I have always been different. Some of the things I do are subtle and not noticeable. Other habits and quirks I have are quite apparent to those around me.
Any way you look at it, I am unique. I am not typical.
As a young girl, I often played alone. I didn’t fit social norms and I was frequently left on the sidelines of life. Growing up I felt disconnected and misunderstood. In addition to my social awkwardness, I had numerous rituals I performed regularly. I liked, and still like, order. My relationships with friends never lasted very long. It was, at times, a bleak existence.
My parents were never thrilled with, what they considered to be, my character flaws.
They wanted me to act normal. They wanted me to fit in with my peers. They wanted me to stop annoying them. They constantly corrected my behaviors. The problem was, I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I was just being myself. I didn’t know how to change into the type of person my parents wanted me to be. I watched other girls my age. I watched TV shows that portrayed similar age characters. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t figure out how to act the “right” way.
My social failures were a huge disappointment for my parents.
They ridiculed me, called me names and they even let my younger sister put me down. Then finally after years of disappointing them, they were convinced I had a mental illness. Surely the only thing that would make me not be the person they envisioned was a mental health problem. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not making fun of mental health. I struggle with depression and anxiety. I understand what it is like to struggle with mental health issues.
In my particular case my parents thought that if I saw a psychiatrist, I could be “normal.” In their minds, someone needed to fix me. Surely a shrink would see that I wasn’t your normal teenager. Obviously there had to be some type of medication that would normalize my weirdness. They sent me to counselors, psychologists and a psychiatrist, but none of them could repair my broken behaviors.
The next logical step was medication. As you might have already predicted, there was not (and still isn’t) a medication available to make me a typical perky teen.
My parents were disappointed to the point of abuse.
They verbally and emotionally abused me day in and day out. I guess in some dark corner of their minds they thought that if they broke me down, maybe they could make me into the perfect daughter. Of course, abuse didn’t change any of my behaviors. That’s because I am autistic. Autism is not a mental illness that can be fixed or cured by a pill. No amount of medication or money spent on mental health professionals made me their kind of normal. Let me say, once again, that there should absolutely be no stigma attached to mental illness.
Let me also state that a person should not be stigmatized for being autistic.
I don’t want or need a cure for my autism. I don’t want anyone to fix my daughters with autism. I want our community, country and world to accept autism. I want people to stop looking for cures and potions to rid the world of autism.
We have more to offer than society can imagine.
Think of what kind of world it would be if we stopped being negative about autism. What if we looked at autism as an asset and not a dirty word that should only be whispered in polite conversations. Imagine the possibilities.
If you liked this post, you may also like: