Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Bursting bubbles

so, I finally heard about an Autistic flash blog before the deadline. not much before, but enough (I hope).

the theme is "love not fear". I am not a parent, so I can't really give advice on that. I can, however, talk about bath time...

bath time is wonderful. I can't sense time passing so I have to sit next to the bath and watch it run. I sit in the warm, bright bathroom and knit. my current knitting project is a lace pattern that I've just about memorised, so it's beautiful and engaging without being difficult. I sometimes find myself baby-talking at the beautiful stitches. when the bath is full, I strip off and carefully step in. I sit down and stroke the inside of the bath, dislodging the tiny bubbles. I watch the bubbles scurry to the surface. each one has a shadow, wriggling across the bottom of the bath, until the bubble bursts on the surface, producing a flash of refracted light on the bottom. my own, private, silent firework display. when I'm finished with the bubbles, I lay back, watch the ripples on the ceiling and let my mind wander. eventually, I also wash my hair.

I can also talk about catching a train to another city...

like most Autistic adults, I'm unemployed. this means I have to get an advanced ticket or I can't afford to travel at all. as mentioned above, I don't sense time passing. I also have no concept of left & right, my sense of direction isn't terrible, I just can't attach words to it reliably.

so, I have to get a bus, train then a tube to the station where my advanced ticket starts. if I'm late, my ticket is worthless. if I need to ask for directions, I'll need to translate them from left/right to mental image. most of the time, I'm going from kings cross/st pancras and I "see" them as 1 station until I come up from the tube. things are further complicated by tube strikes, distraction caused by excitable Glaswegian gentlemen and, occasionally, panic attacks.

I love my wonky brain. I'm terrified of messing up because of its limitations but I love it anyway.

I don't wish I was different, but I want & need a better world. when I asked her how she felt about me being queer, my mum said she was ok with it, but would prefer if I was straight because then my life would be easier.

she's right, but wishing I was straight is not the way to deal with that. if she's worried that I might face prejudice in employment, in health care, by the media and people on the street, she should be finding ways to speak up, challenge outdated attitudes and laws. changing me will never be the answer.

to fully love and accept the Autistic people in your life, stop separating them from their labels. it's not ok to say that the bad bits are Autism and the good bits are personality, it's all Autism AND personality. my creativity, stimming, sense of humour, time keeping, generosity, and sensory issues are all part of me and fundamentally Autistic. you need to love and accept that I'll be late, I'll bounce when I get excited and I never want you touching my hair.

you need to build spaces where we know we can ask for help without fear or judgement, and let us be in that space so we can re-learn how to ask for the help we need, which may involve working out what that help looks like and probably means being "ungrateful" for something you previously thought was helpful. we don't want to hurt you, we just need you to stop hurting us. if hearing that a particular attitude or therapy schedule hurts the Autistic person in your life is painful, I'm happy for you. you messed up an can now learn from that. if you were comfortable with that knowledge, you would be a monster. keep reading, keep learning, keep refining. love and acceptance is a process.

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