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credburn
Jun 22, 2016


Something like fifteen years ago someone on this forum made an ask/tell thing about autism. I can't remember much of it, only thinking it was kind of interesting, and I remember there was that fellow whose online handle was something like ullululuul and he having autism. I could relate in a lot of ways to these two, except I wasn't autistic.

Whoops fifteen years later actually turns out I have autism and it explains a LOT of my life. Since my diagnosis like two years ago (I'm 35 now) I've recontextualized my entire life, and I feel I have a somewhat handy perspective on life as a "high-functioning person with autism" (or Aspergers, but both that term and "high functioning" aren't really acceptable anymore. For the sake of helping anyone understand, though, I'll just use them. They do a better job of illustrating a person's capacity for autonomy and executive function than the more politically-correct replacement terms do. I think for a little while, we're going to be in a nomenclature limbo until we can find a fun way to say "low functioning." because I spent 33 years not knowing I was autistic and trying god drat loving hard to be "normal." I have at times, like a drunken chameleon, fit in around the normies around me, and other times now. But I've lived on both sides, and have two different perspectives on what an autistic person is. I say all that because I think that gives me a unique advantage in understanding how to convey some of the nuances of autism with someone who is neuro-typical and perhaps does not really "get" autism.

Soanyway. Ask me whatever. I'm happy to share what I can; it is therapeutic for me, too, as discussions like this I imagine can in turn help me better understand how I am perceived or how others might feel toward someone like me.

Oh, one more disclaimer: autism is a spectrum, right? On one side of it you have cool dudes like Anthony Hopkins and, I don't know, Beethoven probably, who can utilize autistic superpowers to propel them into greatness. But on the other side of the spectrum there are people who can't speak, who can't walk, who live in a wheelchair and drool and will never experience life beyond that. My own experiences are unique to me, but I suspect there are many facets that have a much wider application. One might suppose I fall somewhere around the middle - I'm certainly not what one would call "low functioning," but at the same time, I'm so awkward and anxious and puzzled by the world around me that a lot of the time it feels like I'm just two really big mistakes from ending up in a situation where I need someone to look after me. Anyway, it's kind of like asking a black guy what it's like being black. His experiences aren't going to be representative of all black people, but maybe a lot of them, and as a white guy I sure as poo poo don't know what it's like.

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lllllllllllllllllll
Feb 28, 2010

Now the scene's lighting is perfect!


How did and do you feel about SA's and the internet's general use of the word autistic as narrow-minded and obviously ignoring the human/emotional aspect of something?

How do you look to others when you're under stress, what do they see?

cinnamon rollout
Jun 12, 2001

The early bird gets the worm


Do you have an opinion on early intervention therapy, do you wish you had it, are you glad you didn't?

credburn
Jun 22, 2016


lllllllllllllllllll posted:

How did and do you feel about SA's and the internet's general use of the word autistic as narrow-minded and obviously ignoring the human/emotional aspect of something?

How do you look to others when you're under stress, what do they see?

I think the use of the word as a pejorative or at best an ignorant generalization is about as problematic as any other word or phrase, but I don't personally take much offense to it. Autistic people have not endured the social stigmas and struggles homosexuals, trans people, people of color, etc. have had to, so I feel like there's also a lot less consequences of this kind of continued ignorance. If someone calls me a "sperg" or something like that, I'm more likely to laugh than take offense.

Last year I had been put on Adderall to help get my ADHD under control. It didn't work, and in fact caused me to become a horrible anxious monster -- I'm not violent, and the idea of me being violent is something so absurd that it can be funny, but at the worst of that time on Adderall I felt like I was just one snide comment away from punching my boss in the throat and throwing a table through a window. Anyway -- that's only relevant to tell you this part: last year I was under extreme stress and anxiety for almost a full twelve months, and so my girlfriend had made lots of observations about how I handle my own stress.

A lot of autistic people "stim," which is a kind of repeated motion or action that helps one focus and regain control of themselves and their surroundings. Neurotypical people do this as well, but it's not nearly as pronounced -- for autistic people, it is sometimes the only thing that they can grab hold of to keep grounded. It's like a singular light in a dark tunnel, something that they can aim for and move toward even if nothing else around them makes sense. My own form of stimming is finding patterns, which is usually in the form of ratios between trees, say, or odd-numbered distribution of cans on an aisle, so I can locate the middle and divide it into different symmetrical sizes in my head. Mostly it's busywork so that everything around me doesn't sound like a blown-out speaker turned up to 15, and so the lights don't bleed out so much that I can't see anything. My girlfriend says when I'm under a lot of stress, I just disappear. I become very isolated and I stop talking and I only answer in single-word responses, or maybe two if it absolutely requires it. I start shaking, and then I go into a weird autopilot where I (badly) mimic the gestures and expressions I see other people do, because all I can think about when I'm anxious like that is that I don't want to look weird, and I don't want to embarrass my partner, and I don't want to ruin anything, so just look normal look normal look normal, all the while I can't speak and am frantically looking around for patterns.

My cousin is very autistic, and as with many autistic people he often doesn't go anywhere or do much unless he's wearing his headphones. I don't know about his stimming, but he deals with stress by playing video game music so loudly that he can't hear anything else, and then he just closes out the world. I guess we're similar in that way, but in my case my hearing becomes very sensitive when I'm stressed. I mentioned that stereo-turned-up-to-15 thing; it really is accurate in conveying what it is like to comparing it to a blown out speaker. Sounds around me literally just become scratchy, tearing chaos.

Autism Speaks is, I think, the largest autism advocate group, but they're also very controversial because they have been accused of removing the human aspect from the condition. There is a large division in the autism community as to how we identify ourselves, whether we are "people with autism" or "autistic people." The former is my preference, because I regard autism as I might diabetes. It's just something I have. But others feel much more strongly connected to the autism as being part of their identify. Autism Speaks only recently started using the latter phrasing.

cinnamon rollout posted:

Do you have an opinion on early intervention therapy, do you wish you had it, are you glad you didn't?

Overall, I think it's hard to really have an opinion on the therapy as a general idea. Both autism and the therapy have such broad ranges that weighing the pros and cons would be difficult. But I guess for me, in regards to "high functioning" autistic people, therapy would probably have really helped me have an early understanding of social interaction. I was not diagnosed until really really recently and have otherwise spent my life just feeling like I don't "get it." It's rather like trying to read a book your whole life and not understanding it, only to find out it's not even in a language you speak. Well, I mean, kind of like that, in a way.

I'm not intellectually deficient or even delayed; I have not passed a school year since 6th grade, and generally stopped going around the 8th grade and officially dropped out in my sophomore year in high school. Almost everything I know I've either taught myself or learned by reading about it, or observing others, or looking it up. I'm not more or less intelligent than I think is expected of one my age, but I learn in a way that makes the standard school curriculum frustrating. They put me in a lot of advanced classes thinking I was especially smart, but then I would fail those classes. They would also put me in remedial classes, wherein I also failed.

So when I think of early intervention therapy, or at least the parts I've read about, it seems like it could have benefited me, because it would have at least calibrated me in some way for how the world works. It could have given me a head start, instead of spending so many years stumbling through it, being told I'm just not applying myself. But then most of this also I think would be more dependent on an early diagnosis.

credburn fucked around with this message at 10:22 on Oct 6, 2019

AngryRobotsInc
Aug 2, 2011




Autism Speaks is controversial for many more reasons than "removing the human aspect". Things like their "I Am Autism" video. Putting a lot of support into anti-vaccine research (to their credit, they have reversed from this position). One of their staff members, on recording, and in the presence of her child, saying she had contemplated driving off a cliff with said child. Questions about their spending of funds. For the longest time not having any adults with autism in leadership roles. On and on.

Autism Speaks portrays autism as basically a death sentence to quality of life, marriages, everything. They make no difference between the levels the spectrum can come in. They suck for a lot of reasons.

codswallop
Dec 26, 2012

BABIES EVERYWHERE!


I've got a brother close in age who was diagnosed at the same stage as you. High functioning autism wasn't on anyone's radar when he was growing up so all his quirks just got sublimated into "that's just Gary's personality."

It means nowadays I make friends with certain guys really easily, because there's something easy and familiar about hanging out with them, like slipping on an old comfy shoe. It's never until they confess they've been diagnosed or that they think they should be diagnosed that I realise it's those autistic traits I'm picking up on: the tones and rhythms of their voices, that deliberateness in choosing to make eye contact when talking, a certain rigidity, a welling enthusiasm for the nitty gritty details of their current obsessions.

My data's skewed because I hang out in nerdy circles, but there's a surprising minority of mostly men in our generation in a similar position to yours. His kids have been diagnosed as having inherited his autism so it'll be interesting to see what difference early years intervention will make. His eldest has these quirks that remind me of his father...

E: I realised I didn't even ask you a question! How difficult do you find it making eye contact with other people when talking? Now Gary's been diagnosed he's relaxed about trying to cover up his autistic traits, so he doesn't bother making eye contact with family other than this kids any more.

codswallop fucked around with this message at 18:26 on Oct 6, 2019

credburn
Jun 22, 2016


AngryRobotsInc posted:

Autism Speaks is controversial for many more reasons than "removing the human aspect". Things like their "I Am Autism" video. Putting a lot of support into anti-vaccine research (to their credit, they have reversed from this position). One of their staff members, on recording, and in the presence of her child, saying she had contemplated driving off a cliff with said child. Questions about their spending of funds. For the longest time not having any adults with autism in leadership roles. On and on.

Autism Speaks portrays autism as basically a death sentence to quality of life, marriages, everything. They make no difference between the levels the spectrum can come in. They suck for a lot of reasons.

I never really delved into the details of Autism Speaks. I had no idea they were for a while anti-vaccine? That's so bananas. My impression, from hanging around autistic people (my cousins, attending a few local autism gatherings, and lurking on subreddits) the opinion of Autism Speaks is generally pretty poor, which is especially frustrating since they are the largest and most well known and recognized organization associated with autism. Personally, as a kind of general ambition of getting rid of autism, I support, which itself is a kind of controversial view. I know there's never going to be a "cure," at least in that nobody's going to give me a shot and make it go away. But ending the problem of kids being born as low-functioning autistic people is, I think, worth looking into, right? It's not going to lead to mass forced sterilization or whatever.


codswallop posted:

I've got a brother close in age who was diagnosed at the same stage as you. High functioning autism wasn't on anyone's radar when he was growing up so all his quirks just got sublimated into "that's just Gary's personality."

It means nowadays I make friends with certain guys really easily, because there's something easy and familiar about hanging out with them, like slipping on an old comfy shoe. It's never until they confess they've been diagnosed or that they think they should be diagnosed that I realise it's those autistic traits I'm picking up on: the tones and rhythms of their voices, that deliberateness in choosing to make eye contact when talking, a certain rigidity, a welling enthusiasm for the nitty gritty details of their current obsessions.

My data's skewed because I hang out in nerdy circles, but there's a surprising minority of mostly men in our generation in a similar position to yours. His kids have been diagnosed as having inherited his autism so it'll be interesting to see what difference early years intervention will make. His eldest has these quirks that remind me of his father...

E: I realised I didn't even ask you a question! How difficult do you find it making eye contact with other people when talking? Now Gary's been diagnosed he's relaxed about trying to cover up his autistic traits, so he doesn't bother making eye contact with family other than this kids any more.

When I was growing up, my cousin was pretty obviously autistic. As I said, he is somewhere probably just above the high-functioning/low-functioning threshold. But I grew up in a redneck, ignorant kind of place, and in the early to mid 90s, autism was not well understood. So I went undiagnosed largely, I think, because my cousin is so much more obvious and so people probably identified what he had as the example of autism, whereas I would just be considered, you know, quirky.

Eye contact sucks and I hate it. I practice really hard at maintaining it during conversation, but sometimes my focus is so centered on that that I lose track of what the other person is saying. The more anxious I am, the harder it is. When I make eye contact, I feel like I'm suddenly on a perfectly even.... what is the word? It's like the person I'm speaking with and myself are exactly equal in terms of social position, mutual respect, all that. And it's like a secret battle of attrition. Each second I feel weaker and weaker, and smaller, like I'm being judged, and I feel like my ability to think creatively or maintain an awareness of my surroundings diminishes. I have to give up eye contact briefly to reset myself, and try to pretend like I'm not being overwhelmed by judgment and criticism.

lllllllllllllllllll
Feb 28, 2010

Now the scene's lighting is perfect!


Thanks, appreciate the elaborate response.

Cephas
May 11, 2009

Shape Shift With Me


What do you think about those behaviorist programs for kids with autism? The ones that will do something like have a kid do a page of homework without behaving in a way deemed inappropriate in exchange for a reward of some kind (candy, 10 minutes of tablet video game or something).

I have a friend who used to work in that field so i've always been curious. Some folks online hold a very strong opinion that it's forcing kids with autism to behave in ways that don't come naturally to them and is dehumanizing, but the internet tends to be hyperbolic to the extreme so it's hard to tell how much of that argument is in good faith--I've seen people compare it to training circus animals for instance, which is a really extreme comparison for something that is intended to decrease the kid's stress in social situations. My friend (who is an applied behavior analyst) and her husband (a psychiatrist) are obviously very in favor of establishment views of things.

But I wonder if it's true that it's teaching kids "you have to behave how I want you to or else you won't get what you want" rather than giving them actual adaptive skills that make it easier to navigate social situations. I know you said you didn't have this sort of thing growing up yourself but I'm curious if you have an opinion on it

codswallop
Dec 26, 2012

BABIES EVERYWHERE!


credburn posted:

Eye contact sucks and I hate it. I practice really hard at maintaining it during conversation, but sometimes my focus is so centered on that that I lose track of what the other person is saying. The more anxious I am, the harder it is. When I make eye contact, I feel like I'm suddenly on a perfectly even.... what is the word? It's like the person I'm speaking with and myself are exactly equal in terms of social position, mutual respect, all that. And it's like a secret battle of attrition. Each second I feel weaker and weaker, and smaller, like I'm being judged, and I feel like my ability to think creatively or maintain an awareness of my surroundings diminishes. I have to give up eye contact briefly to reset myself, and try to pretend like I'm not being overwhelmed by judgment and criticism.

I didn't realise it was such an intense experience! I'm poo poo at remembering to make eye contact myself, since I picked up bad habits from Gary and our likely-autistic father, but it's never been an aversion for me.

And thank you for making the effort through all that struggle. Even when it's a little glance before you disengage your eyes again, it's a real clear and appreciated visual signal that you're engaged.

lllllllllllllllllll
Feb 28, 2010

Now the scene's lighting is perfect!


I heard that if you look at the space between the eyes or the tip of the nose it is not as stressful and the other guy won't notice anyway. Perhaps that helps a bit.

AngryRobotsInc
Aug 2, 2011




Cephas posted:

What do you think about those behaviorist programs for kids with autism? The ones that will do something like have a kid do a page of homework without behaving in a way deemed inappropriate in exchange for a reward of some kind (candy, 10 minutes of tablet video game or something).

I have a friend who used to work in that field so i've always been curious. Some folks online hold a very strong opinion that it's forcing kids with autism to behave in ways that don't come naturally to them and is dehumanizing, but the internet tends to be hyperbolic to the extreme so it's hard to tell how much of that argument is in good faith--I've seen people compare it to training circus animals for instance, which is a really extreme comparison for something that is intended to decrease the kid's stress in social situations. My friend (who is an applied behavior analyst) and her husband (a psychiatrist) are obviously very in favor of establishment views of things.

But I wonder if it's true that it's teaching kids "you have to behave how I want you to or else you won't get what you want" rather than giving them actual adaptive skills that make it easier to navigate social situations. I know you said you didn't have this sort of thing growing up yourself but I'm curious if you have an opinion on it

I'm on the spectrum, and my son is as well. He's more severely affected than I am.

Anyway, we've had to use methods like that with him, because it was the only thing that got through to him, and the behavior we were trying to modify was legitimately dangerous. Before he got in a special autism specific schooling program, he learned that taking a swing at a teacher or other staff member got him exactly what he wanted, which was to be sent home. Once he got in the program, which didn't send him home just for that, his behavior started escalating, and getting more and more violent. Punching, kicking, throwing any furniture he could lift, elopement from the classroom (this was not violent, but still dangerous), etc. Nothing else worked. And multiple strategies were tried. It took "You go a day without trying to punch a teacher in the face, you get video game time" to start making a dent.

I can see both sides of the argument. It really shouldn't be used for things like nonviolent stimming. But if that's all that gets through for actually dangerous behavior? Have at it.

That's another thing though. I often see people who say that all stimming should just be left alone, it's fine, just leave them be. And I think they only think that stimming is hand flapping, rocking in place, that sort of thing. And it is for me. But stimming can be bad too. My son's, when he was younger? Self-harming. He bit his hands and arms hard enough to almost break skin. And slammed his face into walls. So occasionally those sort of behaviors absolutely do have to be controlled, and redirected or otherwise minimized, because of the danger they can present to the person and the people around them.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013


AngryRobotsInc posted:

Autism Speaks is controversial for many more reasons than "removing the human aspect". Things like their "I Am Autism" video. Putting a lot of support into anti-vaccine research (to their credit, they have reversed from this position). One of their staff members, on recording, and in the presence of her child, saying she had contemplated driving off a cliff with said child. Questions about their spending of funds. For the longest time not having any adults with autism in leadership roles. On and on.

Autism Speaks portrays autism as basically a death sentence to quality of life, marriages, everything. They make no difference between the levels the spectrum can come in. They suck for a lot of reasons.

They have had adult autistic people in leadership positions. It's just that every single one has ended up leaving the organization, disavowing it, and stating on the record that they were treated more as a mascot and a talisman to use to try and ward off criticism of the organization's actions and general hostility towards autistic people who aren't cute kids or trying to act neurotypical.

Combined with everything else, it's a whole parade of red flags.

Gantolandon
Aug 19, 2012



Cephas posted:


I have a friend who used to work in that field so i've always been curious. Some folks online hold a very strong opinion that it's forcing kids with autism to behave in ways that don't come naturally to them and is dehumanizing, but the internet tends to be hyperbolic to the extreme so it's hard to tell how much of that argument is in good faith--I've seen people compare it to training circus animals for instance, which is a really extreme comparison for something that is intended to decrease the kid's stress in social situations. My friend (who is an applied behavior analyst) and her husband (a psychiatrist) are obviously very in favor of establishment views of things.

It really depends how intensive it is and what behaviors it tries to suppress or promote. The common complaint is that it teaches kids how to pretend to be neurotypical without addressing the core issue or even care about their well-being. If an autistic child is trained not to show their discomfort, in their adult life saying "no" will be very hard for them (which will make them easier to abuse). Stamping out completely harmless stimming will have negative consequences, because stimming is a method to regulate sensory input, especially in stressful or overwhelming situations. Of course, if your child self-harms, a behavioral therapy can be useful – but too many of them focus on getting a child that behaves exactly like a neurotypical one.

Lucky Greedo
Feb 14, 2012

At last, he held the throat of his beater.

credburn posted:

Eye contact sucks and I hate it. I practice really hard at maintaining it during conversation, but sometimes my focus is so centered on that that I lose track of what the other person is saying. The more anxious I am, the harder it is. When I make eye contact, I feel like I'm suddenly on a perfectly even.... what is the word? It's like the person I'm speaking with and myself are exactly equal in terms of social position, mutual respect, all that. And it's like a secret battle of attrition. Each second I feel weaker and weaker, and smaller, like I'm being judged, and I feel like my ability to think creatively or maintain an awareness of my surroundings diminishes. I have to give up eye contact briefly to reset myself, and try to pretend like I'm not being overwhelmed by judgment and criticism.



It's shocking to read something that describes my feelings so well. I hate eye contact, and I also hate that by not making it I'm hurting a fair few people or making them uncomfortable, and it's part of the reason why being around people who don't know I'm on the spectrum is so unspeakably awful. It's a real barrier to one on one interaction for me, and I can't make or meet with friends unless we're in a group of three or more so someone can take the pressure off me from time to time.

credburn
Jun 22, 2016


AngryRobotsInc posted:

That's another thing though. I often see people who say that all stimming should just be left alone, it's fine, just leave them be. And I think they only think that stimming is hand flapping, rocking in place, that sort of thing. And it is for me. But stimming can be bad too. My son's, when he was younger? Self-harming. He bit his hands and arms hard enough to almost break skin. And slammed his face into walls. So occasionally those sort of behaviors absolutely do have to be controlled, and redirected or otherwise minimized, because of the danger they can present to the person and the people around them.

Now that I think about it -- I'm 35 -- all my life I've bit my nails. I've bit them so much that an infection caused one finger to swell up to the size of like almost a golf ball and since then the nail grows in three directions and I have to keep it short or it digs into my skin. Anyway, I usually never noticed I was biting them, but I sure bit them when I was nervous. I couldn't stop; it was a stress reliever. So, recently, a doctor put my on Vyvanse, which is like an ADD medication. I made a conscious decision to stop biting my nails around the same time, and unlike the thousands of times I've tried before, this time I stopped. So maybe it was my way of stimming (which now that I write this, it sure seems like it) and ADD meds helped me not need it so much?

How did you help your son transition from that kind of behavior? Or is it still something he struggles with?

Cephas posted:

What do you think about those behaviorist programs for kids with autism? The ones that will do something like have a kid do a page of homework without behaving in a way deemed inappropriate in exchange for a reward of some kind (candy, 10 minutes of tablet video game or something).

I have a friend who used to work in that field so i've always been curious. Some folks online hold a very strong opinion that it's forcing kids with autism to behave in ways that don't come naturally to them and is dehumanizing, but the internet tends to be hyperbolic to the extreme so it's hard to tell how much of that argument is in good faith--I've seen people compare it to training circus animals for instance, which is a really extreme comparison for something that is intended to decrease the kid's stress in social situations. My friend (who is an applied behavior analyst) and her husband (a psychiatrist) are obviously very in favor of establishment views of things.

But I wonder if it's true that it's teaching kids "you have to behave how I want you to or else you won't get what you want" rather than giving them actual adaptive skills that make it easier to navigate social situations. I know you said you didn't have this sort of thing growing up yourself but I'm curious if you have an opinion on it

Gosh, that really does seem like something I would need to be more educated and involved in that field to really establish an opinion. But if I put myself in that position, say, I can imagine there being some problems. Like, for instance, the promise of a reward establishes a pattern that, probably because of the reward, would become aggressively conditioned into my uhh... my psyche? That kind of behavior, especially if it's kept up over time, would bleed into many like-activities, say, like maybe just stressful or arduous tasks, and then when those did not net some kind of reward, it would cause some kind of rift, like this feeling of -- like that "glitch in the Matrix" feel. But then when it happens again, and again, and again as things do, it would become a disgusting feeling like I've been misled or hypnotized my entire life. Patterns are extremely easy to establish for me, and I believe it's a common traits with autistic people. So just by that alone, I would lean toward helping one learn more adaptive behavior. However, not all autistic people can achieve a level of proficiency in it that would help them adjust their behavior or thought processes in the way they want, and the stress of trying to adapt and unable to do so seems awful in itself. So I guess the obvious answer would be that such methods would best be decided on a very specialized, individual way. But I don't necessarily feel one practice or the other is problematic.

Sorry I didn't answer your questions sooner; I forgot about a video game convention I was heading out of town for. Speaking of autism, holy smokes that place had to have had at least a third of its visitors on the spectrum.

AngryRobotsInc
Aug 2, 2011




credburn posted:

How did you help your son transition from that kind of behavior? Or is it still something he struggles with?

He was on Abilify for several years to minimize the behavior, and had therapy to help deal with the stressors that caused that particular manifestation of stimming. He's been off Abilify for a while, and is pretty good about asking to remove himself from a situation if it is starting to become overwhelming for him. He still occasionally hits himself in the face, but is far less violent towards himself than when he was younger.

Honestly, even then, therapy only helped but so much. It certainly helped lessen the behaviors, but they were still there. What really seems to have helped is, weirdly enough, puberty (he's 15). As he started aging into that whole rodeo, it was like a switch was flipped for a lot of things, that therapy had been slowly minimizing before that. He was able to wean off Adderall (he also has ADHD), trying to fist fight teachers stopped being a weekly thing (which was still a lot less than multiple times every day), doesn't try to pull a runner from his classroom every day, so on and so forth.

credburn
Jun 22, 2016


I was on Adderall for almost a year and I feel it's just by luck and timing that I never punched anyone or destroyed anything expensive. That stuff turned me into a raging, starving monster.

Dance Officer
May 4, 2017

It would be awesome if we could dance!


lllllllllllllllllll posted:

How did and do you feel about SA's and the internet's general use of the word autistic as narrow-minded and obviously ignoring the human/emotional aspect of something?

How do you look to others when you're under stress, what do they see?

The colloquial use of the term isn't wrong and typically focuses on the lack of social ability, strong habits and resistance to change and obsessive behaviour. The problem is that most of the autistic people you're likely to meet are high functioning, and it's very likely you've met a bunch of them without ever realizing they were. There's also false positives to consider, people can be socially challenged or maladjusted for different reasons, a lot of normal people will fight you tooth and nail for trying to change things, and in my experience the obsessive behaviour is different from what most people thing. Less "ooh, have to make perfectly identical" and more "painstakingly order your toys from smallest to biggest" or "know all the serial numbers of the planes at a given airforce base, and which squadron they're attached to."

Do I think this really matters, though? I'm divided on it. On the one hand, the prejudgement can be very real. I've been treated like a goddamn imbecile on several occasions after I told people that I'm autistic, I've been told by "friends" and family that my opinion doesn't matter because I'm autistic.

On the other hand, because the understanding of autism is normally childish at best, I can function in society just fine, without anyone realizing. And I prefer to keep it that way, because of the above.

credburn
Jun 22, 2016


I want to share an anecdote. A friend of mine was recently diagnosed, but it took like two months of regular visits to a neuropsychologist in order to get that diagnosis, whereas I was diagnosed after only two three-hour visits. She is -- maybe obviously, given the pronoun -- female, and as I understand it's harder to diagnose women because they tend to present in a much more subtle way. In any case, she finds that emojis (because I'm reluctant to change, I still call them "emoticons" and have to erase it every time) are extremely useful for helping others understand what she is trying to say. However, emojis are almost universally useless for me.

My diagnosis focused a lot on facial expressions. Now, anyone who looks at, say, knows it is an angry little yellow guy. A frown, angry eyebrows, I get it. However, she recently sent me this emoji: This thing makes absolutely no sense to me. Since I am so bad at broad expression interpretation, I have to break down individual features, but this little guy is all kinds of chaotic. First, the mouth. It's a semi-circle, flat on top, arch at the bottom, generally a symbol of happiness. It's a soft smile, though, so not like, ecstatic, but happy. It's kind of lazy, though, really relaxed, so maybe it's a breath, like a sigh. Move up to the eyes, which are closed. They're angled downward, a soft droop, suggesting contentedness, peacefulness, sleeping, relaxing. Combined with the soft mouth, I perceive this as sleeping. The eyebrows, raised up, but not in a furrow, so it's not angry and it's not confused. Those eyebrows appear on a surprised face, but this face is not surprised. It looks relaxed. So given all the evidence and what I know about individual expression, this emoji depicts someone asleep.

No, she says. She just meant she was really happy to hear about something.

I've often heard that one of the biggest tells of an autistic person is that they have trouble understanding and translating body language and facial expressions. This is very true for me, and I hope that maybe my breakdown of the thought process that I have to go through helps convey this seemingly simple (I mean, it seems really really simple to me, even though I can't grasp it) thing that babies don't even have trouble with. Of course, this is my personal experience, and I can't say if it's like that for everyone, but maybe it is for many?

TOOT BOOT
May 25, 2010



Soiled Meat

That is ambiguous but I probably would have guessed some kind of happiness rather than sleep.

Gantolandon
Aug 19, 2012



I would say it's an expression of relief. The face looks like sighing or breathing after some exertion.

For me, faces are difficult, but not impossible to decipher. Two main problems are that I rarely remember to look at them often enough, and that observing them makes conversations for me much more tiresome. And when I'm tired, I pretty much forget about faces and start talking to people while looking at the floor, walls, the table or anything interesting enough.

credburn
Jun 22, 2016


There are a lot of other emojis -- and other symbols, gestures, expressions -- that I struggle with, not necessarily because I can't interpret them, but rather than there are multiple interpretations possible. Like, oh, for instance... okay, so, memes are useless to me; a decade and more ago, when the Internet felt a lot smaller, we used "image macros" on these forums, which are basically what would later be called memes (and honestly I never really knew why we called them image macros) and I was on board with all that because I was embedded in the SA culture and it was our thing. But I understood them because I was in on the jokes. But now I see memes on Facebook and I don't really understand them, and I think it's because I'm just not in on the joke. I don't watch television, I can't watch most YouTube channels because the rapid no-dead-air choppy editing causes me incredible discomfort, I don't really do reddit or uh... you know, tumblr or whatever. Basically I'm a little out of the loop, unless it pertains to early 2000s somethingawful or 90s cartoons. So when I see a meme pop up, and I don't get it, I think that it's just referencing something I know nothing about. But -- okay, I'm getting off track. The example I want to bring up is one of Michael Jackson eating popcorn. I think you've seen it; it's not uncommon. And when I see it, I just have no idea what is supposed to be conveyed. When I think of Michael Jackson, these are the things I know of him, kind of in order of significance:

1) Extremely prolific pop star
2) Pedophile
3) Weird face and behavior and controversy

So, okay, given that, I read the meme as:

1) I see Michael Jackson eating popcorn. I'm thinking the gif is from the Thriller music video but I'm not positive. Alright, so to break it down, I see Michael Jackson eating popcorn. He's excited. This has little to do with him being a popstar, unless the gif is in direct response to something referencing either Thriller or a monster movie or something scary, and it's like, hey, remember when Michael Jackson did Thriller?

2) Michael Jackson was a pedophile who molested lots of kids on his creepy ranch. Pedophiles watch child pornography, or at least spend a lot of time watching children. There are movies that feature children. Michael Jackson is depicted here watching a movie -- is it child porn? Is he being a creep in a threater?

3) Not much to really go on with the third example.

But here's a fourth interpretation: It has nothing to do with Michael Jackson at all. It's just a guy eating popcorn. It's probably a way of saying, "you said something dumb and now lots of people are going to jump on you about it and it's kind of like an excited guy in a theater eating popcorn really excited to see something bananas happen." This is actually what my girlfriend told me, and turns out actually that was the case in this particular example. But why Michael Jackson? The FIRST thing I see is Michael Jackson, not some random guy eating popcorn at a theater.

Anything that can be interpreted in many ways, wherein I observe these things outside of a relatively small, self-contained group like somethingawful just baffle me and bring me to a state of indecision that overloads me and often leaves me kind of just standing there, like a robot who has conflicting orders. I can often tell when someone is being sarcastic, but only if they really lean heavily on that kind of sarcasm-inflection. If they say it deadpan, even if it's absurd, I can't convince myself that they MIGHT be telling the truth. Also: rhetorical questions. Not only are they really dumb rhetorical devices, but they also leave me in a sort of stupor, because it's essentially sarcasm. "Do you WANT to catch a cold?" my mother would say as I try to leave the house without a coat. Obviously, I guess, the answer is no, but she must know that, so why is she asking me? Why doesn't she just tell me to put on my coat? Is she actually waiting for an answer? "ANSWER ME!" she shouts. Well, gently caress, I guess she is. Argh.

credburn fucked around with this message at 11:07 on Oct 24, 2019

dirby
Sep 21, 2004


Fun Shoe

Thanks for sharing. I think to some extent the interpretation struggles you have are felt by a lot of people, but you have greater than average difficulty deciphering things, plus more...emotional difficulty(?) when you can't decipher something. Like, if I have trouble guessing the intent of something like that Michael Jackson image, I hope later context will clarify and won't lose sleep if it doesnt.

credburn posted:

"Do you WANT to catch a cold?" my mother would say as I try to leave the house without a coat. Obviously, I guess, the answer is no, but she must know that, so why is she asking me? Why doesn't she just tell me to put on my coat? Is she actually waiting for an answer? "ANSWER ME!" she shouts. Well, gently caress, I guess she is. Argh.
I wonder if learning about Pragmatics (the subfield of Linguistics) could be useful to you, as it's in part about teasing out the logic here. The first step you already did, which is to recognize that she must know the answer to the literal question is "no". But that also affects the likely intended meaning of "answer me!". Your mom doesn't want the answer she already knows, she wants something else. In this case, she wants you to verbally acknowledge and address her concern that you will catch a cold without a coat.

As an aside, image macros were so called because by invoking them with small snippets of text like [img-timeline], you were running (something like) a computer macro to auto replace that text with an image.

underage at the vape shop
May 11, 2011

by Cyrano4747


Op thank you for sharing that. I knew about the struggles you talked about on a surface level, but as a (somewhat) neurotypical I never really understood.

With memes though, it's definitely a case of needing to know the injoke like you did with old-school macros. Stuff like deep-fried memes or that Lord farquad E meme make absolutely 0 sense to me, and I'm a 24 year old extremely online neurotypical.

My question is how have you found dealing with the health system? I am trans and I've seen people compare the trans experience to the autism experience a lot. Most doctors have absolutely no idea and I need to educate myself to make sure I'm getting the best hormone treatment. I've had to educate even good doctors on language. There's almost absolutely 0 research as well and it's to the point that the anecdotal body of evidence of trans people is worth more than the scientific one especially because it's not coloured by prejudice. The comparisons Ive seen have always been pretty surface level, if you're okay to talk about that stuff I'd be interested in hearing what your experience has been like

AngryRobotsInc
Aug 2, 2011




lllllllllllllllllll posted:

How did and do you feel about SA's and the internet's general use of the word autistic as narrow-minded and obviously ignoring the human/emotional aspect of something?

I missed this, but I'll answer it too.

I have never liked it. It's just another step on the euphemism treadmill of legitimate conditions becoming perjoratives. Moron, cretin, imbecile, and idiot were all once genuine terms for people with intellectual disabilities, then they started being used offensively. So they were replaced with mentally retarded. They started losing their sting, and retarded/retard took their place as the offensive term of the day. Now people are acknowledging that calling someone a retard is kind a dick thing to do, and autism/autistic and the one I especially hate, autist are taking its place, even though the condition really has little to do with intellectual disabilities, besides often being comorbid with them.

Dance Officer
May 4, 2017

It would be awesome if we could dance!


underage at the vape shop posted:

My question is how have you found dealing with the health system? I am trans and I've seen people compare the trans experience to the autism experience a lot. Most doctors have absolutely no idea and I need to educate myself to make sure I'm getting the best hormone treatment. I've had to educate even good doctors on language. There's almost absolutely 0 research as well and it's to the point that the anecdotal body of evidence of trans people is worth more than the scientific one especially because it's not coloured by prejudice. The comparisons Ive seen have always been pretty surface level, if you're okay to talk about that stuff I'd be interested in hearing what your experience has been like

I'm from the Netherlands, so my answer might not apply to you.

I got my diagnosis while I was in the mental health system for depression and panic disorder. Most of the clinical staff didn't know about autism. I only got found out when I got into a group led by a psychologist, who had specialized in autists.

For my diagnosis and further help, there was a separate clinic for autists and ADD/ADHD. And as it might imply, the people working there knew their stuff. As far as I'm aware, this is how things are typically arranged in my country.

Gantolandon
Aug 19, 2012



underage at the vape shop posted:

.
My question is how have you found dealing with the health system? I am trans and I've seen people compare the trans experience to the autism experience a lot. Most doctors have absolutely no idea and I need to educate myself to make sure I'm getting the best hormone treatment. I've had to educate even good doctors on language. There's almost absolutely 0 research as well and it's to the point that the anecdotal body of evidence of trans people is worth more than the scientific one especially because it's not coloured by prejudice. The comparisons Ive seen have always been pretty surface level, if you're okay to talk about that stuff I'd be interested in hearing what your experience has been like

When I was 22, a therapist convinced me I can't possibly have autism and diagnosed me with some personality disorder that didn't quite fit. I was convinced that I'm neurotypical for 10 years and finally got my diagnosis because my parents convinced me to give it another try and get my diagnosis in a clinic that actually deals with autistic children and adults. So yeah, when mental health is concerned, it's better to be careful who do you consult.

credburn
Jun 22, 2016


dirby posted:

Thanks for sharing. I think to some extent the interpretation struggles you have are felt by a lot of people, but you have greater than average difficulty deciphering things, plus more...emotional difficulty(?) when you can't decipher something. Like, if I have trouble guessing the intent of something like that Michael Jackson image, I hope later context will clarify and won't lose sleep if it doesnt.

I wonder if learning about Pragmatics (the subfield of Linguistics) could be useful to you, as it's in part about teasing out the logic here. The first step you already did, which is to recognize that she must know the answer to the literal question is "no". But that also affects the likely intended meaning of "answer me!". Your mom doesn't want the answer she already knows, she wants something else. In this case, she wants you to verbally acknowledge and address her concern that you will catch a cold without a coat.


I also deal with at-time crippling ADHD. My girlfriend often will forward me some inspirational kind of things that others suffering from ADHD have said, and a lot of it is a kind of reaffirmation that I'm not just a broken normal person but someone with a kind of neurological hiccup. However, most of the things I read about ADHD kind of have that astrology effect; yeah, it's like, all these things are describing me so well, it's like this person and I share all these traits and I feel understood and not alone... but then I think about it, and almost all ADHD traits can be relatable by anyone. The Michael Jackson thing is pretty frustrating, though, because it's used a lot, and -- furthermore, the problem with memes is that since they are generally reliant on a shared experience, that experience could be different from one person to the next. I mean, look, if I post a picture of Michael Jackson on your Facebook thing, it's never going to be because Thriller was a cool music video. It's going to be for the same reason I put a picture of Epstein on your timeline. Well, I mean, I probably wouldn't do either.

dirby posted:

As an aside, image macros were so called because by invoking them with small snippets of text like [img-timeline], you were running (something like) a computer macro to auto replace that text with an image.

Whoa whoa whoa wait, wait wait. Hold on. I've been on somethingawful since 2000. I've been here since before we moved to these forums. I grew up here. I never knew these images were literally tied to actual macros. What. What. I've heard of img-timeline. I think you used to get put on probation for it? Oh goodness it was so long ago.


underage at the vape shop posted:

With memes though, it's definitely a case of needing to know the injoke like you did with old-school macros. Stuff like deep-fried memes or that Lord farquad E meme make absolutely 0 sense to me, and I'm a 24 year old extremely online neurotypical.

I have no idea what deep-fried memes are, but I've heard of Lord Farquad. I mean, those syllables sound familiar to me somehow, but I don't know what you're talking about. That's another thing I don't really understand; I'm hardly intertwined with the culture of the Internet or popular media, but I know others who are the same way, but they are able to pick up on all kinds of stuff going on. I don't really make any extreme effort to avoid trends and popular memes (and this is kind of frustrating, because I'm meaning 'meme' by its traditional sense, which isn't really that different than its modern sense, but I think when people here 'meme' they just immediately think of an image, but I'm uh... I'm talking about like, a shared... uh

underage at the vape shop posted:

My question is how have you found dealing with the health system? I am trans and I've seen people compare the trans experience to the autism experience a lot. Most doctors have absolutely no idea and I need to educate myself to make sure I'm getting the best hormone treatment. I've had to educate even good doctors on language. There's almost absolutely 0 research as well and it's to the point that the anecdotal body of evidence of trans people is worth more than the scientific one especially because it's not coloured by prejudice. The comparisons Ive seen have always been pretty surface level, if you're okay to talk about that stuff I'd be interested in hearing what your experience has been like

At first I would have thought there was little crossover with autism and the transgender experience regarding medical, but that's probably based on my personal variety of autism. I can see how in both cases doctors are kind of clueless; understanding of autism has been evolving over the years and also over the years people are starting to think of trans people as actual people. In a way, I guess both are part of a kind of cultural emergence, but as a high-functioning person with autism I have not had to rely on the medical system very much. I do take ADHD meds, and anti-depressants and a mood stabilizer, and I am sure these are prescribed based on an evaluation of a neurotypical person and not an autistic person, but I have many trans friends who seem to have endless battles with their doctors. But actually, a lot of that pertains to insurance, and as is sadly not uncommon, many of my trans friends are in a constant state of struggling to achieve both cultural and economic normality. Many of them were runaways, have been homeless, drug addicts. In a broad aspect, I wouldn't compare the two but for the "newness" of it; autism is a spectrum wherein I do okay, and my cousin who has autism is kind of half-way, living on his own but relying 100% on disability support, and then there are those who fall somewhere else. Autistic people also aren't really judged; we might be made fun of, but nobody hates us. But that's maybe veering away from the medical aspect of it all; I just hesitate to compare my experience to a trans experience in any capacity because I know so many trans people and despite my struggles, I can't think of a single one who have had an easier life than I.

AngryRobotsInc posted:

I missed this, but I'll answer it too.

I have never liked it. It's just another step on the euphemism treadmill of legitimate conditions becoming perjoratives. Moron, cretin, imbecile, and idiot were all once genuine terms for people with intellectual disabilities, then they started being used offensively. So they were replaced with mentally retarded. They started losing their sting, and retarded/retard took their place as the offensive term of the day. Now people are acknowledging that calling someone a retard is kind a dick thing to do, and autism/autistic and the one I especially hate, autist are taking its place, even though the condition really has little to do with intellectual disabilities, besides often being comorbid with them.

How do you feel about the autistic person/person with autism identity conflict? I personally prefer to identify as a person with autism, because I don't consider it so much a part of my identity as much as it is a burden that I find to be just a big rear end hindrance. I know it's kind of regressive to say, but I didn't get any of the "perks" of autism. My cousin, for instance, while being technically disabled, is a genius, with a stupidly high IQ and an incredible knack for electronics, programming, numbers, etc. His social skills are almost nonexistent, though; I know I've had it better than him, but there's no real advantage in any way to what I have.

credburn fucked around with this message at 23:16 on Oct 24, 2019

AngryRobotsInc
Aug 2, 2011




credburn posted:

How do you feel about the autistic person/person with autism identity conflict? I personally prefer to identify as a person with autism, because I don't consider it so much a part of my identity as much as it is a burden that I find to be just a big rear end hindrance. I know it's kind of regressive to say, but I didn't get any of the "perks" of autism. My cousin, for instance, while being technically disabled, is a genius, with a stupidly high IQ and an incredible knack for electronics, programming, numbers, etc. His social skills are almost nonexistent, though; I know I've had it better than him, but there's no real advantage in any way to what I have.

Honestly, I really mostly don't care. I refer to my son and myself as autistic, but I guess I can see why people prefer "person first".


On the trans topic, an interesting tidbit, and one where no one is quite certain why, those who are transgender show a higher degree of autism spectrum disorders than you find in just a general slice of the population.

dirby
Sep 21, 2004


Fun Shoe

credburn posted:

I never knew these images were literally tied to actual macros. What. What. I've heard of img-timeline. I think you used to get put on probation for it? Oh goodness it was so long ago.

The old macros are shown and discussed in this thread: https://forums.somethingawful.com/s...hreadid=3773226

Dance Officer
May 4, 2017

It would be awesome if we could dance!


credburn posted:

How do you feel about the autistic person/person with autism identity conflict? I personally prefer to identify as a person with autism, because I don't consider it so much a part of my identity as much as it is a burden that I find to be just a big rear end hindrance. I know it's kind of regressive to say, but I didn't get any of the "perks" of autism. My cousin, for instance, while being technically disabled, is a genius, with a stupidly high IQ and an incredible knack for electronics, programming, numbers, etc. His social skills are almost nonexistent, though; I know I've had it better than him, but there's no real advantage in any way to what I have.

I'm just going to answer this as well, because I'm squarely in the "autistic person" camp, myself. So much of who I am and what I do is affected by the autism, that I think the autism is a fundamental part of who I am. If I wasn't autistic, I would be a completely different person.

AngryRobotsInc
Aug 2, 2011




Dance Officer posted:

I'm just going to answer this as well, because I'm squarely in the "autistic person" camp, myself. So much of who I am and what I do is affected by the autism, that I think the autism is a fundamental part of who I am. If I wasn't autistic, I would be a completely different person.

I feel the same way. I had a mom in a bowling league my son was in get like...personally offended when I said that I, and a lot of other autistic adults I'd spoken to, wouldn't want a cure even if one did exist. Because...well, at the time I was late 20s, now I'm early 30s. Who would I even be if I didn't have autism? It's been part of me my entire life. A cure can't suddenly take away the time it took me faking it until I made it with social rules, and the like. It can't give me back my childhood years wanting friends but not understanding why I struggled to keep them. So on, so forth.

Gantolandon
Aug 19, 2012



I don't really understand the difference between "autistic person" and "person with autism". English is my second language, but a similar distinction exists in Polish and I don't prefer one over the other.

AngryRobotsInc
Aug 2, 2011




Gantolandon posted:

I don't really understand the difference between "autistic person" and "person with autism". English is my second language, but a similar distinction exists in Polish and I don't prefer one over the other.

The common reason for a preference for what's known as "people-first language", such as "person with autism", compared to "identity-first language", such as "autistic person", is to avoid dehumanization, to 'mentally separate the person from the trait", or the implication that the person is somehow inferior.

I personally fall to preferring "identity-first language", and this quote from Lydia Brown of the Autism Self Advocacy Network really says why better than I could myself

quote:

In the autism community, many self-advocates and their allies prefer terminology such as “Autistic,” “Autistic person,” or “Autistic individual” because we understand autism as an inherent part of an individual’s identity...It is impossible to affirm the value and worth of an Autistic person without recognizing his or her identity as an Autistic person. Referring to me as “a person with autism,” or “an individual with ASD” demeans who I am because it denies who I am...When we say “person with autism,” we say that it is unfortunate and an accident that a person is Autistic. We affirm that the person has value and worth, and that autism is entirely separate from what gives him or her value and worth. In fact, we are saying that autism is detrimental to value and worth as a person, which is why we separate the condition with the word “with” or “has.” Ultimately, what we are saying when we say “person with autism” is that the person would be better off if not Autistic, and that it would have been better if he or she had been born typical.

Dance Officer
May 4, 2017

It would be awesome if we could dance!


Gantolandon posted:

I don't really understand the difference between "autistic person" and "person with autism". English is my second language, but a similar distinction exists in Polish and I don't prefer one over the other.

The distinction is about seeing autism as an integral part of the person, the autistic person, or seeing it as mostly separate, some sort of baggage you carry around, like say a broken leg.

Of course, this distinction probably doesn't matter all that much to anyone outside the autistosphere.

AngryRobotsInc
Aug 2, 2011




Dance Officer posted:

The distinction is about seeing autism as an integral part of the person, the autistic person, or seeing it as mostly separate, some sort of baggage you carry around, like say a broken leg.

Of course, this distinction probably doesn't matter all that much to anyone outside the autistosphere.

Deaf and blind communities have also had things to say about it, and also tend to fall squarely in the "identity-first language" camp.

underage at the vape shop
May 11, 2011

by Cyrano4747


Very different but it's for a similar reason that you say trans person and not tranny ( outside of tranny specifically being a slur). It's an adjective, not a noun, and it's not an affliction to be done away with.

Language is extremely important. Uneffected people don't see the point but the subtle differences makes for a big change in perception.

Gantolandon
Aug 19, 2012



underage at the vape shop posted:

Very different but it's for a similar reason that you say trans person and not tranny ( outside of tranny specifically being a slur). It's an adjective, not a noun, and it's not an affliction to be done away with.

Language is extremely important. Uneffected people don't see the point but the subtle differences makes for a big change in perception.

I'm affected and I never really saw a meaningful difference. On the other hand, I got my diagnosis two years ago and my sense of identity as an autistic person isn't especially strong.

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credburn
Jun 22, 2016


underage at the vape shop posted:

Very different but it's for a similar reason that you say trans person and not tranny ( outside of tranny specifically being a slur). It's an adjective, not a noun, and it's not an affliction to be done away with.

I hadn't really thought about that, and I'm a bit confused. Are you saying it's inappropriate to refer to someone as being trans? Or that they are a transgender person? I'm not sure what the noun/adjective distinction is, besides tranny obviously being a pejorative.


AngryRobotsInc posted:

I feel the same way. I had a mom in a bowling league my son was in get like...personally offended when I said that I, and a lot of other autistic adults I'd spoken to, wouldn't want a cure even if one did exist. Because...well, at the time I was late 20s, now I'm early 30s. Who would I even be if I didn't have autism? It's been part of me my entire life. A cure can't suddenly take away the time it took me faking it until I made it with social rules, and the like. It can't give me back my childhood years wanting friends but not understanding why I struggled to keep them. So on, so forth.

I think a very large part of the "cure" conversation is that the interpretation seems to be that autistic people are going to be suddenly "made normal." When I think of a cure, I think of something that will stop autism from appearing in our offspring. I wouldn't be who I am if it wasn't because of my autism, but I've also lived a life of constant anxiety, fear, confusion, and misery. I am at a point in my life where I have everything I could ever want, so like, things turned out okay, but it's after 35 years of bullshit. Probably a full quarter of my life has been spent in a constant state of considering suicide and assuming that that would be how I would go. Even if things are better now, I would sacrifice everything I have to start over and just be able to experience life like a normal person. I would want a cure, and I support the pursuit of a cure, but very few people would ever realistically support curing a person -- it's just the genes that should be kept from being passed down. Even if they were to "cure" me right now, I would turn it down; autism is a part of who I am. I just wish it hadn't been.

credburn fucked around with this message at 01:18 on Oct 27, 2019

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