Monday, January 21, 2013

Everywhere I Go There I Am

I didn't really know what to call this post. I've been a bit "underground" of late, despite recent posts. I duno. Part of it has to do with the new job -- which has been amazing, by the way, and fully accommodating of autistic me, and while I still overcompensate in some ways, I feel the easement of demands on me to be "not me". It's a paradigm shift that I haven't fully processed.

This post is in response to some articles, I guess. It's an attempt at my own situated response to what has been ongoing identity politics in the autistic community, which echoes the identity politics I've encountered in other groups (mainly LGBTQQ groups back in the late 90s). I see identity politics as a kind of necessary step a movement goes through as it sorts itself (and its language) out. However, the movement of autistic people is kind of confusing and even more complicated -- rife with power politics -- because some of the claims aren't even being made by autistic people. The policing of who can call themselves autistic is so based within a medical model of illness and within a discourse of 'parent strife' that I feel the very act of trying to engage my own identity is like wandering into a sucking swamp full of mud-dwelling pirhanas.

Pardon the image.
I'll dwell no longer on the scariness of the prospect of my publishing this post.

This is who I am. I am many things. Many of them have nothing to do with autism.

I taught myself to read and yet I can have trouble processing (and therefore remembering) things when they are spoken to me instead of being written down.

I sometimes hit myself, or stim, when I leave an environment of high anxiety or when I've done something wrong.

I've also cut myself.
I've also banged my head over and over against things.
I've become non-verbal.

I was bullied.
I was abused, and this experience is interlaced with my experiences of non-verbalness and dissociation. And spent years trying to figure out feelings I didn't know how to articulate, and still struggle to figure out how to feel legitimate in my needs and feelings, and self-advocate.

I can talk to someone for a long time about how Foucault influenced the way I think about power.
But in my marriage I struggle with the pragmatics of everyday communication about emotions or what we are going to have for dinner.

I am measured, by IQ standards as superior in most areas, average in a few (and these feel like deficits)
But I don't really understand and get overwhelmed easily, I have trouble reading an analog clock, when someone explains something to me sometimes I don't understand it. Or I understand it and I can't respond. There are holes in my knowledge so wide that my intellectual peers tend to talk circles around me. (But then, I'm not exactly lamenting that I can't quote Dostoevsky).
I'm great at a lot of tech stuff. But I'm by no means someone who can write code because of object relations problems or something. But I have such extreme ability to pay attention to detail and to systematize the world that I often perform tasks more quickly, with greater accuracy, and more artistic flair than most people.

I forget to eat
I forget to bathe -- or have such intense sensory aversions to cold or dryness or my hair being staticky or wet or greasy -- that I end up paralyzed in a pit of being unable to self-care about anything. Even if this is brief, it is real.
I can fail to recognize that I have to use the bathroom, until it is very very urgent. I also have IBS. I walk a fine line at times, but I don't have accidents.

I identify more, often enough, with my non-verbal, or highly sensory-affected contemporaries. I identify with the things they write about their experience. Like Carly and Amy
I can feel I have less in common with people I could get lumped with because of some arbitrary DSM artifact.

I may exist on the other side of some line of "passing"-"not-passing" or presumed compentence/intelligence spectrum, but I do not see these as real lines, but ones imposed on people. The impositions don't serve us -- on either side.

But let me be clear. Needing to use AAC and not needing to use AAC makes a real difference in ones experience of the world. Needing to wear a diaper is a different experience than not needing to wear one. Self-harming sometimes is a different experience than constantly doing so -- but the reasons why aren't clear to many people -- but then reasons for self-harm aren't often understood. An attempt at self-regulation is but a guess, in line with Linehan's work married to Intense World Theory.

I don't know.
Sometimes, like today, I can feel lost and disorganized, and all these words, in text, on a page, and the fact that I might be able to get some things done at work, doesn't undermine the ways I do all of these things as an autistic person, with an auditory processing disorder, with sometimes very intense sensory experiences, with a limited pragmatic language ability, with a highly intense emotional world.

My heart breaks when people fight identity politics in autism
And forget what that we ALL deserve to fight for is respect and our own humanity.


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