Right, so a disclaimer: I know I missed the boat, Autism Awareness Week is over. But I’ve been extremely busy and am only getting chance to update now. So here we go: a view of Autism from a person who knows first-hand what exactly it means.
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 7 years old. Well that’s when I was DIAGNOSED anyway. My actual condition was clear from a young age though. My physical limitations (poor balance, lack of running speed, being heavier than average) were offset by my mental strengths.
I remember Primary school being a real toughie. By the time we were learning to count to 10, I was able to count to 100 and back again, due to watching Countdown and Ready Steady Cook.
My mental age was way above what you’d expect. My reading age was double my physical age by 7 years. My vocabulary was something you would never expect from somebody so young.
But that didn’t matter. People don’t like “different”. They stick to like groups, shun those who are unable to conform or refuse to do so. I was not in one of these cliques, and that was because of my condition.
As someone with Autism, I was never one to particulary socialise. My interests were very different to those of others, with them being related to certain themes which changed occasionally (something which stays with me to this day).
I used to see my condition as a curse. A damned curse which was ruining my life. I saw it that way all the time until I got to college. Then I learned that people can accept you for who you really are, they can accept your limitations and embrace them.
Now I am 21 years old, and things have changed. I no longer see Autism as a curse blighting my life. I see it as a gift, a tremendous honour which I will happily embrace. Because what it taketh away from me, it also giveth in great regard.
My creativity is not physical, it cannot be embraced within a mere canvas, nor is it expressed on a field of blades. My creativity is not visible in architecture, nor in the tools we use every day. My creativity cannot be sewn, nor crafted. My creativity does not create programs for the online world, nor does it create a system for believers to fledge.
No, for my creativity is expressed primarily in words. I create stories, using characters, some borrowed, some crafted. Like a beloved poet, a la the individuals I reference in these titles, my creativity brings together words and turns them into something greater than the some of it’s parts.
You may think I have gone off topic, do you not? Fear not though, because my point is that all the gifts I have been given within my brain, the one thing I put my hat on as my top skill, is all down to Autism.
People may tell you that people with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) are stupid, they are anti-social losers, on the fringes of society, dangers and meanaces to the neurotypicals who we share a world with.
But there’s only one response to that. Yes, we may be anti-social, and yes, we may be on the fringes of society. But you’re the ones who put us there. And you’re the ones who can bring us back. We’re only dangerous if you let us be dangerous.
So this day, this week, this month, this year, why not find that shy autistic kid who everyone laughs at because of his obsessions and his lack of talking? And when you do, don’t stay in the shadows and laugh. Talk. Say hello, ask how they are, try and understand what they are doing. If you’re interested in that, they are likely to be interested in you. We’re not monsters, we’re just wired up differently with our neural circuits.
20 years ago, Dr. Andrew Wakefield tried to make a link between the MMR vaccine and Autism. There has always been calls to find a cure for Autism, this “disease”, this “disorder”, this “disaster”.
But why cure the greatest thing ever? Do you really understand Autism? Because if you’re calling for this abhorrent condition to be cured, for the “sufferers” to be “normalised”, then you clearly don’t.
Did Albert Einstein need “curing” when he formulated the theories of General and Special Relativity? Did Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have a deadly disease when he composed his Requiem in D minor? Did Thomas Jefferson get laughed at and teased when he drafter the American Declaration of Independence? I’ve had Autism my entire life, and I’ll be damned if I lose it… ever. My name is Phillip Joseph Robinson, and I have Autism. And I am f***ing proud of it!