Updated: Dec 5, 2019
Being #Autistic is not perfect. It's not fun or quirky, it's a disability, it makes my life difficult, and makes life difficult for millions of people, including the people and children I've worked with in the past.
I've met those who have varying support needs, from those who require 24/7 care, can't speak verbally, or through any assistive communication, to those who on a good day you'd have no idea they're autistic.
At the same time, the above person could even be the same person, a childhood like that, where in adulthood, through support and what works for them, be able to communicate better, and be more independent.
The same could be said of me; I have times, where I can not communicate at all, I need to use AAC, or even sometimes I can't do that, my only communication is screaming at the top of my lungs and self harming, because I can't get what's in my brain, to be said, or done.
In those moments I become trapped within myself, unable to communicate what I really think or feel, unable to control what I do or say.
It's in those moments I hate being autistic.
But at the same time, I'm lucky enough that I have times that I don't hate it, that my sensory sensitivity, the things that cause me to have meltdowns and overloads, actually help me.
I can cook from scratch just by smell and sight alone, treating dishes that cause one of my friends who went to Johnson & Wales to say that I should have gone to them instead.
I can create photography on par with professionals who have decades of experience with magazines and otherwise (not all the time, mind you), when I never even got my degree and dropped out of college.
I can use my pattern analysis, I can fine-tune the overwhelming amount of information that my brain takes in on a daily basis, and use that to understand the world, and people in it, better every day.
And yet, I still see it as a disability, I still see it as something that I need help with, that others need help with.
I have met those who are non-verbal, or non-speaking. I have worked with those who "smear", who's parents would cry because they didn't fully understand what was going on and would blame themselves.
I've worked with those who have other comorbid issues, from all over the spectrum of disability.
When I speak from this account, I speak for myself. I speak for what I would want, because I know what I want. I don't know what other people want, what other autistic people want, unless they say it or telling me, but I do know what harms them and I do know what helps them.
I know this because I'm autistic, I know this because of my experience in life, how I was a child, and what I went through that helped and didn't help.
But I also know what didn't help me, might help someone else; and what did help me might not help another.
When I give advice, or state an opinion, it's from my personal experience, and from the lives of the people I've known and met. I refuse to limit myself, to limit my knowledge and experience to just those that agree with me.
That is not how we learn, that is not how we progress. I am autistic, and I am disabled, I have other mental illnesses, and physical disability as well. There are other people who suffering is different from mine, but... We all suffer, together, and I believe in that, and through that, we can connect with one another better. We have to see life from the other person's point of view, through their suffering, through their life experience.
As such, I have stated on many occasions to my wife, and my family that I have hated being autistic, and at times have said that I wish I wasn't.
I spent 22 years of my life hating myself, and then I was diagnosed autistic officially and professionally, and suddenly everything that I hated myself for had an explanation, and in that moment, for me at least, the self-hatred changed.
Being autistic is a part of me, it's a part of who I am, and I refuse to hate myself for it and I refuse to put forth any ideology that would cause an autistic person to hate themselves, to hate being autistic.
It's not easy, but it is who we are, I choose to be proud of being autistic, to be proud of who I am, because I'd rather be happy in that, then continue hating myself and end up as a statistic.
It doesn't mean I don't still have thoughts of self hate, it means I can work through them and reframe them, and accept myself how I am. We should all strive to do the same, because at least for now this is how we are.
If that ever changes, for whatever reason it may be, then we can deal with that if and when it happens, and even if that option existed, I'd still choose to be autistic, but I support those who wouldn't.
I know not everyone enjoys being autistic, and I know that there are people that suffer from it, whether that be from being autistic directly, or from how society treats them, or from both.
Just because my suffering is different than others, it doesn't invalidate the suffering of someone else. It doesn't mean their thoughts and opinions are invalid.
I have spent almost a year now looking into everything, every side of this ongoing debate. As a very wise man said to me, the #neurodiversity movement is still in its infancy, it's still new and learning and evolving.
It is a civil rights movement for autistic people, but for all autistic people, and while it may not be there yet, I have hope and believe that one day everyone involved, everyone who is autistic, regardless of their personal opinions on what needs to be done, will be able to sit down with one another, civilly, and talk to figure out how to make the world a better place for autistic people. I had hoped and thought we were there now, but we're not, we're still a very long way away from that, but that's okay.
I will continue on my path, wherever it may take me, and I will continue trying to spread compassion and kindness and happiness to everyone I know and meet. I will do my best to help those who need it or ask for it, and defend those who need it or ask it for it as well.
But I'm not going to be silent in my opinions, if I disagree I will do so respectfully, I will not attack, and will not harass, and if I do, tell me, that is not the person I want to be.
As I've said in my previous tweets, I stand for #AllAutistics. I stand for those I disagree with completely, those whose actions or statements I believe brings harm to us, not because I agree, but because their lives and their rights, are just as important as everyone else's, and my own.
That is what a civil rights movement is about, that's what this should be about. And it will be, eventually. Eventually we will all stop fighting with one another, and I look forward to that day.
I have been trying to get people to be kind to one another, and in my own error, I have forgotten that it's not that easy or simple. In actuality it's much more complicated than that, and I apologize.
I still think we should try, if we can to be kind and compassionate and understanding to everyone involved.
Though for me personally, that extends beyond just people who are autistic, I have that view for every person and living being on this planet. That's just how I choose to try to be, that is my path, and it is hypocritical of me to expect others to do the same.
I am learning, and I will forever be learning, and that is a good thing. I am not perfect, and I will always make mistakes, and that is a good thing, because it means more opportunity to learn, to grow.
And that's not because I'm autistic, being autistic isn't the next step in evolution or anything like that, and if you hold those views, that is your choice, but I completely disagree.
Conversely, I don't view being autistic as a burden, I don't view it as a curse, or as something to always be hated.
But those are my viewpoints, and if people disagree with me on that, I support them. If people disagree with me, or if they agree with me, it doesn't make a difference, because we're all autistic, and we are all human.
As I stated in a previous thread, I discovered this was an argument going on for over a decade now, and longer than that too, and while we are all having this argument with one another, while we are all infighting, we have been turned into corporate profit. Into lab rats.
We've been murdered, we've been stalked and harassed, we've been threatened and exploited and blackmailed. We've had people mislead us, control us, and use us to push their message for their own gain, while losing ourselves in the process.
We need to come together and fight it, all of it. We are not play toys, we are not lab rats to experiment on, we are not your puppets, we are not your lackeys, we are human, and we are autistic.
We need to fight the corporate and government profiting off of our own lives, using us as marketing gimmicks or tokens to make themselves look better, while doing nothing to actually help us and everything to line their pockets.
I know this thread is long and all over the place, but if you read all of it I appreciate it. As such I want to make a statement, on how I'm going to be from this point forward:
If you are pro #neurodiversity, or #antiND, I am open to communication, I'm open to listening to what you have to say and I want to hear it, even if you disagree with everything I stand for, and I will still fight for your rights, for your life and happiness, no matter what.
I don't forgive the horrible things some people have done, in the name of what they believed was right, I don't excuse it, but I do understand it, and I'm not directing this specifically at one group or another, because every group is guilty of it.
I simply want to try to be better, to be a good person, and to do the right thing. I want to learn from my past mistakes, from others past mistakes and everyone's life and experience, and continually grow for the betterment of all.
As I have said many times before, and will always say, I love you all, and thank you for your time.