I have autism. I know that since my eleventh birthday – a year I still hate with a passion.
Autism. I know what is is, but I always found that word intriguing. If you search for a definition, it says (according to the Autism Awareness Centre): Autism is a lifelong, nonprogressive neurological disorder typically appearing before the age of three. The word “autism” means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction.
Wikipedia, maybe, says it in more layman terms: it’s a social impairment. I lack the intuition about others that many take for granted, fail at communication and take things too literal. Add restricted interests and repetitive behavior and you complete my picture.
But I think neither of these definitions touch my heart. They explain my issues – maybe – but they never say a word about who I am. The other day I listened to the radio. They talked about autism and a listener, someone who had autism hiomself, gave it a definition I never forget.
Autism means: to live in your own world.
And that’s so true.
I don’t always understand what others do. Or why they do it. People say I’m handicapped, but I don’t think I am. I just see the world differently.
That’s why I started to translate the manuscript. I wanted to learn to see the world like everyone else. Mind you, I don’t want to become ‘normal’. I say it best in Children oif Little Might:
No! Merriam-Webster describes ‘normal’ as ‘ordinary’ or ‘usual’ and therefore average at best. That’s not me. I excel in many things; but please not in autism.
I think differently – and therefore live through the world differently. That’s all. The only reason why I am limited is because your world limits me. You say you understand our predicament, but still we are the ones who have to change.
Of course, Mom always said. You need to live in their world.
Which makes me ask you one question and one question alone. Since flexibility is such a difficult thing for me, then why do YOU want ME to be flexible to fit in your world?
Why can’t you try to fit in mine?
Or better still: why can’t we meet somewhere in the middle?
Could it be, maybe, because you’re not as flexible as you want me to believe?
A scene from chapter 5 of Children of Little Might:
“You think it’s funny? The school began not more than two and a half months ago and already you have poked three students in the eye, sounded off to two teachers, broke Mark’s arm and ran off, all for no particular reason.”
Yes. If you put it that way, it sounds awful. At least reality tells a different story. Those three students bullied me. When no one intervened, I stopped them myself. As a result, one of my teachers reproached me later that day. I raised my voice and told her I stood up for myself. A second teacher came to her rescue and said I had to come to them if that happened. I told him I went to a teacher, who suggested I dealt with it. I listened and now they reprimand me? I added that if he lost weight, he could have witnessed what happened firsthand and he wouldn’t rely on hearsay alone.
I admit I shouldn’t say that. Adults fail to handle the truth the same way they expect me to handle it.
And Mark… Mom whispered to Storm that Mark had it coming. She blamed Karma for it, but it wasn’t Karma. No girl ever fought for me. I solved it on my own, as always, and broke his arm.