By Steve Katz, Executive Director, Aspies For Social Success
Autism acceptance means reaching out to people you may not agree with to change the narrative on what our community is.
By Steve Katz, Executive Director, Aspies For Social Success
Autism acceptance means reaching out to people you may not agree with to change the narrative on what our community is.
By Karl Wittig, PE
Advisory Board Chair
Aspies for Social Success (AFSS)
www.mhnews-autism.org AUTISM SPECTRUM NEWS ~ WINTER 2017
During all of the years since I was first diagnosed on the autism spectrum, support groups have been a constant part of my life in a variety of ways. Having attended, facilitated, and served in organizations that sponsored such groups, I came to appreciate their importance to those on the spectrum and to the autistic community as a whole. The first autism support groups were exclusively for parents and caregivers of individuals, mainly children, on the autism spectrum who were in what is today considered the most severely impaired population. As the definition of autism was expanded to include a wider range of impairments, support groups for those on the spectrum, particularly adults, began to appear. These were typically facilitated by parents and family members of autistics who were sympathetic to and had direct experience with their challenges. Other groups were run by professionals (psychologists, social workers, speech-language pathologists, etc.) who had expert knowledge of autism and were usually paid for their services. More recently, however, peer-run groups facilitated by people actually on the spectrum have also appeared. The challenges of living with autism are best understood by those who have actually done so their entire lives, making them especially qualified to lead such groups. Also, as these groups expand in size they form a “critical mass” of people whose minds work in a similar manner and are more likely to encounter the same difficulties in various aspects of their lives. This in turn can lead to the creation of communities for individuals who otherwise have none to speak of. When I was first diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in August of 2000 at the age of 44, the first thing I did after receiving the diagnosis was to seek out a local support group in New York that I had found through an online search (the means by which I initially self-diagnosed). Upon arriving at my first meeting, I found myself surrounded by others to whom I immediately
noticed uncanny similarities; these included atypical speech patterns, eye contact, mannerisms, and other behaviors. The experience was in many ways similar to that described by members of various racial and ethnic groups when they first visit their ancestral homelands and find a place dominated by people much like themselves. As I continued to attend this group, I found that, in every meeting, at least one thing (sometimes many) would be discussed that deeply resonated with my own life experiences;
these ranged from unusual personal occurrences, events, and interests to serious life challenges that I had in common with the person describing them. Although this group was first created and run by concerned family members of young people on the spectrum, the suggestion was eventually made that meetings should be facilitated by the Aspies who attended them. In this group, along with (independently) a few others throughout the U.S. (and possibly elsewhere), the notion of peer-run Aspie support was born. As more people were diagnosed, or suspected that they might be on the autism spectrum because of expanding media coverage, meeting attendance increased steadily. There was at least one support meeting every month, and each would center on a discussion topic of interest to adults living with autism. The best-attended were the ones dealing with dating and relationships as well as those concerning employment issues; other topics included disclosure and specialized interests, along with a wide variety of subjects. Also, when someone came to a meeting for the first time, they were given the opportunity to share about themselves and asked to describe their circumstances in regard to living situation (independent or otherwise), employment and occupation, and relationships. In 2003, a proposal was made to create a network of Aspie support groups throughout the U.S., and even abroad, of the kind that the New York group had evolved into. Thus was born the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP – www.grasp.org), whose founding I had a role in along with Michael John Carley (who served as its executive director for many years) and three other members of our group. Similar groups were formed, one by one, in various parts of the U.S. The New York group continued to thrive, and at times even played a role in enhancing public awareness about Asperger Syndrome and the autism spectrum. Meetings were actually featured in two documentaries (one of which was nationally broadcast on public television), filmed by a crew from Japanese television, and even visited by a major movie star (I am not kidding!) who was preparing to play the role of an autistic person on the screen. We also hosted a number of journalists as well as journalism students (print and radio) who helped to spread the message about autism and our community. The most significant aspect of support groups, however, lies in providing an environment where people on the spectrum can share about their issues and challenges among others who can appreciate them, and feel comfortable doing so. In particular, they are often the first place outside of a clinical setting where a newly-diagnosed autistic person can go. In 2009, after several years of regular attendance, I became a facilitator of the New York group, and did this for several years. Having no background whatsoever in psychology, medicine, or social services (I am an electronics engineer by education and profession), this was hardly a natural thing for me to do. Nevertheless, having lived a lifetime on the autism spectrum and come to understand its characteristics and challenges, I was able to be effective in that capacity; had I attempted this in any environment outside of the autism community, I am certain that I would have failed miserably. All of this convinced me
that there is no substitute for life experience when it comes to understanding and appreciating what it means to live on the spectrum. As such, an autistic person is in a unique position to facilitate a group for other autistics. Around this same time, a few enterprising members of the New York group decided to form a separate group that addressed the employment-related issues faced by so many in our community. After a while, however, its members realized that there was even greater interest in matters relating to socialization, to which the focus of the group was changed. Over time, the number of people attending this group continued to rise, which in turn helped foster a sense of community among Aspies in the New York area. Eventually, it evolved into a social group. Within a few years, anew organization emerged from the group,Aspies for Social Success (AFSS – www.nyautismcommunity.org). Its objective is to provide support and social groups, as well as cultural and recreational activities, for adults on the autism spectrum. Activities have included visits to museums, theatrical performances, films, renaissance festivals, and other events. These can cater to the specialized interests and preferences of Aspies, or else serve to broaden their cultural horizons (which can in turn help enlarge social circles). Socialization issues include getting along with others, being part of a group, meeting people, making friends, and finding and maintaining romantic relationships. As such, these constitute the most important challenges faced by many autistics because they are at the root of so many difficulties, most notably those concerning employment (the original focus of this group) and relationships. It is well-known that people on the autism spectrum have difficulties finding and keeping jobs mainly because of social deficits rather than lack of competence, poor attendance, theft, or other common workplace infractions. Another area of concern in the autism community involves matters of sexuality. One misconception that unfortunately is far too common (even among professionals) is that autistics are asexual and not interested in romantic relationships. While there may be a small minority of autistics for whom this is true, I can assure you that it is generally not the case. Based on my experiences over the years, I am convinced that autistics face essentially the same issues regarding sexuality as any other population; in other words, we are as a group no different from everyone else. Where we do have considerable difficulty, however, is in finding and maintaining relationships. It is here that social deficits can present significant and even formidable challenges. This is probably the one aspect of life where the ability to read nonverbal social cues and to discern hidden curricula, not to mention hidden agendas, is of greatest importance. Autistics who have deficits in these areas will inevitably be at a great disadvantage. All of these challenges are much easier to address in an environment where everyone has faced them, and Aspie support and social groups provide just this kind of environment. One problem that sometimes arises, however, is inappropriate behavior on the part of group members. There is a delicate balance between tolerance of such behaviors, the inappropriateness of which is either not understood or else an expression of anger at being mistreated and not accepted, while still maintaining an environment in which others are not made uncomfortable. These groups need to be a haven from the intolerance that Aspies so often encounter, but must also provide one in which they can all feel safe. Groups like these are desperately needed by our community. Given the large numbers of undiagnosed autistics, this need will only become greater as public awareness of autism continues to grow and more adults are diagnosed. Organizing groups for autistics can present substantial challenges to a population that, in spite of a few notable exceptions, is generally not well-suited to such activities. Just as we benefit from the assistance and services of autism professionals, family members, friends, and others not on the spectrum, we will need help with some aspects of organizing communities for our people. Nevertheless, we should try to do as much for ourselves as we can. There is still much to be done.
For more information, Karl may be contacted
See the full issue of ASN here: http://www.mhnews-autism.org/back_issues/ASN-Winter2017.pdf
Our mission statement says that we are working to build a more inclusive community and today creates the perfect opportunity to perpetuate that mission to include the greater community. As such a community, we need to reach out to anyone who is different in the way that they look, think, feel or communicate and let them know that we are all one human race.
Aspies For Social Success, AFSS
I have Asperger's syndrome. It is a high functioning form of autism. Here I would like to furnish a synopsis of my challenges, which are among other things a function of my neurologically ingrained mental rigidity, extreme obsessionality, and profound deficits in social and nonverbal learning ability. Here goes: For a person with Asperger's syndrome, it is possible to learn new social skills over time. But the learning disability itself is permanent. Social skills can gradually be developed, but only with time and effort. For a neurotypical person, these skills develop naturally in childhood. For an Aspie, social insights and awareness must be developed through intense observation and application of the intellect. For a neurotypical person, this process is effortless and organic, beginning in early childhood. We can intellectually grasp certain things that other people experience on an instinctive and felt level. We do not necessarily experience these things the same way they do. Like social ambition and the desire for ever higher social status, for example. We tend to be too preoccupied with our special interests to think about these things. Neurotypical children develop hierarchies and social cliques through observing each other, through imitating each other, and through play and competition. We Aspies, unable to keep up with the neurotypical kids, and uninterested in playing their Machiavellian games, tend to bury ourselves in our solitary special interests. Like cars, trains, maps, astronomy, computers, animals, etc. Many of us want friendships, and hate being isolated all the time. But the friendships have to be on our terms, because we don't play other people's "let's pretend" agreement games. And other people may not necessarily share our interests, or at least not as intensely as we do. And the gossip and scheming that neurotypicals tend to engage in doesn't interest us. So the neurotypical kids learn to conform, while we become more and more alienated and socially disenfranchised. Our limited social interaction with people turns us into loners and misfits. This haunts us all our lives, and hampers our ability to date members of the opposite sex, and find and hold onto jobs, throughout our lifetimes. Neurotypicals learn from childhood to hide their true intentions from one another, and to put on a socially acceptable and convincing persona. They maintain different personas under different circumstances. A man can have one persona at work, one at home with his wife and children, one at church, one with his drinking buddies at his local sports bar, etc. We Aspies tend not to be capable of such guile and sophistication. We tend to have only one social persona, and it may not always be an acceptable one for situations or environments like the workplace or in dating. Or we develop such a mask, but it fails under stress. Or it slips over time, as people get to know us better, and we start to feel too comfortable around them and start letting our guard down. That is how I lost the one job I ever had, which lasted a year. I tried to be a perfect employee. I never missed a day's work, never called in sick, and never failed to meet my production standards at my high pressure, fast paced data entry job. But I got too cozy with my supervisor, because he seemed like such a laid back, salt-of-the-earth guy. I was living alone in a strange city, far away from my parents. I had no friends, no one to open my mouth to, and no one who would even acknowledge my existence as a person. So I began approaching my immediate supervisor after work hours ended, late at night. I would chat with him for just a few minutes at a time, about things like 1970s music, cars, and popular culture. But I mistook the man'ssuperficial friendliness for friendship. I began to tell him weird jokes and make excessive self-disclosures about the bizarre workings of my autistic mind. It made him feel uncomfortable. He ultimately baited me into saying something grossly inappropriate, and had me fired. That was over fifteen years ago. I never recovered from the humiliation and the trauma. I never made a serious effort to find work again. And to this very day, ten waking minutes don't go by without me vividly reliving that trauma. Now I doubt I can ever hold a job. The traditional workplace is a hostile and alien environment for me. I cannot count on myself to create a smooth, socially confident, and socially appropriate persona, and to keep it on at all times, even under stress. I am also extremely emotionally needy, and that makes me vulnerable to becoming overly attached to people, and to keep the often bizarre landscape of my mind a well hidden secret. My neediness and social cluelessness has caused an endless litany of social and interpersonal failures and bad experiences in my lifetime, which I end up reliving every day. It sets me up for all manner of misunderstandings and confrontations, and for being a victim for bullying, manipulation, gaslighting, and scapegoating. It has progressed to the point where I have little desire to seek out neurotypicals to interact with at all. And of course, having by the age of 43 only asked a woman out on a date twice--and having been rejected both times--I will not take a chance on approaching another woman again, for fear of being rejected again and being further wounded. So I guess I'll have to die alone and a virgin. It was a hard thing to accept when I was younger, but I am at peace with it now. Such is the fate of many men with Asperger's syndrome.
What it takes to bring people together and build a community. It takes more than a village! It actually takes many villages and many people, accepting many points of view and finding common ground within the diversity that makes us who we are.
I invite everyone, whether you are on the Autism spectrum, have a, learning, developmental or, any other disability, or for any reason want to build a community of diversity and acceptance, to join the discussion.
Let’s find ways to collaborate in building a more inclusive community.
British mathematician Alan Turing, who devised a method of breaking the German Enigma code during World War II, revolutionized the field of cryptography, conceived the computer as we know it today, and literally invented the academic discipline of computer science, is the subject of the 2014 film The Imitation Game. Despite his essential contributions to the allied victory against Nazi Germany, his country repaid him with a prosecution for homosexuality that led to his suicide in 1954 at the age of 41. All of this is very well portrayed in the film, which will no doubt greatly increase awareness about a man whose accomplishments remained highly classified by the British government for many years after the war and as such were unknown to the general public. His contributions to computing were also not widely known to those outside the field, even though to this day a computer is referred to as a Turing machine in the academic specialty of computing theory, and a test for artificial intelligence in a computer is known as the Turing test.
Although his fame has increased over the years, with books such as Alan Turing: The Enigma (1983) by Andrew Hodges (upon which the film is based) and a number of documentaries (most recently Codebreaker in 2012), and he has been embraced as a hero by the gay community, it is rarely known that he is on the short list of historical figures about whom there is a strong consensus, among autism experts, of having been on the spectrum (along with inventor Nikola Tesla and pianist Glenn Gould). As such, I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw a number of unmistakable autistic traits exhibited in the film. Turing was portrayed, appropriately, by Benedict Cumberbatch, who is otherwise known for his role in the PBS series Sherlock as an Aspie-like modern-day version of the famous detective. Although no explicit mention was made of autism (which was not yet known at the time the film takes place in), a number of behaviors that we in the AS community will immediately recognize were very well depicted. I was particularly struck by the childhood scene where the young Turing, while eating a meal, insisted on strictly separating the peas and carrots on his plate because “they must not be allowed to touch”. He is also shown being bullied by his classmates, displaying social awkwardness in his later youth, and demonstrating very poor social skills (possibly to the point of exaggeration) throughout much of the film. Our community should seize upon the success of this film as an opportunity (one of the best since Rain Man in 1988) to increase public awareness about the autism spectrum in general, about the contributions made to society by so many on it, and about a historically significant figure to whom we all owe a great debt of gratitude and who was most probably autistic.
One discrepancy that I noticed in the film is that the Manchester police is depicted as aggressively investigating Turing’s clandestine homosexual encounters, when in fact he is known to have been more open about his sexual orientation than he should have been, not realizing the danger he was putting himself in. As such, he is actually believed to have voluntarily admitted, to the policeman investigating a robbery that he reported, that he had the encounter for which he was subsequently arrested and prosecuted. This is the kind of thing that Aspies have long been known to often do, in many cases to their detriment.
What is most disturbing to me, however, is that while the gay community has taken every opportunity to claim and celebrate Alan Turing (as well it should), our own AS community has done virtually nothing in this regard. Once again, I see the film as an opportunity to correct this oversight. In 2012, I had the opportunity to attend the New York premiere screening of the documentary Codebreaker. The film was introduced by a speaker from a local gay rights organization who reminded us that, whenever we enjoy the benefits of the modern computer age, we should all remember to “thank a gay”. In the conversation between the filmmakers and the audience that followed the screening, I pointed out that Turing was widely believed by experts to have been on the autism spectrum, and asked if this was ever examined during the making of the film. I learned that they had indeed been aware of this and even considered addressing it in the documentary, but decided not to do so because there was no real proof of Turing’s autism and as such it was too controversial. This to me was very disappointing, although I cannot really fault the filmmakers for their decision under the circumstances.
I would like to see an initiative, on the part of prominent autism experts and scholars, to conduct a historical investigation of the life, particularly the early childhood, of Alan Turing and attempt to find the most convincing possible evidence that he actually was on the autism spectrum. This would give our community the justification that we need to properly embrace him as one of ours (although we would do well to not emulate his social skills!). Furthermore, few people would ever suggest that Turing’s sexual orientation in any way either hindered or helped him accomplish what he did. If he in fact was on the spectrum, however, the well-known ability of Aspies to single-mindedly focus on a specialized interest and our tendency to disregard social considerations would certainly have helped him in his codebreaking work at Bletchley Park, from which humanity so greatly benefitted.
While there is no question that Turing died a martyr for gay rights, I believe that the case can be made to consider him a martyr for neurodiversity as well. Whenever we use our computers, study computer science (as more than a few Aspies, including myself, have done), contemplate the prospects of artificial intelligence, or simply enjoy living in a world free from the tyranny of Nazism, we should all remember to THANK AN ASPIE! An excerpt of this article appeared in On The Spectrum, the publication of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism (AHA) Association.
The Imitation Game received eight Academy Awards nominations for 2014, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch, along with five Golden Globes, nine BAFTA (British Academy Awards), and three Screen Actors Guild nominations. At the 87th Oscars in 2015, it won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Screenwriter Graham Moore, who gave what was considered the most powerful and moving speech of the evening, told of his suicide attempt at age 16 because he “felt weird and different and like he did not belong”. While he was not specific about the nature of his difference, it turns out that Moore had struggled with depression in his youth. This led him to identify with Turing and write the screenplay. He also encouraged young people to “stay weird and stay different”. These are feelings that most Aspies have had at one time or another, if not throughout their whole lives. A video of Graham Moore’s acceptance speech can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbNJq90t0Wk.
A New York Times review of the film can be found at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/28/movies/the-imitation-game-stars-benedict-cumberbatch.html. A more controversial article in The New York Review of Books, which is very critical of the film’s historical inaccuracies (including his naïve openness about his gay lifestyle), can be found at http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2014/12/19/poor-imitation-alan-turing/.
Here in the U.S., people often speak of the “American Dream”. It is presented as something that we should all strive for. As an autistic, however, I have come to realize that, to me at least, much of what it represents is for the most part irrelevant. After all, so many of the things that we are told we should want are at best of no interest to me and even downright aversive. Although, truth be told, It was my good fortune to have done very well for myself, I also came to realize that my life has been defined more by my autism than just about anything else. I thus offer an alternative for our community – a different perspective that I refer to as the Autistic Dream.
In the support group for adults on the autism spectrum that I facilitate in New York City, we typically welcome a newcomer by asking them to tell the group a few things about themselves, and in particular ask them three things: their living situation (i.e., do they live independently), their employment situation, and their relationship status. These are the three areas that, as everyone in the autism community well knows, present the greatest challenges for so many of our people. At the same time, they constitute some of the most basic things that everyone needs if they hope to live a meaningful, satisfying and even happy life. I propose that, for someone on the autism spectrum, these are the basic components of the Autistic Dream.
In my own life, the Autistic Dream first manifested itself towards the end of my college career when I decided that I wanted to be financially self-sufficient and live independently. I was raised in a very tight-knit immigrant family that had always been overly protective of me, and I knew that I desperately wanted to live my own life. As an undiagnosed autistic, however, I did not realize how challenging it could be to attain these goals. It is possible that this lack of knowledge may actually have helped me – since I did not know what I was up against, I had no apprehensions about doing what needed to be done in order to get what I wanted. It also helped to have had a lot of good luck.
A prerequisite of living independently is to have a source of income; in our society, that usually means having a job. Employment of course is a major area of challenge for many autistics because of the social aspects of getting a job (i.e., interviews) and of keeping one (getting along with co-workers and bosses, internal politics, etc.) rather than any lack of ability or integrity. At the same time, many of us are not necessarily motivated by the same rewards as the vast majority of people and for which employers expect us to strive.
I was very fortunate in that I had prepared for a career that was directly tied to my lifelong special interests and abilities. When I decided that I wanted to have my own place, however, I became primarily concerned with the attainment of that goal. Consequently, I changed my academic path towards a degree program that was geared primarily for immediate employment upon completion. It was entirely a matter of luck that the job market in my field, which had been stagnant for several years, opened up shortly before my graduation. Still, in spite of my strong academic record, I have had very few job offers over the course of my career as an electronics engineer and most were in research and development laboratories – interestingly enough, an environment in which personal eccentricity was tolerated and even commonplace; consequently, my autistic issues were not nearly as much of a problem as they might have been elsewhere. Finally, I never had the desire to become a manager, which is the typical and expected career path for most professionals. Career advancement is usually considered an important part of the “American Dream”, but for me it seemed like everything that I did not want (organizational politics, constantly dealing with people, obligatory luncheons, dress requirements, etc.). I therefore made it a point to not pursue it and even actively avoided any such promotion. This was a very good career move for me indeed, as I realized some two decades later (after my diagnosis) when I learned that many autistic professionals are typically fired about six months after they become managers. Instead, I was able to have a respectable career that, while less than stellar in the conventional sense, lasted over 28 years. I was even able to “fit in” reasonably well and actually enjoy the company of many of my co-workers; it was only after my diagnosis that I understood why I had felt so much satisfaction from such a basic level of socialization. In short, I have lived the Autistic Dream of gainful employment.
As to living independently, it requires a number of basic skills that many autistics are challenged by. It is here where we often confront a world that expects such things to come very easily, especially for someone who has any kind of special ability or skill as so many of our people do. This is doubly frustrating because it means that we need to not only conquer the challenges themselves but also live up to these expectations without the benefit of any allowances or accommodations for things that may actually be much more difficult for us than anyone can appreciate. Equally frustrating is the attitude we may encounter, when we successfully meet some of these challenges and display excitement over doing so, of minimizing and even trivializing what have in fact been hard-won victories of which we are justifiably proud.
I resolved to immediately move into my own apartment the moment I became employed. I especially resented the suggestion, popular at the time and followed by many of my contemporaries, of living at home for a year or two in order to save some money; in other words, I really wanted this. Some of the most difficult things for me to learn were very basic skills such as buying my own clothes (to this day I have never understood why everybody seems to enjoy this so much). This was particularly challenging because it involved learning about both style and fit, not to mention that I have clothing sensitivity issues as do many autistics. Learning to drive a car was also a formidable challenge for me (as for numerous autistics), although living in a city with good public transportation made this less important. I nevertheless managed to overcome these challenges, at least well enough to meet my basic needs, and acquired the skills that I needed to live on my own. As to food, I have extremely severe selective eating issues (essentially, I eat like a twelve year old), which makes my life easier as I never learned to cook. Also, by not spending very much on food (even when I frequently eat out) or clothing, and by staying in the same apartment for many years, I was able to save enough money that, when my career was abruptly ended by the changing global economy, I was actually able to retire. This is in contrast with the consumerism and conspicuous consumption that are tied to the “American Dream” – it is not that I was depriving myself of the “good things” in life, it is that at the very least I had no desire for many of these things and in some cases (especially with food and clothing) I actually had aversions to them. Once again, it was only after my diagnosis that I understood why for many years I had been so proud of my simple little studio apartment in Greenwich Village and why I had felt so great a sense of accomplishment from the attainment of such basic skills. Once again, I have lived the Autistic Dream of independent living.
Finally, as to human relationships, I consider them in the broader categories of communities, friendships and, of course, romantic and sexual relationships. These probably present the greatest challenges, among our three areas, for most autistics. Autism by definition is a condition in which socialization and communication skills are impaired, and this inevitably creates difficulties where interpersonal relationships are concerned. This is especially true in our modern society, where human interactions have become exceedingly complicated. Although autism clearly affects our ability to form relationships, this does not imply – contrary to some common misconceptions – that we are not interested in such. In fact, many autistics are every bit as interested in being accepted by their communities and having friends as well as, yes, romantic and sexual partners as anyone, if not even more so (especially when one considers that so many of us have been outcasts from various communities). Yet again, however, we often experience the frustration of people not appreciating the difficulties that we face with skills that, for the overwhelming majority, are naturally and instinctively acquired and which are essential in an area that many if not most people regard as the most important part of their lives.
Over the course of many years and with the development of numerous coping skills and mechanisms, I was able to have some semblance of a social life (at least part of the time). I also had two significant if unconventional relationships – my late wife of 20 years was some 18 years older than myself and had spent 14 years as a Dominican sister in a convent, and my girlfriend of 8 years (who also subsequently passed away) was 8 years older and an independent scholar with a psychiatric disability (and very possibly an undiagnosed autistic, although I will probably never know). Most recently, the autism community has served as the first real one that I ever experienced, and it was only after my diagnosis that I came to appreciate the importance of such. Although in this whole area I quite frankly would have wanted more, I have nevertheless lived the Autistic Dream of having relationships.
In conclusion, we as autistics have our own unusual and atypical needs and wants, which are often at variance with those of the vast majority of people. At the same time, we also want some of the same things that everyone else does. If we are to live the lives that we want on our own terms, we need to stop trying to live according to the dictates, standards, desires, or wishes of others and instead be allowed and even encouraged to pursue the things that are truly important to us. Our community needs to support our efforts in this regard, so that, to the greatest extent possible, we are all able to live the Autistic Dream. Although there are still some things that I wish even for myself, and certainly many that I wish for our community as a whole, I can at the very least say that I was able to live the Autistic Dream, and for this if nothing else I can always be grateful.
An abridged print-form version of this article appeared in On The Spectrum, the publication of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism (AHA) Association.
I am the color blind chameleon that sees the world for its true colors.
As my mind’s eye wanders and wonders, I ponder the cognitive dissonance of the worlds so called reality.
.The true colors, sounds smells and sensations of the world, at times invigorate me, and yet other times, over stimulate me.
I am the color blind Chameleon; show me YOUR true colors!