You’d be forgiven for thinking that Autism was something that was purely a child’s “condition”.
This is mostly because we are all now hyper aware of Autism, because of the research that has gone into it and the controversy around Vaccines (no, they DO NOT cause Autism) that hit the headlines and has been in and out of the media ever since.
You’d also be forgiven for thinking that it only appears in boys.
I know I’ve blogged about Autism before. However, that was more to do with the investigation into my own children’s cases of Aspergers / High Functioning Autism. Then my partner was “diagnosed” with it as well. I began to suspect that I too had it. Especially when the genetic links began to appear in my extended family.
I’ve researched and thought and mused. I’ve talked about it with professionals and read anything and everything I could get my hands on.
Anytime I mentioned Autism in connection with myself though, people would say things like:
“You’re imagining it.”
“Not everyone has Autism. You’re normal.”
“Stop trying to label yourself. You don’t need it.”
“All Humans have the same traits; it’s not special.”
“You’re just an Introvert.”
“Only boys have Autism.”
“It’s something Children have. They grow out of it.”
Then I saw this:
Professor Tony Attwood – Autism in Females from Healthed on Vimeo.
As he talked I ran through the things he was talking about in my head. I saw my HFA Partner, both of my HFA children and I saw myself.
And I realised that it wasn’t a bad thing that I identified myself in the Professor’s words. I’m not “imagining it”
I’m 41 this year. And yes, I am Autistic. I am Aspergers / High Functioning Autistic and I don’t need to hide it or excuse it anymore. But I do “need to label“ myself with it, because I am not “normal” , or at least not as far as the mainstream “Neurotypical” society is concerned.
Mainstream society is unforgiving, nasty, uncaring. Mainstream society looks down on anyone “different”, anyone who disrupts the smooth running of their world. But they’re very quick to take advantage of the successes of Autistics, of the different mindset and creative vision, as the brief list below shows:
Famous People with Aspergers
Craig Nicholls, frontman of the Australian garage rock band, The Vines
Gary Numan, British singer and songwriter
Jerry Newport, American author and mathematical savant, basis of the film Mozart and the Whale
Richard Borcherds, mathematician specializing in group theory and Lie algebras
Satoshi Tajiri, creator and designer of Pokemon
Tim Page, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author
Vernon L. Smith, Nobel Laureate in Economics
Famous People who MAY have had Aspergers
Alan Turing, 1912-1954, English mathematician, computer scientist and cryptographer
Albert Einstein, 1879-1955, German/American theoretical physicist
Alexander Graham Bell, 1847-1922, Scottish/Canadian/American inventor of the telephone
Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1868-1928, Scottish architect and designer
Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886, US poet
Isaac Newton, 1642-1727, English mathematician and physicist
Nikola Tesla, 1856-1943, Serbian/American scientist, engineer, inventor of electric motors
There are many more; check out the article – http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/article_2086.shtml
By “labelling” myself, I put Society at ease – I give them a reason that they can understand for my behaviour. And Humans in general love labels – when we (as a species) can put people into neat little boxes, we can forget about the things that made us think bad things about the person and focus on the good things again.
Girls do get Autism – it’s genetic so of course girls are going to get it. It’s just that boys aren’t as sneaky as girls. They’re more immediate and action orientated… go watch the video again – Professor Attwood explains it very neatly.
And “Autism is not just for children”. You know why?
Because Autism is a physical difference in the way the brain works, like Dyslexia or being Left Handed. It isn’t something that can be cured – you just learn how to deal with it, to get around the things that cause you problems as you get older.
Autistic Children grow up into Autistic Adults.
You “don’t grow out of it”. If it is identified early enough, they can learn how they are different from “Neurotypical” children and learn how to fit in with the society that “Neurotypical” people have created. They can also learn how to celebrate and use the traits that make “Neurotypical” people think they are strange or weird to be successful in the “Neurotypical” world.
So Autism is a lot more common than society seems to think. My pet theory is that it’s possibly an evolutionary thing – something that Mother Nature tried out on the human race. I have no idea if it’s a recent thing or not; that’s for a scientist to work out, not a writer.
I have accepted that I am who I am. It’s taken 41 years to do it, and now I know why I am the way I am. I can use my autistic traits to make myself successful and I know how to ameliorate the things that Society doesn’t like about me for when I am in the company of people who don’t understand Autism.
Maybe one day Mainstream Society will accept us Autistics for who we are and not try to make us act like them. Maybe one day Autistic Children will be able to show everything that they are without needing to conform and be accepted.
For more information on Autism: