Autistic and Proud?

How to get into the meat of a new blog when its purpose hasn’t quite jelled yet? How about doing what I so often do: take what neurotypicals would call a negative position. I’m almost always in opposition to something or other, it seems, so why not tackle the issue of pride?

When someone says they’re (fill in the blank) and proud of it, I wonder what they mean. Autistic and proud? I understand that on a purely intellectual level. But feel it? Nope. It’s one of those concepts that has never clicked with me. I am what I am and that’s all there is to it. Pride as a rejection of shame I can understand. Pride in accomplishment I can understand. But when it comes to my own feelings, both are abstractions. I can’t even say my lack of gut-level understanding is an aspie thing because the person whose blog post inspired this one is an aspie, a popular writer, and proud of being autistic, as are many individuals on the autism spectrum.

I recently came back around to an interest in autism and Asperger’s after a years-long burnout on the subject, so people like Samantha Craft are new to me. Her statements remind me once again of that old saying, in its autistic variation: when you’ve seen one autistic, you’ve seen one autistic. Or: when you’ve seen one aspie, you’ve seen one aspie. We can’t use our own state of being as a template for everyone else. We may overlap in many areas, but remain distinct in our own versions of selfhood. I bought her book, Everyday Asperger’s, and chucked it halfway through. There was nothing wrong with it, but it didn’t speak to me, except for a short section early on.

Sam says: “I am pleased to be part of a unit. I no longer feel like a lonely floating piece of a missing whole.” The concept of being part of a unit evokes something close to horror in me. I may be a floating piece, but alone, not lonely, and certainly not in the context of some missing whole. For all the things in which she finds pride, I would substitute words like satisfaction, enjoyment, or gratitude. There’s a whole range of vocabulary out there that would fit me better than pride.

What do I feel when a novel I’ve labored over is finished and available for people to buy? Pride? No. Satisfaction that my skills keep improving. Relief that the darn thing is finally out of my hair. Hope that it might sell a few copies, and that readers will enjoy it.

Maybe I’m defective even by aspie standards. Or maybe I’m just more analytical about how I function at deep levels. After all, I’m a writer. If I’m going to obsess, it will always be about something that further clarifies what it means to be human, whether on the autistic spectrum or as a member of the neurologically dominant segment of the human species. So my current obsession, for however long it lasts, is with the role of autism, and particularly, high-functioning Asperger’s, in creativity. And, since I’m a writer, the focus will be on writing.

Along the way, whether specifically or by implication, I’ll also be writing about, and illustrating, aspects of a particular type of Asperger’s mind that aren’t well-known or understood. Are they rare? Or are they so submerged in the more usual ways of looking at Asperger’s that they are invisible even to the people who possess them?

Consider this blog an exploration, complete with stops and starts, false moves, lots of uncertainty, and occasional gleams of light.


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