Happy Autistic Pride Day!
By Lisa Macafee
You might be wondering what there is to be proud about in being autistic and I would have wondered the same thing before I fell into an autism research pit a few years ago. Today, I can legit say that I’m proud to be autistic.
I have found that my compulsion to tell the truth is shared by many of my neurodiverse fam. I *can* lie, but I will be really upset about it and almost always tell the truth. I do not understand the functional purpose of lying and dislike it when others lie.
Autistic folk will rarely say one thing and do another (unless we forgot). We are typically open and what you see is what you get. You don’t have to worry about our hidden inner narratives about you or two-facedness, because typically we don’t do that.
We can hyper-focus on the things that interest us to the point where we work non-stop and might forget to eat, drink, or use the bathroom! We get shit done! At least when it’s related to our interests. Our special interests lend towards our becoming experts on the things we are passionate about.
Granted, being an expert in sub-tropical fruit trees for Southern California isn’t a skill that a lot of people care about, but I’m proud of my sustainable agriculture skills! My passions for equity are a little more marketable, lol.
Many of us see patterns. Instead of seeing loose unrelated data points, I weave the data into a story and find causal factors for the inequities around me. This is useful in my work for LGBTQIA+ support!
Speaking of queer stuff, it’s fitting that Autistic Pride Day is June 18th, right in the middle of LGBTQIA+ Pride month! Autistics are much more likely than neurotypical folks to be queer. The numbers vary based on what research you read, but we’re three to seven times more likely to be queer (especially on the gender side)!
Autism is strange in the way it affects my ability to understand myself, I teach about gender and sexuality, but don’t understand my own. I thought everyone had this internal blindness until I started talking more with other queer folk who have clear ideas of their gender and the bodies they are attracted to. Who knew?
I identify as autigender (someone whose autism heavily affects the way they view their own gender), non-binary (someone who doesn’t feel completely masculine or feminine), and demisexual (someone who is attracted to personality, not body types).
Every autistic person experiences their reality a bit differently, but we tend to be more openminded about differences and less likely to judge. If you tell us about your struggles (key point – don’t assume we’ll pick up on it – you have to tell us), many of us are very empathetic. We understand stigmatization, othering, and suffering and often want to help others who experience these negative feelings.
We think differently because our brains are different. We approach problems differently and often come up with creative solutions to problems.
We often have sensory sensitivities that can help us create visual and sensory pleasing environments for others because we pay attention to the little things (because they can drive us crazy) that others don’t notice but make a subtle difference in mood.
Some people call us blunt or rude (which can be true!), but I appreciate the lack of bullshit you typically find with autistic folk. We will often speak up when we feel something is wrong and will often defend others against abusive authority or bullies. We question norms and traditions that don’t serve people’s best interests because “the way things are done” has never been a compelling reason to do thing for most of us. I need logic and data to convince me something is right.
Our own struggles have often made it harder for us to function in the typical life, so we have learned to be tenacious. We have learned determination because we had to.
If you have an autistic friend, co-worker, or family member, we tend to be truthful, loyal, and committed to the things we believe in (including you).
Autistic folk are awesome.
Happy Autistic Pride Day.
Hello friends! I would like to publish writings from myself and other people with autism as snapshots of how autism has affected them, since there are so many misconceptions and confusions about adults with autism.
Some background: I completed a 12 unit certificate program to be able to serve autistic students and am angry at how the program focused only on little boys as autistic and completely left out adults, the trans autistic population, and girls/ femmes/ women autistics. I am currently pursuing a PsyD to do more research on autism and gender.
Please contact me if you would like to add a story! If so, please send me your piece, publish name, title, and an image (can be a picture related to your content, your picture, an autism meme, etc).
I am interested in publishing this collection, because people don't know enough about us (but sure do assume a lot). Also on Facebook!
Lisa Macafee, autistic counselor with a hankering for social justice.