Friday, February 1, 2013

Response: Autism is NOT An Identity

No, it's not. Autism is a spectrum DISORDER, and it is a developmental and medical condition. Autism is not a physical or personality trait. Sure, it's part of my brain, but that is not a choice I made.  Personality traits can be altered, but I can't change (remove/erase) autism. Go ahead, attack me... I would if I could.

It was suggested to tell my prospective employer that I'm "quirky" and have difficulty socializing. Quirky autism fashion sense! Autism is much more than that (duh!). Also, I have trouble communicating. Yes, that sometimes could mean difficulty speaking. It's all part of who I am. I would still be an eccentric geek without the autism. Autism just adds a bit (or rather a lot) of very fashionable deficits, impairments, and struggles.

First, not being able to read body language or facial expressions is part of who I am. It's a new personality trait. I chose it. Unfortunately, I can't erase it. Unlike my hair or eye color, inability to read non-verbal signals and other social cues impairs my ability to relate to others, form friendships, and romantic relationships.

Employment problems that can include challenges with speaking in stressful situations, socializing, and reading, understanding, and interpreting social cues are also part of the autism fashion sense. Don't worry, the employer will accommodate that (or not!).

Sensory issues? Those are just "cute reactions" to people and things. They're part of the "gift" of autism.

Getting distracted by noise? Difficulty filtering things out? Getting overwhelmed and anxious? Try earplugs or listening to music with headphones - IF the employer will allow it.

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