“You don’t look autistic”

Well, see, I only have 26 minutes to write this post.  I can’t save and come back later, because my bug runs off and I have no idea what I was getting at.  Posting is a one-shot deal.  Set your timers.  Ready, go!

The question of the day (along with number 4 and letter P) is, what does “autistic” look like?

Does it look like sitting in the corner, screaming and banging your head on the floor?  Because, at least in public, I don’t do that.

Does it look ugly?  Why, I’m cute as can be (and, in my opinion, the VAST majority of kids with ASD are too!) thankyouverymuch.

Or how about silence?  Is autism silent?  I can be very vocal.

Clearly, these are stereotypes, and once that I don’t (always, even usually) fit.

Truthfully, at first glance, you probably wouldn’t peg me as autistic.  You might notice something is “off,” but even then you’d often be hard-pressed.  When you come up to talk to me, I can be very engaged and very vocal.  I don’t make eye contact, but I do look at mouths (they help me to hear the words), so you’d never know it.

I thought I’d give you some examples (these are only examples and do not cover the whole realm of things!) of things I do out in public that, if you’re thinking, might make you think autism.  Why does it matter?  Because hopefully, when people read this, they’ll be able to think, “Hm, maybe he/she is autistic and not just a brat,” when out in public.

So we’re at Petco, with Mom and Mom’s best friend.  Mom and her friend are talking to two older ladies about these parrots.  I make the parrot dance (if you go up and down, he goes up and down) and walk away.  I come back every few minutes to feel Mom’s nails (she gets them done so they’re super smooth), make an unhappy noise (because I want to leave), and wander away.  Rinse and repeat, oh, six or eight times.  Finally, I walk up to Mom, shove my face into her shoulder, and whine, “No THANK you.”  She knows I want to go, and that I’ve been patient (for me), and so we go.  I wasn’t just being whiny- the lights were hurting me.

Or how about we’re at the restaurant.  I let Mom’s friend (yes, I was with her two days in a row!) do most of the talking, but once or twice I shout a delayed “thank you!” as she walks away.  She turns back, then keeps going, a little confused.  As we get ready to leave, I say, “I have chicken tenders everywhere I go and these were delicious!”  Again, she’s not sure what to say for a split second.  She recovers without issue.

Sometime in the future, when I get my dog, I’ll be out in public sometimes with a cane, sunglasses, and a service dog.  I foresee the public assuming that I’m blind.  Keep in mind that what looks like blindness may in fact be autism!

People often peg autistics as inappropriate and awkward.  I can be both, but not exactly blatantly so.  If you tell me your cat died, because you said “cat” it will trigger, “I have a cat!”  I can also be a bit awkward, especially so around my peers.  I do better with older people.  But when I am, it’s usually because I’m so excited and happy about something that you kind of overlook the awkwardness.

Of course, this is all how I am on a more engaged day.  Other days, you may realize a lot quicker than something’s up, and that’s okay too.  Just please, continue to talk to me like you always would.  I’m still Lydia!

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