We Are Beautiful

If you recall recently, there was a post on Autisable that caused quite a stir amongst the Xanga community both in and out of the people who have Autism. It was deeply disheartening to read, as it painted the site and those with Autism in a truly negative, insensitive, and degrading light. The entry itself does not represent the community with Autism or those who run Autisable. After speaking at length to Autisable’s Lead Editor, Joel (Edlives), it was agreed that such a post will be used to educate future submissions as to what is NOT acceptable on Autisable. As much as I disagree keeping it up, I feel it will serve as a good example to others. And can be used to teach people more about Autism, as well as Asperger’s.

We are not “Autistics”. We are people. We have a disability but are not a disability. I know this has been said before on Autisable, but it is something that I’ve tried to deeply ingrain into my communications with the people around me. When I describe myself to others, I never, never say “I’m Autistic.”. I state, “I have Autism.”. Whenever I tell someone/hear someone say the former, I feel as if I’m dehumanizing myself/being dehumanized; I am allowing my disability to define who I am, rather than actually being who I am. I also ask that others please extend such a courtesy. It may vary from person to person, but I deeply dislike being coined as an “Aspie”, or “Autistic”, because they’re adjectives that don’t distinguish me as a person, but an issue.

Language is very important to many Autistics because it is where a lot of our issues come from. Autism is a social disorder and comes with varying levels of social impairment. One of the key impairments is the inability to understand social cues, verbal direction, or being able to communicate appropriately (societally) or effectively. Such is the case with Chibi, who wrote the aforementioned Autisable post.

After reading all of his/her comments, and the entry in question, it is clear that Chibi is indeed dealing with Asperger’s. The level of learning and understanding of the core issues he/she is trying to discuss is familiar to myself, as I deal with it on a daily basis. As much as I would like to say, “Yeah, you are a jerk”, and I have (regretfully), he/she is not. It is all a part of who he/she is, and it isn’t easy to cope with. But it isn’t an excuse to behave improperly, and continually. At the end of the day, those of us with Autism/Asperger’s are still people. We still have the ability to function, and we still have the ability to learn and adapt.
Are we slower at this? Yes. If you’ve followed my previous blog, or my current, or know me in person, or for that matter Chibi, or anyone on Autisable, you’ll understand how grueling and frustrating Autism/Asperger’s can be. Engaging those with Autism in debate or argument can be frustrating, and nerve-wracking. We’re very difficult to dissuade from our viewpoint, and not as likely to allow outside criticism to affect how we think or feel. We’re stubborn and determined to be right and seen as right. But this does not mean we actually are, nor is it an excuse to say and do whatever we wish.

I do not feel bad for Chibi, or myself. Do I still feel exploited? Yes. It was very exploitive, and it was very hurtful to not only myself but other members of all communities. The real issue is that the discussion was aimed improperly, and discussed improperly, rather than presented with respect and care given to the issues and points presented. It was not a discussion on actual mental illnesses or even Autism. Autisable is designed and serviced to discuss, educate, inform, and make people aware of what Autism is, does, and how we can all co-exist as peaceful, loving people.
Autism is frustrating. It’s debilitating, degrading, and in a lot of ways depressing to have. But it gives us the chance to grow stronger as people. I do dislike having Autism, but it’s trials have bettered me in ways I cannot fathom going through in any other way. I am a beautiful person because of how I have endured so much and come out so much stronger. You are all beautiful, for enduring so much and coming out so much stronger. We, as a community of like individuals, are all beautiful. Misunderstood, and beautiful. We have the power to bring education of our issue to many people through Autisable. We have a duty, a responsibility to ourselves and to others like us to try to portray ourselves positively.

Yes, we’ll make mistakes. But we should never, NEVER let ourselves become entrapped in the ideology that having Autism excuses us from responsibility, or having to learn from those mistakes.

Instead, let us use our issues to help others understand what we go through. We need to learn to identify our problem areas and know when to back off. We need to embrace the concept of “wrong”, and learn when to accept that we’re not always right. Most importantly, we should never bully one another because of our stubbornness.

We are all beautiful, and we are all in this together. Let’s never again use Autisable for purposes other than to help those with Autism, who know someone with Autism, and even extend that further. Let us learn about all mental illnesses, and try to help and educate those around us about them. After all, we’re all human, and we all deserve to be treated like a human.

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0 thoughts on “We Are Beautiful

  • June 18, 2010 at 1:54 pm
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    I respect your view, however I prefer to call myself “Autistic” not “a person with autism”. When I am talking with a person who I know prefers to be called “a person with autism”, I use that for them out of respect. It is up to each person.

    Also, I apologize if any of my posts have greatly offended people. I tend to be strongly opinionated, but honestly don’t intend to start fights. Debate, yes, fights, no. I think some people may be angry at me because that is the tone I got at one of my posts about vaccines; however my tone is angry too.

    But anyways, back to your point. I intend no disrespect when I say “autistic”, it’s just how I view myself.

    Reply
  • June 17, 2010 at 6:48 pm
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    Thank you for sharing this. I appreciate you showing the humanity and not excusing crude behavior. Thanks for taking a stand properly.

    <3, ~*Akarui Mitsukai*~

    Reply
  • June 13, 2010 at 10:42 am
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    It seems pretty obvious that the Autisible editors aren’t keeping that post up because it offers any sort of lesson. It’s being kept up because it has drawn attention to the site. If Autisible really stood for anything, that post would never have been approved in the first place.

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  • June 12, 2010 at 8:16 pm
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    Thank you for this.

    I have always introduced my son by his name. If the situation or explanation warrented I would add … he has autism.

    Reply
  • June 12, 2010 at 1:47 am
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    I hate the word Aspie. It says this person has abnormalities that make them totally different from all normal people and its ok to look at them differently (and maybe treat them differently) too. If Asperger’s is defined as functions in society but definitely has social issues then I am sure all of us could think of loads of people just like that. It is not only on the Autism spectrum, its on the normal spectrum too.  

    We have all given up saying ‘retard’, we say special needs, we don’t say cripple we say physically-challenged, we don’t say Mongol, we say person with Downs’ Syndrome. A person with Aspergers emphasises the person first and the disorder second.   

    I understand Dernhelm23’s feelings, we all like think we are special in some ways.  I think most people with Asperger’s though would dearly like to fit in socially and not mind at all being common and ordinary which could better be expressed as ‘normal’, does all the usual things.  IMO Asperger’s is misunderstanding societal cues (and never knowing why) than it is about being misunderstood. 

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  • June 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm
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    Personally I would rather be misunderstood and beautiful than be understood but common and ordinary. I for one am proud to be an Aspie!

    Reply
  • June 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm
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    Anyone with a disability is human. My brother has a disability that renders him completely dependent on someone else to care for him. I’ve had to endure hearing insult after insult about him but I thank God everyday that I have him in my life. His disability has really given me a deeper understanding of other people with disabilities and the fact that, they may be different but none-the-less, they are people.

    My son was diagnosed with Autism and one of the hardest things that my husband and I have had to discuss is how we plan to handle our baby being ridiculed for not knowing how to interact with people properly. We know that we can’t coop him up to try and keep him “safe”.

    This post has really given me a better understanding on how to handle the issue of ignorance. Thank you!

    Reply
  • June 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm
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    I don’t mind using terms like Autistic as an adjective or using the term “Aspie” as a descriptive noun for myself. It is sometimes much easier grammatically than trying to use the entire phrase, ‘a person with Aspergers’ or ‘a person with autism.’ Sometimes trying to make that distinction muddies up the sentence structure and the point is lost before it is made. I won’t say, “I am autism,” because I am not… but can say, “I am (somewhat) autistic” because I have many of the characteristics of someone who has autism. It is a matter of grammar, not a matter of a label with me. A blind person would not say, “I am blindness.” or “I am a person who has blindness.” They would simply say, “I am blind.” It is a descriptive word and it should stand on its own that if a PERSON is saying it, that obviously it is a PERSON one is dealing with.

    Another word that could easily be substituted… “I am sarcastic.” Which means, essentially, that I am a person who exhibits characteristics of sarcasm. So to say, “I am autistic,” would mean that I am a person who exhibits the qualities of autism. Just as Hellenistic Greeks exhibited the qualities of Hellenist Greece.

    I am a woman. That is a descriptive noun that should lead another person to believe that I am a human female… as opposed to a human male or a female of any other species. Ok, so to say I am an “Aspie” that means I am a person with Asperger’s. Personhood is (hopefully) implied in the term. I don’t go around saying, “I am a person who has femaleness.” or “I am a person who is female.” Isn’t Aspergers part of my nature? It is part of how I am wired, how I think, what makes me… me? It sets me apart from people who do not have Aspergers. However, it does not make me any less of a person or any less human. Having Aspergers influences my thinking as much as being a woman does. I am obviously physically different than a man… but what isn’t so obvious is that men and women THINK differently. So if that distinction is not offensive, then why should the distinction between thinking like an Aspie and thinking like everyone else be offensive?

    Men and women wish to be treated equally as people, right? However, it MUST be recognized that they have different strengths and weaknesses (generally speaking)… so what is so wrong with recognizing the differing strengths and weaknesses between Aspies and non-Aspies? We are all OBVIOUSLY human. Just as it is also obvious that some men share more feminine strengths and weaknesses… and some women share more masculine strengths and weaknesses… there are varying degrees of shared strengths and weaknesses between Aspies and everyone else. What might be extremely problematic for me, might be only a minor inconvenience for someone else… and vice versa.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. My point is that it should be obvious to all that regardless of how we label ourselves, or are labeled by others… we’re dealing with human beings, and that should be obvious if we’re all sitting here using computers to communicate rational thought.

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  • June 11, 2010 at 1:04 pm
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    In one of my college classes that focused on children with special needs, something that the professor spoke of again and again was always putting the child before the disorder.  Therefore rather than saying “The autistic boy, Jimmy,” one should say, “Jimmy, the autistic boy.”  

    However, after reading this post, I’m going to change my language again to “Jimmy, the boy who has autism.”  It makes perfect sense.

    Reply
  • June 11, 2010 at 12:40 pm
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    I think you also need to address the atheism = asperger’s because it ABSOLUTELY is not.  Not even close.  That’s a big insult as well.  And said authors need to be making apologies for being so ignorant.

    Reply

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