One of my favourite feelings is standing outside and feeling the fresh, warm sunshine against my pale skin (hopefully, I’ve remembered adequate sunscreen otherwise I’ll quickly have a VERY BAD FEELING) and a gentle breeze brushing my hair. This is my happy spot. This is freedom. This is joy. This is life. This is where I feel at peace. My mind is fluttering and my heart is singing. I am vibrant and radiant.
And yet. You had to know there was a “yet” or “but” coming.
I get weird looks sometimes. Why? I may be repeating a favourite script under my breath. This just means I’m happy! I may be flapping or flailing, because I’m overcome with joy or I’m overwhelmed at a sound going by. I may be doing my version of a crip-bounce (it ain’t graceful and you don’t need to see it, trust me). The looks. The whispers. The stares. The questions. Because I’m autistic. Because I’m filtering my world in a different way.
“Autism stole my child.”
I’ve heard parents say it so many times. That autism stole their child. That their child is a burden. That they’d rather their child be dead than autistic. But. I value each one of their lives, even if their parents don’t. Even if their entire world is telling them they’re stupid, they’re worthless, they’re burdens, and their little routines of comfort are petty, I’m shouting out at the top of my voice that they’re anything but. When they are murdered by their caretakers, I weep bitter tears for them. I mourn the dead and I fight like hell for the living.
But you know what?
Autism gave me my freedom. Autism gave me my voice. Being autistic is who I am. It’s connected me to a world of friends I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s helped me interact and understand on a level I wouldn’t otherwise. I’ll be the first person to admit autism isn’t all skittles and sunshine.
There are times that suck, that suck suck suck so much. Such as when I’m clasping my hands over my ears and crying because the neighbors are setting off fireworks. Such as having the words literally trapped inside me and being unable to speak. Such as not being able to wear what I want when I want due to sensory issues. Such as avoiding certain foods.
But at the same time, there’s beauty in it.
And so I say stim away. Flap away. Script away. You aren’t hurting anyone and you’re expressing joy. Or you’re calming yourself. Or it’s comfort. Or maybe you just plain want to. All these options are fine! All these options are valid!
For me, autism is freedom. Autism is life. Autism is who I am.
(Also, I kept this post family friendly in case people want to share with their kids or younger teens. Do you know how hard it was for me not to swear?! Really… well, I almost swore there, hard.)