By Mandy Klein
This year’s Autism Positivity Flashblog has changed dates to May, which gives autistic people a chance to recover from the April ‘Autism Awareness’ negativity. The theme is Acceptance, Love, and self-care.
There is so much unnecessary stigma surrounding autism. Some people/organizations call it a thief that steals your child, except that a child is born autistic and they grow up to be autistic adults. We are everywhere, whether diagnosed or not yet diagnosed. Many autism organizations only talk about and provide services to kids. Autism does not disappear at 18 years of age. Adults of all ages need services as well. We need support and acceptance at all ages and stages of our lives. Autistics of all ages exist. We may live with family, in group homes, on our own-who knew! (Sarcasm), or with partners or friends but we are out there. Some of us are in your workplace, recreational activities, and volunteer organizations.
Do you really know what autism ‘looks’ like? Is there a ‘look’. We are all so different and alike just as allistic people are different and alike. Different skills and interests. We are all human; different not less. Diversity is good and necessary.
Many of us are ‘out’ autistics and most of us don’t see autism as something horrible. There are some areas where we struggle more than allistic people but that just means we need more support in those areas. If we have loving supportive families especially as children, we can go far. We need full inclusion in society. Accepting us means including us and supporting us so we might be included. Some autistics may need a high level of support to be included while some need little support. Because most of us are not wealthy, we don’t get the level of support that we need. The government provides me with a very small amount of money with which I have to choose whether to use it for support or recreation. I choose the recreation which is my horseback riding because it is calming and good for my sensory needs. The money I get doesn’t cover the whole amount and there is definitely none left over for support in the community. It is a hard choice to make and one that I shouldn’t have to make. It is something though.
I guess my horseback riding is part of my self-care. It gets me out of the house and it is great for sensory input. I don’t practice as much self-care as I should. I constantly push myself. It is hard to take time for yourself when you have a family and pets. It is hard to ask for help and support when you know other people are busy and there is very little in government provided service. I have severe anxiety partly because of lack of support. Some of the things I try to do to help myself include trying to avoid certain circumstances that cause sensory overload and anxiety- things like talking on the phone and going out. I know I also need to ask for help more. I know there is someone out there somewhere who can help me when needed. I just have to trust that they will.
Would I trade in my autism if I had the chance? Definitely not! It makes me who I am. It is part of me. I would be a completely different person without it. Autism is neither good nor bad, it just is. It is a part of me as a human being, just as not being is autistic is part of allistic people as human beings.