Autism* is a whole bunch of things to a whole bunch of people. It’s Autism Awareness month so I figured I better write something. So I sat down, wrote a title, and started to think. What do I, Jamie, think about “Autism”.
I figure I can write about tons of things. Independence, sensory issues, communication issue, meltdowns, obssessions.. But, this is not new. This is just me repeating what you can read elsewhere. What do I, jamie, think about Autism.
I think of Lion.
Lion is plush toy about 4 feet long, very worn, with a “distinctive” smell and a tangled mane. He never** leaves the side of a 23 year old web developer at the BBC, called, erm, Me.
I have had Lion for years, but i have not always carried him. It would be social suicide for a teenager to carry a giant lion around. By the time i was 12 / 13 Lion stayed in my bed. After some seriously complicated stuff left me somewhat homeless when i was 16/17 i sat down and decided, dammit. I wanted Lion by my side because it simply made me feel “better”.
So, i’m 23 and i have a trait common with a 5 year old. Should i not be ashamed? Embarrassed? Should i not hide the Lion? I dont think so.
I dont feel the social pressure too, i dont feel social pressure most of the time, yes, but regarding the Lion i feel no social pressure at all. Many people have explained to me how i am misreading the world in this regard. I’m sure they are right. However, i like the way the Lion smells.
I should probably feel ashamed perhaps? Feel like i am not “manly” enough, or that i should show i am strong. I don’t feel a need. I can run and jump and do tae kwon do (badly). I’m not brittle, I would say I am robust. However, I like the way the Lion is consistant.
Surely I should hide Lion, keep him a secret? Feel exposed, afraid and a freak. Nope. I don’t really keep track of such things. Yes, i feel afraid of being targeted as vunerable somtimes. Yes, i sometimes do worry about if Lion will be misunderstood by people around me. However, most people respond well to Lion. Lion is really simple.
Lion is part of me, my “autism”, my connection with the world. Lion represents the deepest parts of how i work. Autism Awareness month can talk about how Lion taps into all sorts of autism related things. But ultimately, he is just my Lion.
(*) I ‘have aspergers’ which is on the autism spectrum.
(**) I know of 4 occurences since I was ~17 where Lion was away from me.