I really do not like this approach to autism that claims we’re not disabled. Yes, we may have some different abilities that neurotypicals lack but that doesn’t make us not disabled.
I remember how I used to work for that company in Warsaw, where two blind ladies also worked. They were updating company database calling prospective clients just to check their contact details. They were working kind of on the side of what the rest of us was doing, I never seen them taking part in our staff meetings and I don’t remember I was formally introduced to them (not very inclusive, is it?). I never spoke to any of them, before the event that I’m about to mention.
One day, maybe 10 days into my employment, I was making coffee in the hallway where the kettle was and one of that ladies was also there. There was no other staff around and I wasn’t saying anything. I doubt I even knew that lady name.
‘So, Magda, how do you like the job?’ – she suddenly asked. I was so shocked and didn’t understand how she knew it was me. It was telemarketing company and loads of staff were there with a couple of people starting every week and then leaving. I could understand she would be able to recognise my voice as I was based in the same room as her but as I already explained I wasn’t saying anything. Yet, she knew it was me. But that didn’t make her not disabled. She could do something that I would never be able to achieve, yet, she was still blind.
So possibly there’s the same situation with autism: yes, we can spot patterns more easily than other people but we ignore individual events that can be equally important.
When I was younger and a friend betrayed me I didn’t see it as a reason to finish the friendship. I saw it as isolated incident that hurt me but was not enough to draw any conclusion. Even if it happened more than once it still didn’t make sense to me. She was such a good friend six months ago, a year, two years…
Even now I can still do this: I need to see the pattern before I react. And the closer I am with someone the bigger the pattern has to be. During the time I observe the situation that person makes me doubt myself and loose my confidence.
I misinterpret other people intentions and they misinterpret mine. I’m being told I need to think in a different way and not make connections between the facts in the way that I do. I want to make more friends and I can’t find them. I want to be heard and understood and it never happens, not even when I talk to autism researchers (psychologists and counsellors are really not even worth mentioning here).
I put myself into trouble hoping to achieve something worthwhile and instead I’m ending up in psychiatric hospital (like in Home Group example).
Yet, some people love claiming that’s not disability. If it’s not then what is?
That’s why, I guess, I so value my relationship with my psychiatric nurse. She seems to be this person who gets me, somehow. Maybe I should ask her if I’m disabled or not? But then, if I wasn’t, she wouldn’t have me on her books, would she? But I could still ask just to see what she will say.
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