I think of Polly a lot and as it is coming near to a year since she has passed and autism awareness month. I think of the valuable and human lessons she taught me and other advocates who keenly listened and understood not only her perspective on the matter but her overall out look and ethos.
Autistic Person? Or Person With Autism?
I think when I was born and all that was around me that I wasn’t fully aware of yet, the people, trees, the buildings, the modern world, the natural world. I think of cladding and chosen identities and when comes to defining a person by one aspect of themselves. I often wonder and worry about what that means. If we see everything as the “autism” from the moment one gets up to the moment one goes to bed what is left?
Cannot we see the other aspects the mould a person such as the environment they live in? The personality types they have? The mental health conditions? Their sense of identity? (other than being “autistic”) And their learning styles?
If we are addressing “autism” surely we should be looking at the bigger picture rather than tired and easily digested rhetoric such as “all autistic’s are logical, literal thinkers” or “all autistic’s have special interests” not taking into account the broader perspective on neurological and biological aspects, the social emotional aspects and very specific wants and needs of that person themselves and/or their families and loved ones.
An “Autistic Mind”? Or a “Human Mind?
Last time I checked there is no such thing as a mind cannot have be clear cut as “autistic” and “non-autistic” many aspects to do with information processing can have an impact on presentation. Such as a person with social-emotional agnosia not being able to read body language, facial expression and/or tone of voice, aphasia and being able to express and/or retrieve words and apraxia with living in a body that doesn’t obey its commands of the “owner”.
Personality types in human beings regardless of autism effect the presentation of the person such as being solitary and a preference for being alone, idiosyncratic and not confirming to the cultural and social expectations and conscientious and wanting logic, linear thought and perfection to name but a few.
If we ditch the rhetoric, the cash-cows, the money makers, the politics and get to what is “real” then that is the greatest and most honest foundation of them all. True empowerment is knowing what something is and working from there not making things up to suit the make-shift package you want to “sell” to people. I think there is nothing wrong with showing the example of just “getting on with one’s life” as the greatest one.
I am not famous, “special” or “unique” words like that scare me. It puts me on some invisible pedestal that quite rightly I don’t deserve nor want to be on. 😉
Paul Isaacs 2018