Saturday, November 3, 2012

Upon Tomorrow

Kai writes Upon Tomorrow on The Next Ten Words

I am a triad of impairments.
My early years were happy ones as there was so much joy to be found and experienced in the quiet of life. Moments were captured and as the film developed, I learnt to interpret the world through my senses. I could happily spend hours absorbing the frames of life, searching out patterns and being sure to feel every detail. Ever longing for information, I would seek out more and more until I exceeded an ever changing threshold and would end up sobbing and exhausted in my mother’s arms.
What a marvelous life. How lucky are we who get to experience this?
But I was not considered to be the lucky one. I didn’t understand that others were not sharing the same experience as me. It seemed silly to say out loud the things which I found so obvious. Why look someone in the eye when there were many more things to look at which resulted in me feeling considerably less ill?
I did not think to join in the games of others. As I grew older, I have vague memories of being herded towards different groups of children and told to “play” with them, that they were my “friends.” If only the memories of the merciless teasing or being drawn into talking about my interests only to be mocked about them later were the vague ones.
It’s lucky that I was smart. I soon learnt that I could make alienation happen on my terms. Life becomes much more calmer when you can control the hate that is directed at you.
High school revealed that I was more than just introverted. I had a brain that would latch on to an interest and treasure it to an extent that I still do not have the words to describe. In fact sometimes there are no words to describe a concept and only a flap of the hands will suffice. The rule based dance that sent words back and forth between people alluded me. I found the conversation of others to be a thing of wonder.
I now realised that I was not as they.
Later I would read that there were words for people who demonstrated traits such as mine.
I displayed a qualitative impairment in social interaction.
I displayed a qualitative impairment in communication.
I displayed restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour, interests and activities.
I was Autistic. I am Autistic.
This is okay.
It is true that I often have to try significantly harder to complete tasks or engage in activities that others can do subconsciously.  There are some opportunities that will not be open to me.  This does not mean that I am less likely to be happy than those who fall within the norm.
Knowing that there were people on my side helped greatly. Understanding and accepting family, friends and professionals can make a world of difference to those on the spectrum who at times can feel so alone. I now strive to be that someone.
The word that encompasses the triad of impairments fits me well.
I am not ashamed to be Autistic.
I am not ashamed to be me.

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