One of the reasons that I was given for the reluctance to diagnose autism in adults is a fear that the person being diagnosed would stop challenging themselves, effectively climbing into a box labelled “AUTISTIC”, pulling on the lid and giving up on life. I knew this was never a risk with me because I wanted a diagnosis specifically because I wasn’t ready to give up, I wanted to be able to say to people “Look, I’m trying, I’m trying really hard, and sometimes I’m failing, so just cut me a bit of slack.”.
I saw a few weeks ago that there was a programme coming on Channel 4 called “Undateables” and that amongst other people it featured an aspie guy. Just the name of the programme was enough to piss me off. I don’t care how nice Channel 4 think the programme was, it immediately reminded me of a comedy sketch (might be a Mitchell and Webb one?) called “The boy with an arse for a face”. The programme was never going to raise awareness, it was only ever going to be an excuse for people to have a laugh at people who are different. Just following the trending topic on twitter for a few minutes was enough to prove that I was right.
I spent a great deal of time thinking about this programme before it came on. When something gets lodged in my brain like that I tend to over think it and then when the thought escapes from my brain it inevitably comes out all messed up and garbled. This is precisely what happened when I tried to explain my thoughts on this programme to a friend who I’ll call Roy. Roy assured me that no programme was going to change her opinion of me. I think I made it sound like I thought she specifically was susceptible to being swayed, when in fact I was trying to explain that I was generally concerned that the programme would be a massive backwards step for awareness in general and would change perception of people with Asperger’s at a time when I was still in the process of telling people.
This week I had an interesting conversation about labels, specifically about my usage of the terms NT and aspie. My friend, lets call him Roy, enquired as to what NT meant. Having answered his question, Roy went on to challenge me as to why I used those terms, why did I use those labels. To him, I’m not an autistic person, I’m just me, he doesn’t treat me any differently post diagnosis to how he did before. This is true, me and Roy still talk the same now as when we first tweeted each other about a hypnodisc clone that appeared on The Gadget Show many episodes ago.
This conversation also got me to thinking. Differently wired means just that, we think, feel and communicate differently. When I use the terms aspie or NT it is only as a way of alluding to a group of people that I’m talking about. To differentiate between two groups of people. That doesn’t mean I think either group is better or worse, just that I acknowledge that they are different. I have never heard an autistic person talk about curing neurotypicalism, or using genetics to eliminate neurotypicals from the world, but this is the sort of language that autistic people often have to accept.
April 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day. I realise I’m very lucky to have people in my life who only see me as me and so I said thank you to them all on that day. I guess they don’t realise how valued they are because they all expressed surprise at me thanking them, suggesting that I had nothing to thank them for. Well, you’re all wrong, you rock!
Author’s note: Why the fuck couldn’t I have explained it this way to my friends? In my defense, use of metaphors that only mean something to the speaker is fairly common amongst aspies. Damn you brain! :) #TheGiftAndTheCurse