V is for Vigilance
There are many things that being autistic have provided me. Attention to the small details, seeing the world in a different light, experiencing the world in new ways, problem solving and having the neurotypical people in my life completely confounded as to how in the world I came up with that solution to that problem. Those are just a few of the benefits.
One thing I didn’t count on, that I hadn’t even clued into being an actual thing that was related to being autistic is vigilance.
Even now, I hear that in my head in Mad Eye Moody’s voice (of Harry Potter fame) – “constant vigilance!”
It is being hyper tuned into your surroundings.
It’s noticing who is safe, and who isn’t.
It’s noticing patterns.
It’s gritting your teeth, knowing that there is no way in hell you can disclose your diagnosis because this person standing next to you has just said the most awful thing without a shred of regret or guilt (that you can tell).
It’s hoping that the restaurant you’re going to go to for dinner will not only be accessible (both physically and financially) but will not donate a portion of its profits to Autism Speaks or the like.
It’s being in line to purchase household necessities at the cheapest store in town and seeing a display for those damned bunnies and that God-awful logo.
It’s never being sure you’re safe.
It’s seeing things that used to be innocuous and never feeling safe again, because you know what those words and symbols represent in common culture, especially when autism is mentioned.
It’s puzzle pieces.
It’s the color blue.
It’s the month of my birth (April).
But I want to let my guard down. I want to not have to think about these things. Even when I’m not actively thinking about them, they’re always on my mind subconsciously. And once I realize that someone has stepped over that line and made me unsafe, usually in a place I didn’t expect, my hackles are up and I realize how much I have to guard and protect myself.
I’m done hiding.
I am Autistic.
Not broken. Autistic.
When will the rest of the world accept and understand me?
When will the rest of the world stop this faux awareness that permeates the month of April and hangs over me like a dark cloud and actually do something to make me feel like I can be me?
It’s 2016 and we are so far from there yet.
I never thought that Mad-Eye Moody was ridiculous for being on guard (despite what happened in that particular story). I thought it made sense.
Until the world is different.
Note: Parts of this, though not directly quoted, came from Lucas Schleek‘s poem “Things I wish I could enjoy again, but have been tainted by Autism Speaks’ propaganda”, which can be found in their book “This is a Clothespin“, from Damaged Goods Press.
This is part of a series of posts addressing themes from the neurodiversity movement and paradigm which will be published during the course of April 2016. To read the rest of the posts, please click here.