A Few Reasons to Hug an Autistic Today:
Blue Buildings, blue shirts, blue merchandise, everything’s so damn blue it looks like an episode of the Smurfs. Now why on earth could everyone be wearing blue? Are you wearing blue because you just happen to love the color blue or, is it the beginning of Autism Awareness Month, the month where Autism Speaks shoves their “Light It Blue” campaign and misguided-agenda down your throat faster than breathing tubes in operating rooms. The amount of sometimes harmful propaganda pertaining to Autism can be overwhelming and for those diving into an ocean they know nothing about, it can be the equivalent of climbing Everest without a map.
Scientists, doctors, the media, and parents of children on the spectrum will tell you many things about what they know Autism to be and no matter the wording or scientific jargon that gets coupled with each explanation, it’ll never tell the full story. It will always be the same cookie cutter bullshit that consists of “genetic mutation blah blah blah”, “synapses in the brain blah blah blah”, “a crisis blah blah blah”, “sleepless nights blah blah blah”, “lack of medical funding blah blah blah”. While each of these scenarios have some importance within a certain context, they detract from the most critical piece to the puzzle society decided to create, our well being and most importantly, our story. Now the point of this blog post is to remind all of the noobs (video game jargon for “newbie”) what Autism is an isn’t and why you should hug an autistic today, for the rest of the month, and always (with permission of course, I personally love hugs but there are those on the spectrum that get really uncomfortable, so please ask).
If I had to describe having Autism I’d liken it to having these super powers that grant me the ability to problem solve efficiently, comprehend math better than most, learn technology faster than others and troubleshoot it efficiently, write really well, enhanced eye sight that allows me to see at distances most couldn’t and a very efficient long term memory. Unfortunately with all super powers come caveats, I totally suck sometimes at socializing and can be terrible with small talk around people I don’t know very well or who I don’t share similar interests with. I don’t always adapt to drastic changes as well. It can take me longer than others to learn new and complicated concepts such as driving but when I do get it down I can do it better than most. I love and I love hard which make me susceptible to getting hurt more than others. I have a harder time forgiving, my enhanced eyesight/sensitivity makes certain types of lights harder to look at and eye contact can be struggle. While I understand sarcasm I suck at responding to it or playing off of it, I’m also a hardcore introvert so there’s only so much of people I can handle for one day before I have to retreat to my home, I also suck at saying no and can’t be an asshole to save my life,
Now with that being said, I will list a few things you should know about us Autistics and Aspies going into this month.
1. Not every charity and organization out there has our best interests in mind (I’m talking to you Autism Speaks). There are charities out there who will do their very best to depict Autism as something that ruins lives for the sake of scaring people into giving money towards finding a cure. This sort of thing can be pretty disheartening and it disgusts me when I see Autism portrayed as something that ruins lives or makes people miserable. Should you decide to donate to a charity, make sure you do your research and see what your fellow Autistics have to say about a particular organization. You’d be surprised what you can learn when you actually listen to what we have to say.
2. Speaking of depictions of Autism, I guarantee you that Autism isn’t the epidemic or death sentence people portray it as. I’m not going to lie to your face and tell you it’s easy because lying is something I just don’t do. It took a lot of work for me to get where I am. I will tell you however that when you approach Autism with the right outlook, it can be quite the adventure for both parties involved.
3. If you want to know more about Autism, search the internet for communities of Autistics and Aspies. While some are unwilling to chat with neurotypicals, there are those out there who are more than willing to tell you their story but I warn you, some of our stories aren’t for the faint of heart so make sure you approach with an open mind and an iron stomach.
4. Contrary to popular belief us Autistic are very capable of loving others, maybe not in the way you’d expect us to but we love and we love hard, so hard that it can hurt.
5. Not every Autistic person flaps their arms while making odd noises and not all of us can count cards (I seriously wish I could count cards though, I got loans to pay off and I could use some serious money). Autism is a spectrum for a reason. We all come in different flavors and no one Autistic is the same (please don’t make me use the snowflake analogy).
6. If you do happen to realize that someone is on the spectrum, please speak to them like they’re a human. I’ve had people who used to talk to me like I was some idiot. At the end of the day we just want to be treated like everyone else.
7. I didn’t choose this life, I didn’t choose to be socially awkward and I didn’t chose the struggles that I’ve had to endure, Neither of us did. It was a cross given to us to bear and the best we can due is carry that cross with a smile.
I hope people will use this month to better educate themselves on Autism and to learn to be more tolerant. There’s a lot to learn but always remember that this isn’t the only month to be interested in Autism. Take time to educate yourself on Autism because the more you know, the better.
Stay classy people…
Flemmings Beaubrun is an avid gamer and lover of music. When not working, Flemmings likes to spend his time whipping up dank beats for the masses. He also spends his weekends thrift shopping for rare video games and obscure electronics. Other times he’s in front of a TV with a giant bowl of cereal enjoying shows from the 90’s.