Am I the Autistic Me or Not?
The "positive" versions:
- Because you are successful, self-expressive, driven, and have a career, it is hard to believe you are autistic.
- Because you are considered intelligent…
- Because you did well in school…
- Because you have a wife, good relationship with family, and seem to lead a "normal" life (especially for an introvert)…
- Because I've never seen a meltdown, non-verbal day, shaking, stereotypical behaviors…
The "negative" versions:
- You must be lying to get attention.
- You played the neurologists for suckers.
- You are merely an awkward geek, like other smart people.
- You are using autistic traits as an excuse for being lazy.
The reality is more complex, as it always is. Here's my current, as of this moment, take on if I am "the autistic me" or not:
I do not consider myself "autistic" 98.99% of the time. I simply don't think about it. That puts me at odds with many self-advocates, especially the most vocal and engaged advocates. "Autistic" is not an identity that's deeply ingrained, maybe because it is a relatively new label or maybe there's some other reason.
As I have written here in the past, I want to be considered successful based on my works as a writer, teacher, and tech. Judging me by a different scale because I happen to have physical and neurological challenges bothers me. It might be unavoidable, but I'd rather be a "good writer" than a "good autistic writer."
But, to the claims that I am "not autistic" there is another, more complex aspect that I have also addressed in the past.
Today, "autism" refers to a lot of things, some of them I doubt are as closely related as the single label suggests. I do not view "autisms" as one thing, and I'm not sure it is useful when others try to group every "autism" under the same umbrella.
I am not "autistic" by genetics, toxins, or whatever else some people associate with autistic traits. My birth was complex, there were serious injuries, and those seem to have effected my neurological and physical existence. That's it. Nothing sinister, nothing to rally against. A breech birth, in the 1960s.
There's no "regression" in my history. No sudden "change" that led to a diagnosis of autism. So, I am not the "autistic" many parents recognize. I have traits, and those traits have been grouped together on a checklist that some psychiatrists decided to call "autistic."
I'm just whatever I am. As I wrote earlier, I simply want to be the best at what I enjoy doing. That's probably not being the best "autistic" — that's not my goal.