Mama Be Good (@MamaBeGood): To “I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers”: #AutismPositivity2012

This post was originally published at http://mamabegood.blogspot.com/2012/04/mama-be-good-to-i-wish-i-didnt-have.html and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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Mama Be Good: To “I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers”: #AutismPositivity2012

Dear You:

A couple of weeks ago, you googled the phrase “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers.”  You must be feeling hurt.  Upset.  Frustrated.  Sad.  Alone.  Things happened that shouldn’t have.  Some things didn’t happen that should have.  You feel left out, on the outside, missing things.  People can be cruel.  Or, at best, ignorant.  They say unbelievable things to you or about you.  And what they know about autism?  Geez.  Could fill a spoon.  People form groups and then try to make themselves feel good by isolating others.  Or people blame you, your behaviors, your emotions.  They think you can change your brain.  Or they think you should be able to change your behavior, when your behavior is not the problem.  They just think it’s a problem and they made it your problem.  Or they think it’s all in your head and you just need to act different.

They’re wrong.

People are so uncomfortable with difference.  SO uncomfortable they will blame the people who are different.  They’ll get angry that they’re uncomfortable.  They’ll take it out on you.

You can ask anyone who’s “different.”  People of color – different because of their skin.  Their skin that they were born with, that doesn’t change their humanity, their intelligence, their wit, their drive, their individualism, their strengths, their personhood.  But some people, years ago, decided that skin color would stand for “less than.”   That it was different from their skin color, so it must be defective.

That made them feel superior.  It made them feel okay about taking people’s land, taking people’s lives, taking their culture and language away from them.  Taking people’s rights away, taking their decisions away, taking their property, their children.

You can ask women about being different.  That their only value is in how they look, as long as they look a certain way, not different.   That they get less pay for the same work because they are merely women.  That they will take a maternity leave at some point, or they could, so they aren’t worth a larger investment.  Just a business decision, after all.  That they should pay for their own mammograms to screen for breast cancer and not ask for it to be paid for by government because fifty percent of the other insureds don’t have breasts and shouldn’t be made to pay for yours.   That they will have to demand the right to make their own decisions, on health care, on marriage, on working, on having children because they are women and everyone knows women can’t think clearly or as well as men do.

Are you thinking this is all ancient history and doesn’t have anything to do with you?  You are the new “different.”  People will think that the brain you were born with changes your humanity, your intelligence, your wit, your drive, your individualism, your strengths, your personhood.  They will feel okay taking your rights away and your decisions.  You will have value as long as you behave a certain way, not different.  You will get less pay for the same work because you are autistic.  You will have a meltdown, or communication breakdown, or you could, so you aren’t worth a larger investment  Just a business decision, after all.  You will have to demand the right to make your own decisions, on health care, on marriage, on having children because you are autistic and everyone knows autistics can’t think clearly or as well as non-autistics.

And, yes, intolerance and ignorance will make you wish you didn’t have to deal with it.  I can understand that.  But all they say about differences?

They’re wrong.

Just like they were about people of color.  Just like they were about women.

You know, a big problem is that you hear a lot about how awful autism (what some call Aspergers) is.  You might have heard some parents, maybe your parents, medical professionals or teachers tell you that autism is responsible for the bad parts of your life, the bad parts of your body, the bad parts of your brain.

They’re wrong.

Yes, you have problems, problems that come with autism.  You know what they are.  You’ve been working with them your whole life.  I’m not telling you to ignore the problems or deny them.  I’m not telling you to sugarcoat them.  I’m not giving you a pep talk about “Yay, problems! They are merely challenges! Woot!” and everything in your life is automatically wonderful.

But here’s the thing.   Autism does not cause all your problems.  You are not the cause of all your problems.  Autism is not a catastrophe.  You are not a catastrophe.

Your brain is your brain.  Autism is part of your life.  But the bad situations? The troublesome relationships? The negative feelings?  The contact with toxic people?  Those things are temporary.  Those you can change.  Those are under your control.  That’s not sugarcoating.  That’s not all “positivity for positivity’s sake.”  That’s reality.  You can be autistic and be unhappy (most of the time).  Or you can be autistic and be happy (most of  the time).

You are connected to a long history of difference.  It will make you stronger.  You are connected to a large community.  It will make you confident.  You are connected to a wide group of allies.  It will make you powerful.

These connections will arm you with reasons to be proud, resilient, and optimistic about being autistic, not as empty self-affirmations, but as an accurate view of your life.  These connections will inform you of the richness of your life.  These connections will allow you to investigate your theory of your self and your world.  These connections will mean you can actively shape your life, to claim your own unique biology and individuality.

So that one day, you will tell all of us your story.  With pride.

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The Autism Positivity Flash Blog Event was created by a group of bloggers called Thinking About Perspectives after one of them got a blog hit from someone who googled “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers.”  The bloggers are:  30 Days of AutismOutrunning the StormThe Third Glance,Aspie KidFlappiness IsQuirky and LaughingLife on the SpectrumFairy Tale ForgottenThe Aspie Side of Life, and Inner Aspie.  Their page is https://autismpositivity.wordpress.com/

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