Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thoughts of the Neurodivergent Twin

Trebled Galaxies presents Thoughts of the Neurodivergent Twin

Trigger Warnings for functioning labels

"I don't want to play with her! She's a nerdy weirdo!" This phrase was not uncommon in my childhood, or now. I'm fifteen years old, and I remember this phrase as going back to my days in preschool. I remember knowing that I was different than others by the time I could put together full sentences. The problem was that nobody acknowledged my struggles for what they were: my disabilities.

A majority of the world views people on the Autistic Spectrum in two groups: high-functioning savants, and low-functioning pity cases. Many people also believe that Aspergers Syndrome is either a group of socially awkward nerds, intellectuals who care naught for others' wellbeing and emotions, or the next stage of evolution. These are, sadly, very common misconceptions. The Autistic Spectrum is aptly named, as it is a spectrum, not two boxes that you can organize autistic people into. Aspergers is an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), categorized as being very similar to conventional autism(now considered low-functioning), except that a person with Aspergers often has normal or above average linguistic skills. Autistic people DO, in fact, feel emotions, we just express them differently. I know that I'm terrible at social skills, but I have feelings. "Aspies" have feelings, "low-functioning" autistics have feelings, and nonverbal autistics have feelings. When an autistic person will not display affection that falls under neurotypical standards, they often show it their own way. Communication varies as much as disorder does, from person to person, as it permeates our brains, making it as much a part of us as any other part of our personality.

This brings me to my next point. Please, please stop supporting Autism Speaks. I have never been directly involved with them, and from reading the experiences of others, I'm glad that I haven't. I'm not going to go into details here, but search for blogs or articles by autistic people that discuss them, as they know much more on the subject than I.

Back to the highly abridged version of my life. For most of the rest of this non-fictional narrative to make sense, you need to know that I have a neurotypical, fraternal, twin sister, who will be referred to as Sunny for this article. From an early age, I noticed that my instinctive behavior did not align with the external behavior of my peers. After learning this and getting picked on multiple times at parks, I copied Sunny in anything social. I was a very insecure as a child, and clung to my sister like a drowning man would cling to driftwood at sea. This worked well for a while, but Sunny craved independence. When we were 8, she told to stop trying to be exactly like her. We were very different. I liked reading, drawing, and singing, whereas she liked group activities, sports, and dolls. After that, we slowly revealed our individual personalities, except that I retained the faked social skills that I had made by imitating Sunny.

For years, due to the fact that I am intelligent and can fake some rudimentary social skills, two different psychologists dismissed my family's suspicions. My current psychologist, however, recently diagnosed me with high-functioning autism(Aspergers Syndrome) do to social awkwardness, sensory processing issues, and strange obsession of items that interest with a disregard for subjects that don't. I think he recognized it sooner, as he works with more autistic people than my old psychologists.

Furthermore, I would like to leave you all with a closing message. Autistic people are still people. Yes, we're different, but the world would be so boring if everyone was the same. Please treat autistic people with the same respect you give others.

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