Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Back Roads

Each entry in my journal says the same thing; see the autist as a person first. Awesome things can happen when you work together. Therapy should not be done to someone, but with someone.

Most of my early therapy was inflicted on me. Not until my teens did I have an active part in my therapy. I hate typing because it is so hard, but facilitated communication changed my life. It gave a voice to my anger. It allowed communication of thoughts beyond needs. Asking questions gave me answers I would not have imagined. Things beyond my experience became known, not real things, but imagined ones, like how to say I love you in sign language. Mom used to sign “ I love you” to me, but I didn’t understand. To say “ I love you” in sign is made of symbols. So are lots of other things. Symbols were lost on me as a child unless the symbols were embedded in the thing the symbol represented . I learned to read with words on things. I knew words long before I understood what the alphabet was. The alphabet was just a string of meaningless letters to me for a long time. I am smart, but sometimes simple things escape me.

Being autistic can lead to strange misunderstandings. I felt like I stood in mud most of my life. Cement felt like mud as much as dirt. Mud you sink in. Asking questions is how I learned the ground is hard not soft. Now I know it is my body that experiences differently. I feel like I sink into things when I walk. It feels like sinking even though my eyes tell me otherwise. Getting mixed messages from my senses is common. Knowing the truth helps.

It has also helped me to not get so frustrated with not being able to do what looks so easy for you. You run on a different motor. A bicycle can’t be expected to run as fast as a car. Autists are like bicycles; you want to gas them up when what they really need is a new bike chain. Typical people are like different model cars, but autists are different vehicles altogether. A car and a bike can perform the same function, but they do it differently. Being a bike on a super highway is a good analogy for me. I am trying to reach the same destination as you, but by bicycle. You get to ride in an air conditioned car. I get to eat your exhaust fumes. Yet you can’t understand why I don’t enjoy the trip? A pleasant trip might be different, on back roads with pretty scenery. I travel the back roads now at my pace. It is a longer trip, but I like the view much better.

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