(Note: A.I.N.A.S.F.S stands for Autistic Is Not A Synonym For Stupid, a reference to the Fall Out Boy song title G.I.N.A.S.F.S which stands for Gay Is Not A Synonym For Stupid.)
One of the things I sometimes say to myself, bitterly, after someone says something based off of my intelligence or how I act is “I’m autistic, not stupid.” But that’s just a simplified version of what I’m feeling. What I’m actually feeling is this:
I’m autistic, not a stereotype.
Autistic people are not a stereotype – we’re people.
What I hate most is when people tell me not to worry about labels because that has been used as code for “I don’t believe you but I won’t tell you to spare your feelings” so many times in the past that I immediately get offended when someone says it. And trust me, I have loads of experience with labels: queer, genderfluid, asexual, etc.
I shouldn’t worry about being labelled as autistic? What if I want to be?
I don’t have a problem with the label. The autism label helped me so much this past year when I started doing research and realized that, hey, this actually makes sense to label me this way. It made me feel less weird and it helped me learn how to communicate my confusion over communication to my peers. Obviously, I don’t have a problem with the label – other people do.
The problem that people don’t realize is that they will tell themselves anything to avoid a stigmatized label, even for other people. And who would want to be one of the weird autistics, right?
I would, for one.
I can tell you so many stories of people trying to avoid the word autism when I bring it up, but I’m going to just stick with one: the results of my first evaluation.
You know that my results were? I was told by the doctor that I communicate too well to be on the spectrum but have so autistic many traits that I’m “autistic without being autistic.” Like, exact wording.
Take in how ridiculous it sounds. I know.
Okay, back to the regularly scheduled programming.
Anyway, this doctor had only met me once, twice if you count the day I got my results (which was also the day I had a meltdown and ended up in a psych ward so lol maybe she shoulda evaluated me a liiiittle bit more cos clearly I was having some issues), so how would she know how well I communicate? Because I know myself and I don’t communicate well. If I do? It’s an act.
Everything I do that makes people think I can’t be autistic is probably an act, even if it’s unintentional.
In fact, my psychiatrist was surprised that I don’t already have a diagnosis for autism. I’m currently working with him and my current psychologist to get re-evaluated.
Autism is not a bad thing. It’s a part of me.
I actually like the things that make me autistic. Have you ever heard of echolalia? It’s when you pick up on a phrase or noise and repeat it over and over again until your brain decides to let it stop. It’s actually kind of fun sometimes! Like one time my brain kept telling me “WELCOME TO FLAVOR TOWN” and I just couldn’t stop giggling cos I have no idea why my brain picked up on that phrase. And the word duck? Holy shit I love that word like just repeat it to yourself and bounce in your seat and maybe you’ll feel as happy as I do when I do it. Duck duck duck duck duck duck. But that’s not all! Stimming can be cool too! One of my stims is bouncing in my seat and it’s kinda fun. And I picked up a happy stim of flapping my arm from one of my friends, how cute is that? It’s basically my body being like “I like you so much, I’m gonna stim like you do when I’m happy.” THAT’S ADORABLE.
But here’s the thing, just because I’m autistic, doesn’t mean I’m not a normal human being. I like having friends and doing things and whatever other stereotypical normal people things are (I don’t have the spoons or the motivation to think up more specific examples lol). It just takes more energy out of me to experience them sometimes. It just causes different reactions out of me sometimes. I just fixate a little too much sometimes. I just need more clarification sometimes.
To you, I’m autistic and that makes me weird and different. To me, autism is normal. It’s what I’m used to and I can’t imagine what it would be like if I was neurotypical. And honestly? I don’t want to. I think I’d be bored.
I’m running low on spoons (a term for energy used in the disabled and mentally ill communities) right now so even though this post feels unfinished to me, I’m not gonna push myself to finish it cos that’s kind of the point, you know? My energy works differently than neurotypical people and I don’t have to apologize for it. If I want to publish an unfinished post about autism, I can.
And if none of this can convince you that autism isn’t bad, at least know this one good thing about me being autistic: I’m easy to shop for. Just get me something you know I’m obsessing over and I’ll be good. You ever tried shopping for a neurotypical person? It’s so difficult cos they don’t obsess over anything like autistic people do. It’s even a little aggravating. Their interest is so CASUAL like how in the hell???? Why can’t they just. Obsess over stuff to the point of being called obnoxious and made fun of like I do???? I mean, for god’s sake, fuck you Blake. You better enjoy your birthday present cos me and Anna struggled to pick it out for you cos you’re so god damn neurotypical.
(To clarify, Blake, I love you and miss you and you are really hard to shop for)
Oh, and by the way, I also have just been diagnosed with Tourette’s. Might as well just say it. I’m already the weird, autistic, queer kid. Now I’m all that plus Tourette’s. Wooooo!
Other things you should read:
Autism Self-Diagnosing Tools (if you think you might be on the spectrum)
Blogging Against Disablism: Sometimes it’s subtle…
Why I am Against Autism Speaks (and you should be, too)
Diagnosis, Rain and Tractors
Spoon Theory for people with not a lot of spoons to read it
That time I was in a psych ward, if you don’t already know