Take Me as I am
My experience as someone ‘other’ I’ve not often known how to catalog. From an early age, I’ve been drawn to books, music, words, encyclopedias, dictionaries, prose, poetry, lyrics, and the like.
I’ve been called ‘brave’ and ‘full of poise’ don’t mind her she’s ‘honest to a fault.’ I still find errors within myself. struggling with a stereotypical, skewed, distorted, and pessimistic view of who I am. I place little value because of painful experiences in my formative years when I felt free to be who I was. These negative views were expressed by my peers, church friends, and family. Not everyone was this mean or absentminded.
I need to make space to tell this story as a girl, teen, and woman with autism. I’m not someone who finds things wrong with other people ironically. Still learning how to navigate this neurotypical world for better and oftentimes worse. Still, I must at least try to reach out halfway. How will others understand if I don’t say anything? How can I expect understanding if I assume others will innately ‘get’ the way I operate? They won’t, and that does them a disservice.
Misplaced little girl, finding beauty in things others found mundane, macabre, weird, and strange. Not reacting to other females my age the way most learning ‘social graces’ would. Little China doll who’d sit too close to someone if I wanted to befriend them. Not knowing when to stop talking about my fixations and intuitively when to ask of theirs.
Some peers had the good nature to smile and nod or outright tell me ‘let’s talk about what I’m interested in now.’ I respected that and was not offended because it was a clear signal to listen to them. Many painful experiences I now see as hazing by cruel individuals who didn’t understand me nor want to.
My genuine friends were wheelchair-bound, down syndrome, and classically autistic ‘short bus kids.’ Others saw them as defective and broken throwaways. This naturally lead to ‘What is she? Perhaps they saw this as a threat? Most things that don’t make sense to growing humans until later adulthood are stigmatized, marginalized, and labeled to better deal with the growing pains and the path of least resistance.
I’ve been asked ‘what are you?’ denying personhood as a thing not worthy of ‘who are you?’ or better ‘how are you?’ Yet still, here I am attempting to make sense of myself then and now. To give oxygen, to investigate all my inexperience. The joyful, dangerous, disappointing, life-giving, and milestones throughout autism thus far.
Choosing not to look through rose or gray-tented glasses but honest lenses, digging deep within my soul, asking the hard questions but also asking those who’ve known me my entire life. What they saw and lived. Taking their point of view into my narrative creates a fuller picture.
Each hopefully in time, will allow me to exist as I rightfully am.