired fairer skinned boy presenting person on a couch. they are smiling and the boy is pressing his forehead and shoulder into the adult

And now we are back to autism is love and community. Autism is also sharing. Autism is knowing people because of autism. My young friend, Leo of Squidalicious fame, shared with me. He shared his iPad and his stims and his love. And he and his family are just a few of the many people I care about deeply who I would not have met if there was no such thing as autism.

No one ever said that being Autistic is easy. But we do say that it's worth it. We're okay. We love and deserve to be loved.


willaful said...

Wonderful pictures! Thanks for sharing them.

Anonymous said...

My cat loves to jump up on my shoulders like that, too!

Great post, as always. :)

Chickenpig said...

You're a lot more than just o.k. You're fantastic! And brave. Just the thought of jumping off of a cliff into water like that scares the pants off of me! Thanks for sharing your pictures and your experiences with us :)

Unknown said...

This is lovely Kassiane. So much great stuff is being posted.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, and I especially liked your point about giving 100% to something you love.

However, I disagree with one of your statements in your post. "Allistic people don't so much understand what that is, because they expect that most people are on their wavelength." There are allistic people who can't assume that most people they meet are on their wavelength; there are allistic people who find it extremely difficult to meet someone on their wavelength. To be fair, most allistic people don't have that problem, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it doesn't happen.

Mitchell said...

Thanks for writing this and posting the wonderful pictures. Wish there was an offline Autistic community where I live.

Unknown said...

"Autism is going big or going home."
One of the best lines ever written.

NewtToad said...

I really like this post. Thanks. I'm very happy. I love being Autistic.

Unknown said...

I absolutely loved this entry!! well said kassiane and absolutely spot on. thank you for writing this

Unknown said...

and full of delight

Unknown said...

and full of delight said...

This is an especially great blog post. It deserves to become a meme for the autistic community.

Note: I self identify as autistic, and have an autistic 5 year old son.

Mark Swartz said...

Kassiane, you have written a beautiful paean to people on the Autism spectrum. How wonderfully you have stood up to the dreadful imagery being espoused by certain Autism groups.

Keep up the wonderful work!

Mark D Swartz
Author and columnist, working on debut novel

Kim Wombles said...

Linked to your post here. Beautiful rebuttal.