The 18th of June each year is designated as Autistic Pride Day. First observed in 2005 by the Aspies for Freedom online group, which sadly no longer exists, 2016 marks the 11th Autistic Pride Day. It aims to celebrate and recognize the talents of people who are living with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or Asperger’s Syndrome, like I am.
I have previously written about my experiences of living with autism for World Autism Awareness Day and Month in April of this year, but this time I want to be a little more positive about my life with the condition as today is meant to celebrate pride of being autistic. While of course autism presents me with various challenges, such as not being able to socialize as easily as ‘neurotypical’ people, difficulty in talking about things other than my special interests (namely Canada) and often feeling alone, it does come with many positives which help to compensate for the negatives.
If you’re a regular reader of mine, you’ll know that one of my biggest talents is writing, drawing and creating my own cartoon characters. My deep concentration on my creative works ever since I was a very little girl has helped me to hone my skills continuously over the years – something that has grown up with me well into my teens and early 20s (I’m currently 21 years old and I show absolutely no sign of stopping!) My special interests have played a significant role in this utmost determination to be creative, and with Canada, it’s no exception – currently six years and still ongoing. My never-ending love of Canada and never giving up on my wish to go there is what helped me to achieve my ultimate dream of seeing it in real life, with me visiting Nova Scotia in February this year. And I’m still wishing to see it again, though this time in the summer.
People on the autism spectrum often use anthropomorphization of inanimate objects and abstract concepts to help them understand the world better, and this is what I do on a daily basis, which of course includes geographical locations (especially Canada!) But it’s not just countries or cities and towns which I personify – I’ve also used this technique with the days of the week, months of the year, and even the letters of the alphabet. In 2013, I created Alphabet City, which follows 26 inhabitants of the eponymous city who are each given a name beginning with each letter of the alphabet from A to Z. (Their character profiles will be up on this blog a little later on!)
So as you can see, I’m a lot more than just a ‘girl with autism’ – I have my own personality, likes, dislikes and talents just like every other person around the world, whether autistic or not. But I’m proud to be autistic because of the ‘extra goodies’ it gifts me with. This is why I hate it when autism is referred to as a ‘disease’, but we all know it’s not, and so it can’t be cured. It is simply a part of us.
If there’s pride for those who are LGBT, then why shouldn’t there be pride for those living on the autism spectrum? We should stop seeing autism as a ‘tragedy’ and instead see the good side of the autistic community, and accept their autism as part of what makes them who they are. And that applies to me and everybody who I meet up with.
Let’s celebrate the wonderful world of autism and its amazing inhabitants!