Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hitting, humming and twisting, oh my

Something different has been going on with me in the past month.  I think my stress reactions are changing, or something is at least, because I've begun doing things I've never done before.  Namely, I've started hitting and tapping myself and things around me more often, as well as humming a single note and twisting my body.  I'm not sure this is a positive development, but it's very curious.

At times, it seems like a new stim.  I tap my head over and over again when I'm stressed or overwhelmed by the environment.  Just this past week, I was sitting in my doctor's office and the combination of the air conditioner, people talking and doors opening became too much for me.  I wound up sitting with my head down, tapping the sides of it over and over to block everything out.

Other times, it's more troubling, like when I was at a music festival.  Sitting there, I wound up constantly shaking my hands, tapping them together, hitting the ground or my head or my shoulders and twisting my torso around.  I don't understand why I'm doing this, if it's an AS thing or something else.  I feel better when I do it, there's no compulsion or obsessive need to, but at the same time I don't want to do it.  I know I look crazy and I hate looking weird in public.

Sometimes it's calming, while sometimes it's not.  It's alien and unwanted.  I have to move, have to shake my hands and tense my muscles, have to hum a single pitch to myself or hit my shoulder with my hand over and over.  I feel like I'm not in control of my body when that happens.  My tics - the twitching and grimacing ones I usually have - aren't great, but I'm at peace with them.  These are a new senation.

Anyone else suddenly develop something like this?  Should I be worried about it, or just let it go and hope it goes away?

Monday, August 13, 2012

The best explanation of autsim ever

I've been searching for a way to easily explain my AS to people for a long time, and have come up with very little.  I have a habit of over complicating and getting lost in the details of what I'm trying to say because I know so much about this topic.  Where it'll start off fine, I end up getting into comorbidities and exacting details of everything and wind up confusing my listeners.

That's why I'm so grateful that MOM-NOS wrote a series of posts about how she explained her son's autism to his classmates.  They're from 2010, but I can't see them going out of date any time soon.  Her analogy about having a hair dryer brain in a toaster world is spot-on what it's like to have autism and how I view the world.  If anyone has a question for me about why I do certain things, I'll be directing them here.

MOM-NOS: A hair dryer kid in a toaster brained world

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why I'm a person with autism, not an autistic person

Tonight, as I was browsing through my tweets as I often do, I ran across an interesting post from Zoe at Illusion of Competence.  In her post, she explained why she uses the term autistic person to refer to herself rather than saying that she is a person with autism, and likened the latter phrase to implying that a person could simply lose their autism much like someone could lose their suitcase.

For me, using person-first language and saying that I am a person with autism is a way of presenting myself to the outside world.  For me, I'm saying to people "Hi, I'm a human being just like you, and I happen to have a neurological difference".  To me, that's positive.  To put my autism out first is to say "Hi, I'm different than you and you're welcome to treat me that way".  For me, it's not about separating myself from autism so that I might lose it but presenting my humanity first to foster acceptance.

Fact is, people are cruel, and many neurotypicals are cruel to those who are different than them.  By presenting my autism first, it would be not allowing them the chance to get to know me before judging me.

Most people who are LGBT don't walk up to a crowd and say "Hi, I'm a gay person".  While being gay is an integral part of their identity, it doesn't define who they are, and it's not the first thing they put out there in the world.  They know that there are people who will hate them simply based on that fact if its' put straight out there in front, but that a lot more people will be accepting and loving toward them if they simply let the world get to know them as a whole person, sexual identity and all.

Autism is a major part of who I am.  It's involved in how I think, how I interact with people, how I react to the world around me.  I would never want to lose my autism, and I don't believe that it's even possible to do so.  However, I want people to get to know the whole me, with my autism and everything else involved, and I find that people are much more accepting of my differences when they're simply introduced to me as "Annika", not as "Autistic Annika".

My use of person-first language is aimed at fostering acceptance of Aspies and Autsies among neurotypicals, rather than making myself stand apart from everyone else.  I want to be included in the world and be a part of it rather than making myself into an "other", someone who can't be involved.

I'm not going to tell anyone else to use a particular type of language - even I slip up and refer to myself as an autistic person on occasion, but I'd really like to know how you feel.  Are you an autistic person or a person with autism?  Why?