If you’ve read my About page, you know that I’m Autistic. I have Asperger’s Syndrome, and even though the American Psychiatric Association Powers That Be, in their infinite wisdom, actually decided to lump the diagnosis in with Autism Spectrum Disorder recently, I refuse to conform. I still say I have Asperger’s, and I don’t care what they call it.
Asperger’s Syndrome is the only form of Autism that is genetic. (Thank you, one or both of my birth parents!) As such, both of my children have also been diagnosed, (though they don’t like to make it public, so please don’t tell on me for blabbing).
I waited until the last day of April to publicize this particular post, because I feel that it’s important that people don’t just think about this neurobiological condition for thirty days a year during Autism Awareness Month in April. Unfortunately, if Autism doesn’t directly affect you or someone you know, you may not have a clue just how it works. As such, I’d like to share just a few quick facts about Autism that many people don’t know before I get to my last poem of the month:
1. Just because Autistic people may not seem like they are aware of your feelings doesn’t mean that we don’t get hurt feelings. In fact, our feelings may be hurt more easily, all though you may never know it because we’re unable to voice it.
2. It’s a fact that people with Autism are more susceptible to digestive problems as well as food allergies. So, while you might think we’re just being picky, it could very well be that our bodies know we’re actually going to have an adverse reaction to the food.
3. We are slaves to our brains. While you can simply refocus or turn off your thoughts, we likely cannot. Even the act of falling asleep at night is often difficult for us because our brains don’t shut down. Ever.
4. We are slaves to routines. So, even when something that should be fun (like a vacation or Christmas morning) occurs, it is likely a great source of stress to us because it’s different than what we’re used to.
5. We are hyper-sensitive. While you may not even notice the tag in your shirt, we are tactile sensitive, and the same tag can feel like needles poking us (though actually poking us with a needle may not bother us at all). While you may only notice the taste of food, we notice the texture, and that may be the reason we don’t like something. And while you may feel that people are talking at a reasonable level, to us, it may sound like screaming.
So, although I could go on and on (and on and on) about living with this special brain, I will spare you. I just wanted to let you who are unaware have a little glimpse of the goings-on inside the Autistic brain. And now, on to my last poem of Poetry Appreciation Month…
By: Rachel Carrera
April was the month
For Autism Awareness;
Those of us who are diagnosed
Know its unfairness.
It’s like our brains are separated
With some kind of schism,
Those of us who have to
Deal with Autism.
I thought my diagnosis
Would be my bane
Until I learned how to live
With my special brain.
So instead of something in my head
That’s unable to connect,
My Asperger’s Syndrome is now
Something that I accept.
But assigning one month for Autism
Awareness is just wrong;
People should be aware
Of it all the yearlong.