Beginning

Dear Friend,

Hello! This is me, getting acquainted with you.

My name is Kirsten. I like high fantasy, video games, and cats. I am also autistic. This means that my brain and body are different from those of the average (“neurotypical”) individual. Autistic is an adjective that describes who I am, how I think, and how some of the molecular machinery in my gut and immune system works. And, because I have a formal medical diagnosis, it implies that I share certain loosely qualifiable traits listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (“DSM”) with many other people who have been given this same label, lumping us together into one big family under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

While autism can be a “disorder”—a deviation from the standard healthy human condition—because many autistic traits are disabling to varying degrees in a number of contexts, autism can also be an advantage. Though autistics often struggle with abstract concepts and executive functioning, we also have “superior rote memories”, and highly plastic brains. Even though the different ways in which we process sensory information can be a handicap—I often have to wear sunglasses to comfortably drive at night, due to my light sensitivities, for example—the sensory differences present in autism have resulted in a number of highly talented autistic designers and sound engineers. Despite struggling verbally, many autistics can become eloquent writers and public speakers. The autistic braintype often produces creative inventors, and exceptional specialists. And while we autistics lack the intuitive and unconscious social graces of our neurotypical peers, our no-nonsense, straightforward approach to the world is just as valuable to society as a whole.

The autistic community is every bit as diverse as the neurotypical community, and because of this I can in no way speak as a representative of all autistics. But I can share my point of view as one autistic.

I feel that the autism community needs the contribution of young advocates. And more than that, the community suffers from a worrisome lack of female autistic voices. Autism has been, and still is, a male-centric topic. Only recently, with improved diagnosis techniques and a steady increase in education and awareness, is the diagnostic gap between boys and girls closing. Women in the world of autism are too often relegated to a footnote, an exception to the norm. It is my goal to add my voice to the growing chorus of autistic women speaking out.

And, friend, if I can provide you with any amount of help, advice, or useful information I will consider my job done well. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions, send suggestions, or criticize my analyses. This blog is for you, and I hope to give you all that I can.

Best wishes,

Kirsten

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6 thoughts on “Beginning

  1. I have autism, but I didn’t find out until I was in my mid-thirties. I’ve had such a hard time in social situations, that I decided to start writing novels. I put an autistic character in my novel series, in order to help with autism awareness. I’m happy you are writing this blog. It’s refreshing and I look forward to what you have to say.

    Like

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