Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Autism Awareness Day

Earlier, I read on Facebook that today - April 2nd - was Autism Awareness Day, which I had completely forgotten. I was excited to hear, though, that people are wearing the color blue to raise awareness since I was already wearing a blue dress shirt.

It can still be difficult for me to tell other people that I am on the autism spectrum, although I have been more open about my condition...condition? Is that the word I want to use?

While living as a person on the autism spectrum definitely isn't a "lifestyle choice" (relax, this is a joke)*, it does seem quite absurd for me to use such impersonal, almost dehumanizing language like "condition" to describe something that has had such an impact on my life so far.

*Would I have to say that so explicitly if I were someone else? (I don't even say "normal", because no one really is "normal", but everyone has problems and quirks that change who they are.)

On that note, I choose to describe myself as a "professional human being". I've spent an often disconcerting amount of time parsing the nuances of the behavior of other people, not to mention my own actions.

When I was younger, I knew less about the world and felt far more sensitive to my own shortcomings. When I had difficult interactions with others, I always assumed that it was my fault, because I was the one who stuck out from the crowd.

Yes, I do make my fair share of mistakes -- but so does everyone else. No one has a monopoly on making or not making a social faux pas.

In some ways, having so much trouble with understanding certain things about the world for so long has helped me. I have more patience for uncertainty, more tolerance of ambiguity, and a greater willingness to see things from the perspectives of other people.

From ignorance, wisdom. And the last shall be among the first.

So that's something. Everywhere I go, people still insistently ask me "where I'm from" because "I have an accent". I usually don't tell them that I probably sound unusual to them because I have Asperger's Syndrome. I want people to believe that I'm really a male counterpart to Anna Chapman, sent as a representative of a foreign country to live undercover in the United States of America, and that my apparent accent and pedestrian background betray my ulterior motives. At least, I hope that's what people think, because that's cool as hell.

Now I just need to practice a Russian accent:

"My name is Teleprompter. I am a professional human being. I am from suburbia, USA, from somewhere you've never heard of, like a good American..."