I see many posts and memes that say things along the lines of “autistic people are not weird.”
I understand the intentions. I understand that these are created to promote acceptance of autistic people, but every time that I see one of these types of memes and posts, I think “but I am.”
I’m not referring to the classic definition of weird being associated with the supernatural. I’m talking about the way that the word refers to unusual.
I don’t do things in the usual way. The usual way of doing things has never worked for me, and I’ve always been surrounded by people who have called me weird. In some situations, people have done so to be derogatory, but in other situations, it’s been a form of endearment.
I think the derogatory nature of calling someone weird is what people are objecting to when they create those posts and memes, so I understand the intentions.
But the thing is that we are actually weird. We can’t pretend that we’re not weird when that is what we have been called from early childhood. To me, fighting against being labelled as weird is futile. It’s a losing battle because there will always be people who label us as such. If we’re telling our children that they’re not weird, then we’re setting them up for disappointment because other children will still call them unusual, strange, etc..
I think that we need to embrace the weird.
In the same way that we are reclaiming the word Autistic, we can embrace being weird. When we reclaim a word, we get more control over how that word is applied.
In that way, we can fight against the assumption that being weird is somehow less valued than being normal. We can practice being proud. Then, when people see us being proudly weird, this may force them to confront the assumptions that they have about the word.
Of course, there have been times when I have wished that maybe the less weird ways would work for me because then I would have been subjected to less ridicule. Of course, life might be easier if I forced myself to do things in the usual way (except that forcing myself to do things in the usual way would probably be harder). I’m not trying to deny that I experience ridicule and challenges because I do things in weird ways.
But that ridicule and those challenges have also forced me to really think about why I do things the way that I do them. The weird ways in which I do things works for me. The weird ways in which I do things is an integral part of who I am, and influences how I experience and interact with the world.
So, I’m not going to deny it. Instead, I embrace the fact that I’m weird, and in that way, I can practice being proud.
This post has been translated into Russian. You can access the translation here.