First up, let me repeat her really simple rules:
- Whoever wants to participate, participate. I’m focusing primarily on Asperger’s/autistic people, of course, but anyone who supports autistic people and neurodiversity is welcome!
- Do link back to the blogger who gave you the idea
- Do link back to this blog (i.e. The Silent Wave) as the original creator.
- Describe a bit about yourself. However much you feel comfortable saying.
- List your main “special interests” or areas of primary focus/niche specialties.
- If you’re on the spectrum yourself, describe why you’re proud to be Aspergian/autistic or what you like about being Aspergian/autistic.
- If you’re not on the spectrum yourself, you can use this opportunity to describe a loved one in your life who is and what makes them awesome, or you can explain what autism means to you and why you think the world would be a better place if it were to be more embracing of autism.
- (Of course, you can answer more than one! For example, someone who is autistic can also describe how much better the world would be if it was more open toward autism.)
- If you like, you can list other blogs or resources that are autism/neurodiversity-positive, to give them a shout-out, too.
So here is how I play along:
- And straight away things are getting tricky. I still haven’t found the courage, the inner certainty, the conviction I need to come out and say “yes, I’m autistic”. I can almost hear the collective “well, duh!” from you people I’m in contact with. I feel like y’all treat me as your neurosibling already, and it’s true I have a lot in common with you, but…yeah, I’m just not ready. It’s probably just a matter of time, but you need to give me that time. So, I’m writing this partly hovering in the uncertain space between, partly “as if”. As the rules say, whoever wants to participate, participate – and I do want to participate! Autistic Pride is a concept I can totally get behind.
- see my first sentence
- see my first sentence
- I am one of those people who in mid-life are prompted by something to look into autism, discover that they have lots in common with autistic people and start to wonder “could I be…?” That’s the direction in which I’m moving. Otherwise I don’t really want to say much. I have a full time job, and I live alone, no partner, no children, because that’s the way I like it.
- Some interests come and go, some are more constant. Here are some that I come back to again and again, or they never go away:
- Nature and wildlife. This has been an interest of mine from childhood. Particular favourites are birds and insects, but really I love all of it.
- Music. When I was at school, I had piano lessons. I wasn’t too bad, but I wasn’t super talented either. But apart from playing the piano, I also learned a lot about music theory and music history. Later on I taught myself a lot about the history and development of popular music – I remember the a-ha! moment when I realised that an AC/DC song was basically a speeded-up twelve-bar blues. I listen to a lot of music (much classical but also other genres) and having that knowledge in the background really enhances the enjoyment for me.
- History. My subject at university. It’s not just what you normally call history, but also the history of particular areas, such as history of science, of medicine, of religion, of philosophy…Often linked to whatever special interest fantasy world I’m living in at the moment (currently Tudor England)
- Forensic science. Particularly forensic entomology. Goes back to my interest in insects as mentioned above.
- Criminal psychology and profiling. I’ve been reading about this subject (including proper textbooks) on and off for the past 20 years.
- Am I on the spectrum or am I not? That is the question…What I will do is describe a few things about me, about my way of being, thinking etc. without knowing whether they have anything to do with autism or not. Here goes:
I’ve always been one for the little things. I notice them, and I like them, too. I’m good at spotting details. I will find the dropped pin on the carpet. I like to watch a beetle clamber through a thicket of moss. I can find a particular sentence in a book of several hundred pages. I’m fond of modest, unshowy things. I like mice and little brown birds like Hedge Sparrows. I like to get close-up, because that’s very often where you discover the real beauty. I caught a woodlouse in my bathtub the other day which at first glance was just brown, but a closer look revealed an intricate speckled pattern of brown, black and grey, with a light brown edge. I remember a TV programme on the subject of mould, which showed mould in great magnification, and it turned the mould into a fairy-tale forest of breath-taking beauty. Little things, things in miniature, things you superficially don’t notice – that’s my thing.
I love connections. I can’t claim that I’m exceptionally good at finding them, since I’m more prone to looking at the details in isolation and not notice the big picture so much. But I love making connections, and when I find one, it gives me a little jolt of joy. What I’m talking about is like the AC/DC/blues thing mentioned above. I also like looking at languages and which words are similar in different languages. Example: “moron” is Welsh for “carrot”, which to me is not as weird as it looks, since I grew up saying “Möhre”, which is German for “carrot” – see the similarity? There is a second word in German for “carrot”, which is “Karotte”. Obvious, no? You can also find echoes of Latin in the Welsh language, and then you start wondering why etc. Contemplating that sort of thing makes me happy. This is also why my special interests spread outwards like a fractal, because one thing connects to another. Perhaps a historical figure appears as a character in a book I’m reading, so I’ll go and find out who that figure was. Or perhaps I’ve already read about the history, and when that character appears in fiction, I immediately know who they are. Or perhaps a fictional character mentions a real existing book they’ve been reading, and I’ll go and read that book as well.
Another type of connection-thinking is the constant observing and drawing conclusions, which I put down to getting into Sherlock Holmes at the impressionable age of 11. Like this: the woman in front of me has something in her hand. A ticket. Is it a bus ticket? No, it’s a train ticket. I bet she’s going to cross the footbridge now to go to the station. There she goes! Or looking at drops on the pavement and figuring out what made those drops and in which direction the dripping thing was moving. This can have disadvantages, like when you can’t just cross the road, but have to figure out the right moment to achieve the optimum distance from cars, cyclists and other pedestrians on both sides of the road.
I love knowledge. I love knowing things. I want to know what that bird is which I’m seeing. I also think that, particularly in observing nature, the science doesn’t take anything away from the magic. On the contrary, the complement each other, enhance each other. I also love having my mind boggled. It’s a very pleasurable sensation, and the most reliable way to do it is to think about the universe.
I also have a very active imagination. I never had imaginary friends, but I had lots of imaginary animals. When I read a story, I can see it in my mind’s eye. When I write a story myself, I can see it happening in my mind, like a film. You look at me, and you see a woman going to the shops. In my head, I’m riding down a street in 16th century London on a big horse. And when I look into the undergrowth, I imagine Brambly Hedge mice. It makes the world a lot more colourful, and it provides an escape from reality without shutting reality out altogether.
Am I proud of being like this? Is it cos I’m autistic? I don’t know. I just know that that’s how I am. I don’t know any other way to be. I like being this way, though. Life is full of stress and anxiety, and if it is due to autism that I have the ability to experience a tiny hit of joy from a passing bee, then good for me, I say.
- + 8. Not sure I’ve got anything to say for those. Of course it would be better if the world was more accepting of autism. Autistic people have always been around, even if they weren’t called that. That is not a call for retrospectively diagnosing a load of historical characters, but rather we need to recognise that autism is part of the rainbow of humanity.
- If haven’t already done so, check out Luke Beardon’s blog “Perspectives on Autism”: https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/autism/ It’s not written by an autistic person, but by an expert who listens to autistic people, interacts with them, learns from them. This is not someone who looks at autistic people through the filter of “symptoms” and “diagnostic criteria”, but with true understanding. I find his blog very insightful, and it’s helped me a lot.
So there we are. Want to take part as well under the banner of #autisticpride? Over to you…
Image: a rainbow of felt pens, which I bought last year and felt like I was 10 again and massively into colouring