Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Autistic Pride Day 2014: Autistic: Lifestyles, Quirks, Thought Processes, Memories, Personalities, and Gifts Part One

June 18 is Autistic Pride Day.  The name pretty much says it all, and for this day, I thought I would share with you all why I am proud to be autistic.
                I got this idea from a post from the Facebook page Thoughts from a Female Aspie.  It said:

                “So this cure of yours that’s in the works
                Exactly which parts of me would it remove?
                My Memory?                                     My Gift?
                My Quirks?                                         My Personality?
                My Thought Process?                    My Lifestyle

                I don’t want to be cured of Aspergers at that price.

                Basically, you can never know where one person’s autism begins and the rest of them end.  For one to be cured of his or her autism, one would have to lose part or all of their lifestyle, quirks, interests, memories, personalities, gifts, and more.  What kind of message are we sending to autistic people, and society as a whole, when we try to integrate autistic people by ridding them of their differences?  If people can accept me as the individual I am, what difference should it make that I have autism, and for that I reason, I thought for this occasion I would share stories each year about why my lifestyle, quirks, interests, memory, personality, and gifts are important to me, and why I am here to stay on this earth, and thus is my autism. 


                Every day, the first thing I do after I take my medication, before I brush my teeth, shower, and eat breakfast, is to do a meditation session that usually only takes me about ten minutes but is very powerful.  I start by saying three positive statements about my day or my life in general, followed by taking refuge in the Three Jewels of Buddhism-the Buddha (teacher), the Dharma (teachings), and the Sangha (the community of followers.  I then remind myself of the Five Buddhist Precepts I intend to follow (do not kill, do not steal, do not speak falsehoods, do not commit sexual perverse behaviors, do not compromise your performance with intoxicating substances).  After a myriad of chants and mantras to guard my mind against obsessive thoughts and bring good things into my life, I dedicate whatever merit I have accrued from my practice to all beings in their pursuit of happiness.  This meditation gives me comfort against all my day’s stresses, whether being stuck in traffic, late for work, swamped for exams, or the death of a loved one.  I wouldn’t want anyone to take that away from me.


                I am a pretty wannabee die-hard environmentalist and I hate to see recyclable can and bottles in trash cans where they will be unutilized and take up space for hundreds of thousands of years until they decay.  Counting the plastic bottle caps and aluminum tabs I have collected for crafts projects, I can see that I have recycled over 3,000 plastic bottles and 2,500 cans (which I’ve counted).  Surprisingly, people are often very complimentary and grateful when I do this and have given me positive comments several times.  They don’t seem to want it to go, and neither do I.

Thought Process

                Suffering the segregated education and discrimination that people with autism can be very damaging to one’s self-confidence, but after I found the right school for me, I came up with a way to make that better that works for me: I do the things I wish others would have been there to do for me.  In addition to starting two student organizations for students with autism and writing this blog, I regularly keep a blog of my stories of living on my own in college with a close circle of friends, relationships, and working at a job.  After I finish school, I hope to use what I wrote in my blog to write a book about my college experience.  My hope is to show what a person with autism can do if given the right educational support in order to send a message to the public and legislators about what people with autism can do if they are shown the right way.  Naturally there are people who abuse or mistreat me, I know the problem is with them, not me, and that they cannot appreciate the joys-friends, family, food, music-the way I do, and that is why they act the way they do.  That is how I help promote my self-esteem.


                My granddad says that I have a unique ability to remember names.  During junior college I started a mutual aid/social networking student group for individuals with autism.  I had the ability to remember twenty people’s names at a time, and always got the e-mail out to them about our upcoming meetings.  Today that organization has at least eighty members since when I last heard. 


                I love to use my spare time to developing new skills and helping others.  When I’m not playing my flute, writing poetry, or doing crafts projects, I love to help my mom rid her garden of weeds and acorn trees.  My mom has even paid me to do that for her, and two years ago I got paid to do that for my neighbor across the street who wanted to sell her home.  I’d say I have things pretty lucky for who I am.


                My granddad has always complimented my natural creativity, whether in music, art, or writing.  For this section, I thought I’d share some art projects I’ve completed made exclusively from old trash and found objects.

A wallet made out of Kool Aid packs


A coaster made from old receipts


A Zen garden fashioned out of an old Altoids tin

A handbag made from chips bag, which I gave a friend of mine to give his girlfriend for their one-month anniversary (she left him though)

                Well, is this something you would spend millions of dollars trying to cure, instead of spending considerably less money giving the educational and medical services to help develop and flourish?  These principles do not just go for me, but for all my autistic brothers and sisters out there, who, is you’re reading this I want to know this so you can stand up for, appreciate, pride yourself in, give to the world, and not trade it for anything else in the world that doesn’t require you to sacrifice it.