Thursday, November 1, 2012

R. Larkin Taylor-Parker posts Autistic Speaking on tumblr 

Last year, I published a manifesto.  The blog took off.  I was optimistic about the Internet as a launch pad for change.  It has been a fine, tumultuous year.  I protested, spoke, wrote, met interesting people, harassed Autism Speaks, hosted a small, autistic settee, and strongly implied an endorsement of a controversial transit referendum in the voice of The Arc of Georgia’s official Facebook page.  I toed the line of permissibility, opining on its value to the people we serve without explicitly saying how to vote.  I got tired, disillusioned, about online happenings.  I have been on Tumblr long enough to see arguments circle back on themselves, downright dangerous war metaphors, and one argument on what other segments of the disability community should call themselves.  In the face of the last, I turned off my computer.  A prolonged exposure would have been unnecessarily embittering.
These things changed.  My relationship to other autistics shifts with the vagaries of the endless flame war. Some aspects of my life have not.  My thoughts take the shape of beams and pillars, flying buttresses, heavy, structural forms.  I prefer extended tuba to human company.  I hear, see, feel, and smell more than others.  My world is sharp.  I stare blankly at sarcasm.  Eye contact feels foreign.  I avoid it unless it might be to my advantage.  Encounters with most online autistics feel foreign, too.  Meeting them in person is nicer.  I love the Internet as a platform for our community, but meatspace stays humane.  I still chafe at identity politics, unheimliche mores, people who think the end justifies the means.  A sense of duty, compassion, for suffering persons like me, that I hope and believe will be a people, draws me in.  I hate speaking as an autistic.  I look forward to being a special education lawyer and dispense with identity-as-expertise, a translator’s role.  I still approach unfamiliar allistic parents of autistic children like buildings with overactive fire alarms.
Their kids keep me trying to reach them.  When a boy outside the worst of the storm was frightened of Hurricane Sandy, I answered non-questions on Twitter.
When did he become aware of hurricanes?  Was it a bad one?  What does that category mean to him?  Expand it.  Consider explaining storm classification, etc.  Break it into subcategories, not all of which are life-threatening.
I did it less out of the proper sentiments than faith, inability to bear children’s pain, the shadow of a memory.  When I was a child, before I knew what we were, an older autistic helped me.  She died before I could thank her.  I am alive, independent, and planning a career that will allow me to be open about my neurology.  The audience and arena are not ideal, but the performance is necessary.  The welfare of many autistics, especially children, depends on it.  I will contribute as I can.  I was born autistic but choose to be a tuba player.  I know bass lines, adrenaline, low margins for error.  I built my life around the understanding that the show must go on.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Open discussion is encouraged, but posts judged to be bullying or using inappropriate languages may be deleted. Please exercise good judgment when commenting. Comments will be moderated.