Autism Awareness Week: Day 3 – Newt Scamander amongst others

The third report from my sister about her experiences as an autistic person, in aid of #AutismAwarenessWeek 2020.

Disclaimer

Views expressed by this autistic may or may not reflect the views of other autistics. Every autistic is unique. I do not seek to dictate to anyone how they should think. That is not the autistic way. We do tend to be in favour of free expression and free will, providing nobody is being hurt. There is no intention of offending or distressing you. “I did not get where I am today by” wanting to be the same as everybody else. Yes, I realised I was different, but that did not result in me wanting to mimic as some autistics do. My family accepted me as I was and did not put pressure on me to change. The way to earn the respect, trust and loyalty of an autistic is to let them be what they are. Some do want to fit in; others do not. I have never had the mindset of King Louie. I might not be a good fit for this world or society, but I enjoy being completely my own person. If you watch a film where the outcast becomes super popular at the end, that is not my ambition in life. I would much rather follow the lead of Newt Scamander from “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, who is basically the Chris Packham of the wizarding world. I don’t know if he is intended to be autistic, but he is one of the best adult representations I have seen. Yes, he does find a friend and a girlfriend because that is usually how the formula goes, but he remains true to himself. He has discovered what he wants to do with his life and is happy to remain unpopular. He does not change to fit in. He is my kind of hero and I try to follow his example.
Rowena

“Do you know why I admire you, Newt? … You do not seek power or popularity. You simply ask is the thing right in itself?”
Dumbledore

Newt cares about creatures and protecting them is his life’s goal. However, he also cares about humans, although they often rub him the wrong way. It is fair to say that he isn’t well-versed in polite conversation, but he is loyal to those who look past that.

“We’re going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They are currently in alien terrain, surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet. Humans.”
Newt

I like to pretend to be Newt’s apprentice if I need to overcome my reluctance to do something annoying, but necessary. (Like making a phone call to a certain place that shall remain nameless.) I have a pen that looks like Newt’s wand and a couple of Nifflers, plus Pickett. I also wore my “evil” T-shirt with Jason and Freddy on. I like watching horror because I can empathise with either the victim or the monster, depending on my mood. Some monsters are just misunderstood. If you deliberately go to Camp Blood and provoke Jason who just wants a quiet life, then frankly, I have no pity for you. Jason was disabled and he was bullied. He drowned while nobody was watching. He was resurrected by the Spirit of the Lake and lived in the woods as an outcast, only to see his mother killed. I can’t really blame him if he has a grudge against the whole of humanity. (Maybe – I used my imagination.) You don’t have to stop using your imagination just because you are an adult. I do not care what society thinks about it. Society has always been a pain in the bum for those who dare to be different either through choice or because they were born disabled in some way. I have little patience for the “hidden social rules” that constantly trip autistics up. There are “mimics/maskers” who blend in; but that is their choice and they are motivated to do so. Other autistics are keener on being true to themselves and are less motivated. I am one of those, although I do try to be polite. Usually, this means I don’t say very much though. I am a writer; not a talker.

Is It Okay?”

I do not personally approve of April Fools’ Day because I do not often find pranks, teasing or banter to be very funny, especially if directed at a vulnerable person. I do not easily distinguish between friendly banter and bullying, unless it is on a comedy show such as “The Last Leg” or if I know you well. (Bear in mind, even if I know you well, this is not a guarantee that I will recognise it as friendly, especially if I am tired or not in the right frame of mind to appreciate the difference.) You can not know how much stress we might already have experienced. If we explode in your face, that usually just means that YOU were the final straw. Autistics often repress their anger in order to be more pleasing to you. It is perhaps unfortunate that banter is considered to be part of “normal” conversation. If you attempt it and get silence, it could be because we have no idea how to respond; it could be that we are biting our tongue; it could be that we are processing and trying to think of a comeback that won’t be interpreted as “rude” or “defensive” or one of the multitude of ways non-autistics choose to wrongly interpret us. Just try to remember that we might not be communicating at the same level. Just remember that.

Assume makes an ass of you and me.”

I chuckled in response to this, when told it at the Bolton ASC after-diagnosis course, proving that I do have a sense of humour. I just laugh when I find something genuinely amusing. Social laughter for the sake of socialness is not something I do. It just distracts from the conversation. We are all human. We do not need to prove that. Some autistics prefer companionable silence to shallow conversation. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I was never willingly social as a child, never willingly social as a teenager and I am not willingly social as an adult. Conversation is only satisfying if everyone is speaking the same language at the same level. Autistics seem to have their own hidden rules of communication and manners. For despite the myths, autistics care about manners. I have the manners that I was taught as a child. Once we have successfully been taught a rule, we don’t tend to break it, at least not on purpose. Why is modern society so rude? (I blame the internet.)

Goodbye and please try to be kind and polite. If in doubt, ask; NEVER ASSUME!

Autism awareness logo

Autism Awareness Week: Day Two – Such Fun!

Disclaimer

Views expressed by this autistic may or may not reflect the views of other autistics. They are based on my personal experiences which may or may not reflect the experiences of other autistics. Views are not intended to distress or offend. Please be respectful of each other at this vulnerable time. Please practice patience and understanding. Everybody is unique and everybody deserves to be heard and valued. Everybody is doing what they can. Let all past grievances be put aside. This might not be the crisis that we were expecting to be dealing with in the UK, but I do believe that this might be the one to remind us that we are all human and that love is always stronger than intolerance. If we work together, we can get through this. Keep hope alive for a better future.
Rowena
(Autism advocate)

Autistics can be creative in many ways. Some of us write poetry. Here is one of mine.

If You Can…

If you can hold your tongue while all about you are waggling theirs;
If you can lose yourself within the magic pages of a book you hold dear;
If you can hug a well-worn bear in the sanctuary of your room day or night;
If you can find yourself within a cartoon beast of moral character;
If you can show compassion for those who are like you and those who are not;
If you can weep alone for the world that is dying and yet while there is life, there is hope;
If you can make a stand for what is right and not be swayed;
If you can choose the path of thorns;
If you can spread your tattered wings;
If you can be yourself, no matter what;
Then you’ll be the brave autistic soul that you are.

(With thanks to Rudyard Kipling for his poem, “If.”)

“Would You Like to See?”

One of my favourite autistic Youtubers has also composed a poem.

This is so beautiful and heart-felt. Not all autistics would feel comfortable talking to a camera or sharing their vulnerability, but professional Youtubers have learned the skills to do so. They are a vital source of encouragement and education.

Here is a video that a group of autistic Youtubers have put together on behalf of “The National Autistic Society” for spreading awareness to the public.

Goodbye and keep being kind.

Autism awareness logo

Autism Awareness Week: Day 1 – Fee Fie Foe Fun!

My sister Rowena does not have a blog of her own and has no desire to run one. Nevertheless she is an excellent writer and for #AutismAwarenessWeek she is writing a series of pieces about being autistic and has invited me to share them with people who might be interested.
Gareth

Disclaimer

Views expressed by this autistic may or may not reflect the views of other autistics. This is my personal perspective from my personal experience. I do not have the experience of being a parent and I have never formed friendships or been in a relationship. Do not feel pity for me. I genuinely prefer my own company, even though there are people who I like to spend time with. This year is being unusually brutal, but it is not the isolation that is giving me trouble. Introverts, autistic or not, are likely to have built up better coping skills and I am hoping to share some of those with you. I cannot guarantee that my idea of fun will be your idea of fun, but you never know. I think it is important for anyone, introverted or extroverted, child or adult, male or female “etc. etc. and so forth” to be able to entertain themselves, by themselves. It is vital for everybody’s mental health, especially at a time of crisis. There is no wrong or right way of coping. I will be giving honest perspectives that are not intended to offend or distress you. Since this is Autism Awareness Week, there may be an educational segment. We shall see. Thank you for reading this and please feel free to share with your friends, if you think they might be entertained or interested.
Rowena (Autistic Advocate & “Mute”)

Fee Fie Foe Fun!

Here are some ideas for having fun on your own.

  • Read or listen to a book. (I prefer a “proper” book with pages!)
  • Watch something. (What you want to watch via DVD or other means.)
  • I visit a site where I can play trivia games. (I’m a mine of information.)
  • Make a list of whatever you fancy making a list of. (All my books!)
  • Play a board game with yourself. (For prizes!)
  • Puzzle Books (Dot 2 Dot is my favourite.)
  • Computer Games (Hidden Object quests & Matching relax my brain.)
  • Drawing (I hand-make cards for my family.)
  • Create interesting meals. (Mix cereals together at breakfast time.)

“Would You Like to See?”

The best cartoon aimed at autistics and their families is currently “Pablo” which is about the imagination of an autistic boy who is sensitive and rarely speaks. He has support from his Mum, his Grandmother and other relatives, but he likes to solve problems for himself with the aid of the Book Animals. Pablo has a room full of cuddly animals, just like mine. When he is anxious, he draws pictures and interacts with them. This is when the program turns into a cartoon. The beginning and end are live-action. Noa is a nervous dinosaur, Draff the giraffe is obsessed with facts, Mouse does not like loud noises, Wren sings and flaps, Tang the orangutan is always active and Llama repeats phrases. Each one symbolises an autistic trait. Problems that autistics face in daily lives are addressed in a sensitive manner. The messages are always positive and there are autistic actors involved. I am glad that our voices are starting to be heard.

Here is a link to the title sequence for Season 1.

I hope that this show can help reduce the stigma attached to autism. There have also been positive representations in “Sesame Street” and “Arthur,” so I am pleased that today’s autistic children, who grow to be autistic adults, will have something to relate to. I am from a less enlightened time, but I still managed to find avatars for myself. I did not know that I was autistic, but I definitely did know that I was different. I was not diagnosed until my 40’s. I am positive about autism and believe that a diagnosis does help some autistics to understand and accept themselves. It all depends on the individual. It is definitely not all doom and gloom and the best people to teach you about autism are autistics themselves.

Goodbye and take care of each other and most importantly, Be Kind.