When I was reorganizing my blog a few weeks ago, I discovered a large number of posts from when I was still in high school. These reminded me of the relative ability I displayed at the time, as compared to my current impairment. That is, if you feel that high school performance and locked ward placement – I am temporarily back at my old ward – reflect directly on one’s level of intrinsic functioning or impairment. If you believe that a high school student who performs well on all subjects is inherently better than a locked ward patient, it is easy to assume that I have become less functional – less worthy even. Worse yet, it is easy to assume that either my past performance or my current impairment are unreal. This is the way many autistics’ realities and therefore their existences are being denied.
Yet when you reason that way, you forget the social circumstances involved in shaping a person’s abilities and difficulties. In my own case, for example, high school was relatively structured. I, being highly intelligent, didn’t have to do much studying, so I could get by without planning my studies. Socially, I didn’t fit in, but that is of course normal for a high-functioning Aspie like me. College, on the other hand, was a lot less structured, and, beyond that, a lot more academically challenging. I could no longer get by without studying, so my lack of organizational skills bit me in the ass.
In daily living, I never did many household chores when I lived with my parents, and did them with relatively much help at the independent living training home I attended. Besides, I had a strict schedule there and someone to fall back on should I get stuck. In independent living, I didn’t have these, and I fell flat on my face.
Beyond this, there are the difficulties that people would rather deny. One’d rather deny that, in high school, I had meltdowns several times a week and was a wanderer. On the locked ward, back when I resided there in 2007 and 2008, that was expected of the behaviorally disturbed person I was, but people still clung to the idea that this had all started in 2007. It hadn’t.
There are also the things, when it’s online people judging autistics, that you just don’t learn from someone’s blog. I hesitated to come out as a self-injurer because I know my staff read my blog. Now they’ve seen me head-bang several times. There are still things you do not know about me, because I find them hard to articulate or because they are still simply none of your business.
People could esaily deny that I am as autistic as I am based on my former blog posts. I can offer a rebuttal if they’re willing to believe that autism is as much influenced by social circumstances as it is a medical condition. Unfortunately, the people who are most likely to doubt my autism reality, don’t take the social model of disability and won’t see autism as something influenced by such circumstances as whether a person is accommodated – either formally or informally – or not.