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.