Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Autism: An Interview With Myself (Autstics Speaking Day Special)

Karin Mossberg has written Autism: An Interview With Myself (Autstics Speaking Day Special) on Beware the Aspie

What is Autism for you?
It's hard to say because there is no limits between what is Autism and what is me. It's a part of who I am but it's impossible to decide what part it is and how much difference it makes. All I know is that I wouldn't be the same person without it. Just like I wouldn't be the same person if I deleted some of my memories, persons from my past of my own character flaws. They all shaped me and made me who I am today.
In IRL social situations, do you want someone to tell people you are Autistic?
No, I did want that before but not anymore. It's not like I can't represent myself in a conversation. And if a social situation starts off like that it's easy that the new people I meet ignore me from the situation and just talk to my company because I'm "different". And that is totally unbearable! Instead, I want to speak for myself and make a good impression and if I get a question where talking about my Autism is appropriate, I do. I want people to see me as Karin, nothing else. But I won't keep my Autism a secret, that would be unhealthy. I just don't make it a 'thing'.
You are very positive about your Autism but is there anything you don't like about it?
Of course there is! Everybody has things in themselves that they don't like, me included. I have a whole load of things in myself I can start obsess about. One thing that's really hard for me right now is that I can kind of "see" myself from the outside and think "What the hell am I doing? I know better than this". On later years, I have realized that I often get the feeling I'm watching myself from outside, with distance from the situation. Then it's very easy to start criticizing yourself and this can be really tough with time. Especially if you (like me) have pretty bad impulse control. But I try to accept this problem in myself, if I changed it I wouldn't be me anymore. I just wish I had better methods to cope.
You are a very variated person, have you ever thought about that you might have multiple-personality disorder?
Well, I have heard that I'm like "many different people at the same time" but I don't think the cause is a personality disorder. I am just generally very interested in the world around me and try to have an open taste and not lock myself into a certain "style". Even trough I can be very, very different in different situations, I'm always me. I just really like exploring new things and finding new ways to express myself.
In your past, you have been very much against the "fitting in" concept. How do you feel about that today?

I think it's all about finding places and people who you actually can fit in with. Nobody fits in everywhere! Some situations are better for an individual than others. When I walk around on the streets in the town I live in I feel like a complete freak. I think about my Autism all the time because my town can't stop reminding me. But I was to a town recently where I wasn't a freak at all. I could walk around, sit in the park, go shopping for clothes, eat at restuarants and all those things I ususally don't do, without feeling like a freak for one single second. I really did "fit in". I won't move there because then I'll move away from some really good friends and activities I have here but I'll make it a tradition to go there when I want to do all those things. When I'm at friends I might want to talk about that too. I have many friends, some of them are very close and some of them are more networking contacts. I share everything with my closest friends. I can laugh my ass off, cry oceans, get severe nervous breakdowns, bitch about some cyberbully, discuss deep thoughts, discuss music or just plainly exchange some nonsense with them. They will still love me after all this. I trust them 100% and that can be completely magical. But when I talk to my network contacts I of course refrain from saying things that's too personal or might cause offense. I want to make a good impression and be helpful. I hold back on things that's not appropiate to discuss. But I don't think that means I'm less myself or that I sacrifice my individuality just to have success. I just don't do weird things for the sake of doing it. How many people have you heard talking about their menstrual pains at a job interview? Not many I guess. They held that back to make a good impression. That's what I do too. Sometimes I fit in naturally, sometimes I have to work for it.
I can imagine that it must be very hard to have people telling you how you work all the time. How do you cope with it?
Of course it's hard and I think that the only thing I can do is speaking up for myself. Letting my voice be heard. Nobody knows how I work better than I do (except possibly one of my closest friends) and it's extremely painful to hear so-called experts saying that I lack empathy or that I'm uncreative because I'm really trying my best to be both empathic and creative. And it's even harder to know that whatever I say and however I say it, they will always see me as inferior. I can come there in my powersuit and tell them off like a real powerwoman, but it won't work. Because I'm still just an "Autistic kid having a temper tantrum". Instead, I have to write on here and be informative and hope to change someone's view on me or Autistics in general. And I'm really grateful that I have had the opportunity to reach out to people and change things for them. That really warms my heart.
*Please note that this is NOT an attack to the people working with Autistic children/adults. I know that some of you are completely wonderful. I was just talking about those who are not.
When you started working with "Beware The Aspie" you wrote very differently compared to how you do today. What do you think casued that?
I have evolved so, extremely much the last years. I have gotten out of a very hurtful situation and recovered from a severe mental illness, I have met new people that changed my whole view at the world and I learned more about the sibjects I write about. All these things helped me to be less biased in how I write. Meeting Lottie was a big change. I have been raised hearing that right-side politicians and police officers are evil and dangerous. I had to fight my taught prejudice when I met her. My fear for police officers turned into strong fascination (I think I have always been fascinated really, I just never gave any place for those emoions) and my hate for right siders turned into cautious acceptance. I learned that just because people are from a different group it doesn't mean they are bad for me. We are all individuals and I love my Lottie dearly. I also met a very, very special friend. She also taught me SOOO MANY THINGS. But those are more personal so I won't list them. But one thing she made me realize I can write about here is that IRL neurotypicals that listen to popular music can be the most interesting, funny, supportive and inspiring people in the world!
Last question, if you could describe yourself in one word (you can't say Karin), what would it be?

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