Welcome to my Autistic Interior

stairs outside buildingIt’s great to be here. After a whole lot of time spent more or less in the dark, things are starting to make sense. This is where I try to fit it all together… out loud.

I’m a 51-year-old Aspie (self-identified in 1998, reconfirmed in 2008, finally officially diagnosed in 2016). I tend to be more autistic, the more extreme my physical symptoms are. When my physical symptoms are chilled out, I just register with most folks as a shy geek who has to be prompted to come out of my shell. I prefer to keep to myself, and I credit my self-sheltering with keeping me as sane and functional as I am. And I am.

I have a lot of sensory issues that I deal with each day — most of them invisible to the outside world, and not very well-understood by people not living in skin like mine. These range from heavy-duty vestibular upset… to daily tactile problems with fabrics, light sensitivity, and auditory problems (hearing too much or not enough)… to a weirdly irregular sense of smell… and so on.

I’ve been what some would call “autistic” for as long as I can remember, and it’s brought me a whole lot of pain and woe, so I’ve learned to conceal it with the best of ’em. I can’t see why my life should be limited by other people’s ignorance. It’s just not logical. So, I conceal my issues as best I can and “pretend to be normal” with the best of ’em (don’t we all do that, on some level?).

I’ve been in hiding — to the best of my ability — my entire life. And I have my concealment to thank for the fact that I’m living an ostensibly normal life. I have a job, a career, a spouse of more than 25 years, a house, a mortgage, two modest but reliable cars in the garage, a few friends, a great resume, a local political volunteer position, active interests… and so on. I’ve developed most of them in isolation, and I’ve trotted them out mainly when I’ve felt okay.

The idea of living my life in full view of everyone is extremely stressful, because of my past history of merciless bullying and teasing at the hands of friends and family and strangers alike. I tend to keep to myself, because stepping out into the outside world is not particularly safe for me.

Now, though, I have this blog where I can speak anonymously. I do feel it’s important to speak up about what it’s like to be autistic (or Aspergian) in the neurotypical / NT world. There’s just too much disinformation being spread around, and there’s just too much “intervention” being pursued that might not ultimately be that helpful. Some of it is outright hurtful.

My intention with this blog is to give Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome a(nother) voice that breaks the “mold” that the scientific and medical communities have formed around folks like me — visual thinkers with specific sensory / physiological issues, which result in peculiar behaviors that confuse and alarm people who aren’t like us.

I’m not a hazard to you, and my soul hasn’t been snatched by this “dread disease”. I’m actually a very “normal” person, if you disregard the things that make me highly atypical. But even the things that make me highly atypical equip me for life in this world in unique and significant ways, which help everyone around me — including NT folks who would just as soon have me go away.

For the record, I will not go away. I will not be put away. It’s happened too many times to people, just because they were stranger than their families, friends, and general practitioners could tolerate… and because they had needs they could not articulate adequately. What a shame, that one should be locked up, shot full of pharmaceutical concoctions, even subjected to electroshock, simply because tehy don’t primarily process concepts by typical means… That’s not going to happen to me.

So, welcome to my world — the Autistic Interior.

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