For a while I’ve often been asked a question that I never truly knew how to give a precise answer to. It should be self explanatory but that sad thing is that when you dig deeper things tend to get a bit complicated. Most people who follow Autism awareness know the puzzle piece to be the symbol of Autism and that’s essentially how people perceive the disorder, a puzzle, a mystery that needs to be solved. I often get asked what the point of the puzzle piece and I always approached it symbolically but, yesterday when a friend of mine asked I decided to take a more literal approach to it and when I did it exposed inherent flaws within our society and our approach to the disorder. We as humans make things far more complicated than they’re supposed to be.
I know what you’re asking, how can we possibly complicate something that was already complicated to begin with? What’s really going to blow your mind is when I tell you that Autism isn’t very complicated at all. Autism is the furthest thing from complicated when you finally sit back and breathe and just accept everything about it at face value. The “mystery” component of Autism is fueled by a lack of acceptance of the condition. Autism itself isn’t the mystery families are trying to solve. The mystery families are trying to solve is “what happened to the perfect child who would grow up to be a doctor a lawyer?” or “why is my child running around flapping their arms instead of being like everyone else?” We created the mystery when we decided to ask all the wrong questions.
If you’re a parent/caretaker of a child on the spectrum then you’re probably giving the dirtiest looks right now because I dare say that Autism isn’t very complicated. When you grow up on the spectrum you quickly learn that everyone else around you makes everything complicated. I never thought for one second that something was wrong with me until people started treating me as such. Between the ages of three and five I developed a habit of shattering glass objects. Everywhere I went I would break everything that was made of glass, plates, cups, vases, you name I broke it. I got us kicked out of several stores and my parents couldn’t wrap their head around my destructive habit and thought it was fueled by anger or agitation but the thing I didn’t know how to communicate back then was that I enjoyed it and that their was an origin. You see one night when I was younger I saw this commercial on TV where these two wine glasses are smashed together and are shattered into several pieces. I thought that was the coolest thing ever and sought to replicate it. The sound of glass shattering was also the greatest thing ever. I wanted to hear that sound everywhere I went and the tools were always at my disposal.
Also when I was five-ish I started purposely wetting my pants while I was at home. At this point I was potty trained and knew where the yellow stuff was supposed to go but for some odd reason I was bored of that routine and decided to deviate from the routine because it felt adventurous and there was such a trill to do what you’re not supposed to do. I though it was utterly hilarious but my mother didn’t find it very funny, she was pissed and everyone started getting concerned and I didn’t understand why. I realize now that they probably thought I was regressing or that these were accidents triggered by something bad but it was as simple as me wanting to deviate from the routine for a bit. I knew the rules, they just got a bit boring so I had to see my other possibilities. When I did realize people were getting worried (I know what you’re also thinking, how the hell can a five year old Autistic child know that people are worried)? This is where I point back to why the symbol of Autism is a puzzle piece to begin with, it’s because we’re asking all the wrong questions.
The problem lies in communication, as with all cultural and communication barriers certain actions, words, phrases, and traditions are lost in translation. Every child on a spectrum has a method to their madness for lack of a better phrase. One child’s method is always different from the other but there’s a reason behind what they do and if that’s the this is probably the part where you say “does that mean the mystery of Autism means figuring out the method to one’s madness”? If you’ve asked this question then you’ve probably assumed that my argument is flawed because once again your mind is further complicating a very simple reality that many aren’t willing to accept. The people asking all the wrong questions are the problem. The people who approach Autism as trying to “fix” their child are the problem. Us Autistics aren’t here for you to solve us like we’re some rubric’s cube or a calculus problem or a Sudoku puzzle. We already know how to solve our own problems given you’re willing to provide us the environment to do so. I solved my urge to listen to the sound of shattering glass by well, breaking every plate I saw, I solved the problem of being routine bound by deviating from the routine the only way I knew how and that was purposely wetting myself, I even solved my problems of boredom and restlessness by learning to stim. This is not to say you should let a child continue a behavior if it’s destructive to themselves or others but finding a healthy alternative rather than just flat out saying no also helps. Yeah we’ve already found the solutions to our problems, we’re here to help you solve your own problems like figuring out why you can’t accept people the way they are or why you have this need to constantly mold people to be “acceptable by society”? Most importantly we’re here to help you figure out why you’re so afraid of things that are different.
Yeah there’s a mystery to be solved but it has nothing to do with us. I find neurotypicals to be the most perplexing things in existence. You guys bully people who do things differently from you. A lot of you don’t have any sense of individualism, you like to do what’s considered hip and when it’s played out you move to something new and do it all over again until there’s nothing left. A lot of you are close minded and aren’t willing to be open to any perspective other than your own. If it isn’t cool then people are weird for doing it. I grew up a hardcore gamer and got bullied for being a nerd and having no life but Call of Duty and the Nintendo Wii comes into existence and everyone and their mother claims they play video games. There are way more problems I’ve noticed amongst neurotypicals but the biggest problem of all is that a lot of you find ways to complicate the simplest of things. On the surface Autism looks very complex but if you’re willing to be patient and dig deeper than you have in your life, Autism very complicated at all. It’s complicated because everyone makes it that way. We created an unnecessary mystery by asking all the wrong questions. So next time you see someone on the spectrum or even someone who is simply different from you doing something “you” think is weird, instead of asking what is wrong with them and trying to solve their own problem, ask yourself what is wrong with you. The sooner we as a society start asking the right questions, the sooner society can start walking a path to a better future. Now if you’re an avid Matrix fan then you already know how this blog title ties into this blog but if you aren’t, it simply means that our mind is our greatest weapon and our own worse enemy. We’re in complete control of how we perceive everything in life and that our beliefs or lack of beliefs dominate our thought process. Stay classy people…