April is Autism Awareness Month. I did plan to post something on World Autism Awareness Day, which is April 2nd, but the only autism post I had wasn’t quite right. It might appear some time in the future – it’s about special interests. Anyway, I want to write something about autism this month but to do it in my own way. There are plenty of autistic bloggers out there. They cover the Actually Autistic perspective well. When I write about autism, I always feel it is a diversion from what I like to write about, visiting places and what I see along the way. Writing about autism, particularly its drawbacks, is hard and doesn’t feel quite natural. I haven’t known any other life than the one I’ve lived. To write about what it’s like being autistic needs a certain amount of looking from an outsider’s perspective and indeed one of the characteristics of being on the spectrum is not being able to see things from another’s point of view. I can to some extent but only so far.
What I am getting round to is that being autistic can be hellish. But it is who I am. It gives me the problems with eye contact as well as the words that make other folk laugh when I say them or think when I write them. It makes me good for helping fill out forms or sort out dissertations but less good at speaking up when I have a problem. I hear too much and I have to focus extra hard. Sometimes I fall into bed exhausted from my day being all social. If I could change it, though, I wouldn’t. I would be a different person and that wouldn’t be right. I am me, autism and all.
This blog has been one hell of an undertaking. It is a blessed relief and a beast that needs fed regularly to keep it sweet. It is written by an autistic person but not necessarily fuelled by autism. I write out of more than my condition. I write because it is how I best express myself. It is loosening my shoulders as I write. Writing releases the thoughts and tensions of the day and the life I’ve lived and it is, some of the time at least, an absolute joy. What appears here is an insight into my world, how I see and how I think. Autism is a part of who I am. But I am also what I write about here. I find fulfillment in writing but also in walking the world, visiting castles and watching the mighty Hibernian FC in action.
The strapline of World Autism Awareness Week this year was:
‘Until everyone understands’
Until everyone understands. I’m not sure I agree with this. Understanding is one thing, accepting is quite another. I don’t entirely understand neurotypical people. That doesn’t mean I necessarily want to or have to. But I accept them without question. I have to. I quite like neurotypical people, well, some of them. They form the majority of the population, after all. Some of them are funny, thoughtful, interesting. Some of them might even be sexy. Or not, as the case may be. Understanding and acceptance comes when you least expect or realise it. It takes time. Autism is hard to write about because I live with it every day. It doesn’t go away when the whole world feels like it is smiling nor when it’s falling around my ears. It’s why if I have something interesting to write about autism then I’ll share it whenever I feel like it, not waiting for a particular month to come around. Awareness is good, though, and I hope it continues into May and June and all the way back around to next year and the year after. Then it builds into understanding and acceptance then maybe even love, which we all need most of all.