Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Story Idea-Adults Awareness

This posting was submitted from a person who has autism. This item was emailed to this blog--AR

What does the media not get?

A lot of things.i'm autistic. According to the media, there's a lot of things about my autism that would make me antisocial or cold. In fact, i'm quite emotional, passionate, and have a sense of empathy that is quite painful. Overload, in fact. i have to avoid the news because i am disturbed by so many things i can do nothing about... for just one example.Yes, empathy. i have empathy. i empathize with the feelings of others.

Like many topics, the media boils things down to bullet points for an audience that is the lowest common denominator. The bullet points are shallow, inappropriate (where one point might be valid in the context of certain people, it is NOT valid in the context of AUTISM in general).
It's oversimplified.

Another thing the media, and the so-called medical professionals, do not understand, seemingly at all, is that there are more than just children with autism. i'm 31. i'm an adult. i was never diagnosed as a child. i lived a life of what i call neuroracism. Basically, it's the same as regular racism, but i am not in a protected class and my "diversity" is not "validated" by the politically correct establishment. (i hate political correctness, by the way). i was, quite simply, abused. My entire life. i was bullied for being different in any way, pushed into situations i was not yet emotionally or intellectually ready to handle, forced to perform at a higher level in school than i was capable ("You're so smart, you can do better, you just have a bad attitude" i was told countless times)... etc. i have disabilities. Dyscalculia. Dyslexia. My short term memory cannot store as much information as most people (such as when someone rattles off a phone number, a date or an address, i need it given to me in smaller chunks instead of one big pile). i am not able to memorize information that is "irrelevant" to my life's context and i cannot use mnemonics because i'm too literal in my brain connections from concept to symbol.

All my life, i was forced to live by the expectations of people who could not grasp that i had a different neurological makeup. Friends, family, employers, etc... i knew what was different about me, but i had no official terminology or diagnosis to hand people. So i was harassed, pushed, bullied, taken advantage of and betrayed countless times because of people who refused to accept that there was anything about me that made me fundamentally different from anyone else.

Where was my support? Where was the professional medical world? Who was there to help me with my disabilities? Dyscalculia didn't even have a name when i started college, but i knew it existed. Ten years later, working at a university, a seminar on learning disabilities announces "dyscalculia" as a newly recognized disability. i was kind of angry.i had no accommodation. Ever. When i informed my boss at work, in order to attempt to make our working together go more smoothly and to improve communication, he was reluctant to believe me. He went home, Googled "Asperger's Syndrome" and came back to work thinking he knew everything. He then used it against me. He's a sociopath. i had just given him a weapon with which to attack me behind my back to my colleagues and it pleased him to give me work tasks that i had already explained to him were outside my abilities (not to mention not part of my job description - i'm not an engineer or a construction worker, yet he expected me to do measurements of a new location for our computer lab....).i lost my job through harassment and bullying from my boss, his boss and Human Resources. The sociopathic boss was completely free to do anything because i had no "protected class" status. i was not "on the books" with a "valid" disability that they had to accommodate by law.

Getting "on the books" was fraught with fantastic obstacles, one of which was simply cost for getting testing by so-called professionals, when i already had a diagnosis and i already knew me.i see constant talk about children and autism but i see nothing about the children who are undiagnosed, growing up to become adults. i see nothing discussing how that kind of life affects a person and what difficulties they face as an adult because of the complications or outright horrors of growing up as a victim of neuroracism.

i have much to offer the world as a skilled and intelligent human being. Yet, society is designed to allow the cold hearted and selfish to progress while the sensitive and fundamentally neurologically different get stepped on, blamed for attributes they do not possess, and marginalized.

The educational system failed me. My union failed me. My employers forced me out when i tried to defend myself against a sociopathic and abusive boss. We have the right to work in a non-hostile environment. Where was my support? No where. Bullying still has yet to become part of the "politically correct awareness" memes in this country.As i am marginalized and disrespected and generally not listened to, i sit here wondering why no one is willing to accept what i can offer.

First and foremost is knowledge about AS, growing up without being diagnosed, and several other neurological and psychiatric topics that i have self-studied in order to attempt to save my own life when the medical industry showed its ignorance to me by declaring that i could not possibly have AS because i communicate well and make eye contact.i also have eidetic memory (which i cannot control), an ability to recognize patterns and systems that exceeds more than 80% of the population (according to two sets of neuropsych testing), and have fantastic mechanical and spacial skills (unfortunately, not with my own body - my body map is not very functional and i can appear clumsy, which made me a target for every bully in physical education classes for 12 years of my life). i'm compulsively honest. i care for animals and people with great empathy. i see through complexities to see the simple (i am a major opponent of the "End User License Agreement" and other uses of language and law to defeat the spirit of law). i can grasp the complexities to understand the whole, where many are blocked by the bits and pieces, unable to see the forest for the trees. i have no tolerance for racism, sexism, or any segregation or divisionary behaviors. i am very keen on recognizing social dynamics (though i often cannot fit into them because they reject my "kind"; a sad irony). i am very capable of dealing with crisis and emergency situations without letting emotions bring me to panic or distress, making me useful in such situations to help others (granted, personal trauma is exascerbated as i now have PTSD from years of psychological abuse).

There is more to me than a set of bullet points and there are positives along with the negatives.i'm not autism. i have autistic neurology.i'm not a defect. i have different processes by which my brain handles stimuli and information (and emotions).i'm a varied individual with a lot to say and teach, but i find no one wishes to learn or listen because i have no credibility.

So i have a blog and a website where i express my life trauma in words and photography. They are not suitable for children, but i highly encourage educators to spend some time reading my blog and i am willing to discuss any topic openly if it means that the media and the world in general can be educated about the reality of autism: it's not a defect; it's a variation. It's not just a topic for children and parents.

Countless adults have come to discover their lives were made terribly complicated by having never been validated or correctly diagnosed. Some have become suicidal, it has been that bad (i am one).Again, i'm willing to talk about any topic, debunk myths from personal experiences, describe my own experiences, etc. But i highly recommend using my website as an example of what can happen when misdiagnosis or no diagnosis is made and no accommodations are made and a child becomes an adult in a world that needs labels and tags and "protected classes" in order to hand out a pallid offering of accommodations to those who have been born with different neurological functioning.

If you have any serious interest, here i am, and here is my website. Consider it expressionistic art created by an adult who grew up without the benefit of social awareness of autism. Consider it an example of why education is important. Consider it an example of a worst case scenario. Consider it an example that someone with autism thinks, feels, expresses and can know a great many things that the average person does not typically bother with. Consider it a portrait of one man who has been betrayed by his society, country, friends, family and institutions because he was born with a brain that is functionally different from what is considered to be "the norm."

-jace cavacini

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know what it's like to go without a diagnosis. My father is autistic and there is also autism on my mum's side. My uncle had barely spoken to the age of 4 and my aunty used to speak on behalf of both of them. So you can imagine my brother and I were 'special'. And I had a lisp just to make my life more fun. Kids are cruel.

And doctors were ignorant back in the 80s. My brother had not uttered a word even when he was 2 and the doctor said it was probably because we spoke 2 languages at home. So mum stopped speaking french. The only language my brother and i know is English. I feel robbed of that part of my culture. I am moving to france in a bid to reclaim part of what was lost.

And i agree things are too simplified in the media. I mean really, how do you explain to someone what it feels to have a brain that's different to them? Especially after you've been teased and excluded for so long?

Anyway, your blog interested me because i agree there is not enough help for those autistics who have grown up with out a diagnosis. Are we too far gone?
And when i try and reach out to people, 'professionals'are sceptical . Like i'm trying to jump on the bandwagon or something. i'm starting to believe peace of mind doesnt exist.

But venting helps me immensely.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and for caring about other people's emotions, there arent enough people like that. That's why i love animals so much.