Not too long after I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, I had a phone conversation with a friend. I chose to tell her I had Asperger’s, even though that wasn’t technically the diagnosis. It would be if I’d been diagnosed a few years earlier. I made some type of joke (can’t remember exactly what it was about) and said, “now that I’m autistic…”
She said, “You have Asperger’s; you’re not autistic.”
But Asperger’s is on the spectrum. The DSM doesn’t use it as a diagnosis anymore, but I still find myself using the term every once in awhile.
What she probably meant is what a lot of parents of autistic children would mean if they said something like, “You’re not like my child. You can speak and have a job as a writer.” Or, “You have an apartment and live on your own.” The stereotypes seem endless.
I was autistic on the phone with my friend, I have been all of my life, and I will remain autistic until the day I die. I find it unfortunate that certain beliefs still exist. I’m supposed to look or behave in a certain way, otherwise there’s no way I could be autistic in some people’s eyes. I wish more people would read about autism or listen to autistic people and not just remember the movie “Rain Man.” No, I can’t count toothpicks that have fallen on the floor. I am a decent artist, though. I will give myself that.
I am autistic, like it or not. And I’m no less than a neurotypical person.
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Thinkstock photo by Lisa Anfisa