Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Separating Autism from Autistics

Many people believe that you cannot separate autism from autistic people.  They say it no different than gender or race.  Last time I checked, it was still possible to get a sex change operation and Michael Jackson sure tried to change his race.

To me autism and autistic people are very different things.  To me autism is no different than any other neurological disorder.  In many ways, I think autism is a lot like bipolar.  There are some real perks to bipolar for some.  A lot can be accomplished in a manic episode.  But there are some serious minuses as well.  People with bipolar are at a greater risk of suicide.

So I decided to go to the autism expert in my house and I had the following conversation with Joe last week.

Mom: "So, Joe, if someone would come up to you and say 'I really hate autism.' would you think this meant they hated you or some of the things that autism makes you do?"

Joe (AKA Mr. Literal):  "If they said they hated autism, I would think they didn't like some of the things about autism.  Like my friend, Harris -- sometimes he can really annoy me but I still like being friends with him.  And Alan is OK as a brother but it sure would be nice if he could talk like me."

That made a lot of sense to me.

I read a blog awhile back where the mother said that her child was autism and autism was her child.  All I could think was how sad and limiting that is. 

I think my boyz are so much more than their autism.  While some of their personality traits have probably developed in response to having grown up with autism, some are just there.  Alan can't begin to tell a joke, but he has the funniest sense of humor.  Joe genuinely wants to be helpful.  Alan cleans up all the time and has since he was a toddler.  Joe is wise beyond his years but so unbelievably naive.  They are some weird little conundrums!!

When someone says you cannot separate autism from autistics, I want to say that is like saying you cannot separate red from the rainbow.  You can.  Maybe it makes the rainbow less pretty, but then again, if you have too much red it can overwhelm the other colors and make them much harder to see. 

I just want a little better balance in my rainbows.


  1. I liked Joe's interview. Very true. :)

  2. Julie I think this is what you have been trying to say all along and it took Joe and seeing a rainbow. You are right, you can take the red out, but it impacts. Too much or too little.

    I despise how you have been attacked for trying to explain how you feel about autism. And I admire your tenacity to make people understand how much you love your boyz but not so much what takes them away from you.

    Oh and you cracked me up with the MJ line :)