At birth, doctors suggested I would be mentally disabled, in addition to the physical injuries I suffered. I have never been described as normal. “High-functioning autism” (HFA) is just another way to describe a few aspects of “me.” The autistic me is the creative me, the curious me, the complete me.
Ignoring people isn't something I can do. There is no "polite mode" with my lack of executive function. If someone is a jerk, I tell the person, at that moment. That's something non-autistics never quite grasp, either. My wife has known me for 30 years and forgets that I have no mental editor. Unfortunately, I also relive moments, visually and aurally, for years after the incident. It is a mental film loop, playing repeatedly every day of my life. It is unpleasant, especially since one bad moment with a person or group is the moment that sticks with me for decades. If someone is rude, insulting, or cruel, that person has become a life-long miserable memory that can be triggered by the slightest thing.
I am considering two possible full-time posts at the university where I teach part-time. I love where I teach and shifting to full-time would enable me to better support the local performing arts. The university supports my artistic endeavors, and that's refreshing. Accepting a post does not require scholarship if I wish to maintain "teaching track" status in the future, but an administrator told it would be "icing on the cake" and has led to teaching-track faculty being awarded research support and rank promotion (associate, full, etc.).
A few colleagues have suggested I compose a research agenda statement and pursue publishing on my dissertation topic.
My doctoral research topic was autistic students and online education, though I also conducted two grant-supported surveys on the general experiences of autistics in college writing courses. To revise and publish the research would be a serious undertaking, but I believe one that would serve the community and th…
My wife and I like to take walks along the main street (actually, Third Street) of the nearby township. It is something out of a movie — even the park gazebo was donated to the community after a film wrapped. My wife said last night that the village across the way looks like something built for a model railroad layout. We live in Middle America, Hollywood-version.
And so, walking past the large, sky-blue puzzle pieces taped to store windows, the blue ribbons, the flyers, all these signs of "Autism Awareness" neither surprises nor pleases me. If anything, it annoys me to have "Autism" plastered all over cars, stores, and various products.
April is autism something-or-other month, depending on whom you ask. It's all about "acceptance" or "awareness" or "diversity" or "celebration" or "pride" — and I'm sure a few other concepts.
To this, I respond with a busy, preoccupied, "Whatever."
I get that people want to find support, inspiration, connections, and resources. I'm all for helping people, especially autistic teens and adults, find ways to achieve all they can. If autism month helps people find those supports, great.
But, what I dislike is the absurdity of the news media during this annual panic-feeding month. Put the risks in context:
You want to know what "caused" my autistic traits? Birth trauma. Period. And sure enough, that's number two on the list of risk factors, right beneath an autistic twin. But, easy explanations aren't what …
When I was young, I wanted to be an adult. I related more to my teachers than to other students as early as first and second grade. I was interested in current events, the stock market, and science. I was an outsider among my peers.
Now, I relate more to young people than to my peers. It is not an intellectual connection, but I wonder if my emotionally development stalled out at the mental age of 20-something. I was emotionally 25 at ten, and 26 emotionally in my 40s. That would be an interesting phenomena.
Stuck in a narrow emotional range? Being aware that something is wrong, different about me, is a strange sensation.
Do others experience this odd out of synch sensation?
Hanging out with friends seems to be something that most of my Facebook "friends" do on a weekly basis. Some seem to be hanging out nightly. They are the social butterflies I sometimes envy, because social skills matter personally and professionally.
I don't get random emails, messages, or phone calls from people asking, "What are you doing tonight?" I can't recall the last personal, non-work message, that was not initiated by me. People don't reach out to me without a reason.
Several people have said I make others uncomfortable one-on-one. Lecturing? Public speaking? Those are not a problem. But there is something "off" with my interpersonal skills.
Even if I had great social skills, I would I spend time alone so I could write and be creative. I know socially adept introverts. Wanting space doesn't mean you are socially awkward. Of course, I am so socially inept and an introvert. So, on the rare occasions when I do want to hang out,…