Thursday, November 1, 2012

Autistics Communicating Day

Autistics Communicating Day written by N M Silber on extemporarysanity

Once upon a time a NT person decided that it would be really awesome to draw attention to autism by having everyone shut down their computers for a day.  You know, computers, the tools that many Autistic people use to communicate and socialize.  I must confess that the reasoning behind this strategy eludes me.  But then I have also never understood why, if folks want everyone to be “aware” of autism, they spend so much time trying to train kids not to act Autistic.  I probably just don’t get it because my brain is too damaged to comprehend this type of thinking.  Either that, or it’s just because it’s, you know, illogical.
Luckily, some Autistic folks recognized that taking away peoples’ computers demonstrated a lack of empathy and a failure to understand other peoples’ perspectives.  Instead, they suggested that on this same day Autistic people all around the world should go online and let everyone “hear” us.  That way people can become very “aware” of all kinds of things, like the fact that we are human beings and we have feelings and opinions. And the fact that computers give us access to the world and to one another which is very very important.
This year I made many new friends online.  Some are NT and some are Autistic.  I value them all, but the Autistic friends have helped me in a way that no one else could have.  They helped me to realize that despite what I may have been told by some, I am not some weird, crazy, stupid person because I am different.  I learned for the first time that there are other people who sometimes can’t speak even though they usually can.  (Thanks Paula and Ibby.) I learned that other people were treated badly in school when teachers did not understand that behavior is communication. (Thank you Julia.) I learned that other people have sat in their dorm rooms unable to do what they knew they needed to do. (Thanks Lydia.) I learned that others have known the feeling of being underestimated and have risen above it. (Thank you Amy.) I learned that others survived bullying – thank you everyone who I know on the spectrum.
Getting to know other Autistic adults has been one of the most important things that has ever happened to me. I feel like I have found my tribe.  I always knew that the Mothership would come back for me one day.  Thanks to these relationships, I have and those with my NT friends, who truly are allies in every sense of the word, I have grown a lot.  I even  became so comfortable with who I am that I was able to overcome years of being forced not to act Autistic in public.  One night when I got overwhelmed I flapped.  In front of people.  First my fingers, then one hand, then both hands, fluttering in a beautiful symphony of self-regulation!  I felt like screaming I’m the king of the world!  But, that might have going a little too far so, you know, I didn’t actually do that. Yes, this was a good year thanks to all my friends in Autismland and to the computers that they wanted us to turn off.

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