Content/trigger warning: mention of person-first language, discussion of ableism
The Walk in Red Instead challenge was originated by the runner of the Tumblr blog walkinredinstead. I fully admit I didn’t have the spoons to put a lot of effort into this, but for what it’s worth, here is my completed challenge. I did a similar entry last year for the Autism Acceptance Challenge; I did the challenge again this year on Tumblr, but I’m not putting it here because that seems kind of redundant.
Day 1: Favorite autism resources. ASAN and AWN (now called the Autism Women and Nonbinary Network) have some great information. Also, Autistic Hoya (http://www.autistichoya.com/), and @ebthen on Twitter. To be honest, though, I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye with ASAN, and a particular big-name Autistic advocate (who I’m terrified of because she bullied me to the point of triggering my CPTSD like whoa over a misunderstanding, but still) has spoken out about issues she has with ASAN, most notably their events not being accessible to people with photosensitive epilepsy. And one of their co-founders and former president is…uh…I don’t agree with his politics on some crucial issues. But ASAN’s resources on why Autism $peaks is a garbage fire are still good.
Day 2: Selfie day. Not doing this for my safety.
Day 3: Stereotypes. Oh boy. Well, I fit the stereotype that all Autistic people are white, as PoC are hella underdiagnosed. Other than that, I fit the nerdy Autistic stereotype, and while I am socially awkward, I’m not an asshole like Sheldon Cooper the Ultimate Autistic Stereotype. Actually, you know what, I feel like talking about that.
Ways in which Sheldon Cooper is an Autistic stereotype:
-He acts like doesn’t care about the other people in his life
-He’s desexualized for most of the show (because Disabled people can’t be sexual beings, right?)
-He reacts badly to change
-He is an academic hotshot
-He had nerdy intense interests as a child
-He currently has nerdy intense interests
-He’s white, male, and cis
Of course there’s nothing wrong with having nerdy special interests, but the whole asshole thing? That’s a negative stereotype. A lot of autistic people have difficulties with nonsensical allistic social skills, but we tend to be more accommodating than most allistic people because we’re used to needing other people to be understanding. Of course, some autistic people are assholes–there are assholes in every crowd–but being Autistic does not make one an asshole.
Also, being white, male, and cis is…how allistic people seem to think of Autistic people, but it seems like a lot of Autistic people aren’t straight or cis. And I already mentioned that too many Autistic people who aren’t white, male, and cishet are diagnosed late or not at all.
The nerdy special interests are a somewhat justified stereotype, but special interests can be in anything. Pop music, explosives, orchids, cyberpunk, pretty cell phone cases, Victorian literature, anything. It doesn’t have to be trains and superheroes.
Regarding the academic hotshot thing, that’s more of an…ugh…Asperger’s stereotype. IQ is an everything-ist metric that doesn’t measure much of anything useful (more on that in another entry), but Autistic people can run the gamut from being intellectually Disabled to being members of MENSA. To put in a less ableist way, Autistic people can have a wide variety of academic skills and learning difficulties.
Day 4: Support. I could ramble at length about how allistic people can support Autistic people, but the gist of it is: believe Autistic people and organizations who are in the know about neurodiversity and ableism, and forget everything you’ve ever heard from autism parents™ or allistic-run organizations. We–Autistic people–are the real experts on our brains and the accommodations we need.
Day 5: Labels. The correct label for an Autistic person is “Autistic”. Not “person with autism”. Being Autistic is an inherent part of the way an Autistic person experiences the world. Person-first language is both inaccurate in its implication that autism is a disease and ableist in its need to “put the person first” and distance the person from the disability as if disability is an inherently bad thing. Autistic people who use “person with autism” should be referred to as such–people are allowed to have internalized ableism and not value their own existence, fine, whatever–but there is no non-ableist reason for person-first language with regard to autism. There’s a reason I’m putting a content warning on this post for person-first language.
Of course, a caveat with labels is that some people eschew them altogether. I don’t understand that–even if I don’t identify as asexual, I still don’t experience sexual attraction, which means I fit the definition of asexual regardless of whether or not I use the term–but some people don’t like labels and don’t like being referred to with labels. Which is fine. If someone doesn’t want a label applied to them, don’t apply it to them, even if it’s accurate.
Day 6 was Autistics of Color Selfie Day, so needless to say, it wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to post a selfie even if it were safe for me to do so.
Day 7: Special interests. Oh man, I have so many. They are specific enough that I don’t want to list all of them, as there are people out there who would read the list and figure out that it’s me writing this. (People who I don’t want to know that I write this blog.) But here are a few:
-Science fiction, especially if it’s progressive, gay, or both
-My harem of fictional wives, most of whom come from science fiction
-Disability justice (of course)
Day 8: Routine. Oh boy. I actually have a kind of a strange relationship with routines. I am generally productive and (somewhat) emotionally stable when I stick to a routine, and if I’m locked into a routine, I am prone to anger and mistakes when I have to break from that routine. But part of me hates routines because I long to be able to just do whatever the hell I want and relax for a little while.
Day 9: Favorite characters. Well, there are my aforementioned fictional wives, but I’m too identifiable by those, so instead I will also list a few characters I headcanon as Autistic. (Not all of them, as some of them are from obscure fandoms by which I could be identified.)
The Hunger Games trilogy:
-Andy Dufresne (The Shawshank Redemption)
-Mako Mori (Pacific Rim)
-Prince Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
-Sarkan, the Dragon (Uprooted by Naomi Novik)
-Alexander Hamilton (Hamilton: An American Musical)
-Georgette “Buffy” Messonier (Feed by Mira Grant)
-Mel (Sunshine by Robin McKinley)
Day 10: Diagnosis. I was self-diagnosed at about 13, professionally diagnosed approximately 10 years later. I don’t really want to reveal too much personal, so have some bullet points about autism diagnosis:
-Autistic people who aren’t white, male, and cishet are underdiagnosed (as previously mentioned)
-Being a combination of non-white, non-male, and/or queer decreases chances of correct diagnosis
-Being professionally diagnosed has a lot of disadvantages, and it is a valid choice to not seek professional diagnosis
-Self-diagnosis is valid
-Being anti-self-diagnosis is a whole host of -isms (more on that in another entry, probably)
Day 11: Sensory. Oh, wow, where do I start? I have sensory processing disorder and can’t process any kind of sensory input if there’s bright light or loud noise. Simultaneous bright light and loud noise give me crying meltdowns. Some noises, textures, and sounds–especially textures–are…well, I used to have a good phrase to describe them that I can’t use anymore because it reminds of an abusive ex…uh, they’re just fuckawful from a sensory point of view and I can’t stand them. Wet sponges are about the worst. On the other hand, I love to stim…to be continued on day 14.
Day 12: LGBT+ selfie day. Well, I’m really queer, but I’ve mentioned that I can’t post selfies for safety reasons.
Day 13: Community. (Presumably that means the Autistic community.) I’m fairly active in it, and it’s mostly pretty awesome, but I’ve seen a lot of anti-cluster B saneism in a lot of Autistic-run Facebook groups. Because there’s anti-cluster B saneism everywhere besides cluster B communities. *sigh*
Day 14: Stimming. Stims stims stims stims stims 😀 what a good topic. I have a hand spinner that I love, and I often stim with music, but something I do that I feel like is pretty rare is olfactory stimming. I often wear perfume so I can sniff it and just luxuriate in the scent or feel more relaxed. I love going through my perfumes and sniffing them all. When I was younger, whenever I was in a restaurant or store where there were scented candles, I would smell them all. Olfactory stimming is my jam.
Day 15: Family. Blood is not thicker than water. The actual quote is “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”.
Day 16: Friends. I have some wonderful and supportive friends and I’m very grateful for them.
Day 17: Animals. I’ve always related to animals, especially cats, more than people. I currently have an amazing cat who is not a trained ESA, but she sure acts like one.
Day 18: Coping. Something I’m not doing too well right now. Which is why I’m not doing a very good job with this challenge.
Day 19: Mental health. Something I don’t have. A lot of Autistic people develop anxiety and depression due to dealing with ableism, and we’re especially prone to PTSD. As you know if you’ve been reading this, I have all three of those. And BPD. And OsDD.
Day 20: Free day. Can I go back to sleep?
Day 21: Communication. This is an important one. A lot of Autistic people can’t communicate verbally, either always or some of the time. AAC, ASL, writing, and even so-called “behaviors” are communication. Allistics will bang on endlessly about how “mysterious” Autistic people are and how impossible we are to understand. But they’re the ones who refuse to learn how we communicate.
Day 22: Fear. Hmm. Interesting prompt. I would have to say my biggest fear as an Autistic person is that some kind of “cure” (that will probably be based on insufficient evidence or poorly done research, since you can’t cure who a person is) will be promulgated by the mainstream scientific community. Either that or autism genetic markers will be “discovered”, leading to eugenic abortion.
Day 23: Emotions. My emotions are, um, fucking ballistic. I feel everything on a River Tam level. Is this because I’m Autistic? Is this because I’m borderline? Nobody knowwwwwwws!
In all seriousness, though, Autistic people’s emotional tendencies are as varied as allistic people’s; it’s just that not all Autistic people express emotions like allistics do.
Day 24: Autistic girls selfie day. I’m female, but again, safety reasons.
Day 25: Awareness vs. acceptance. I’ve already done an entry on this. Awareness hurts because it makes autism seem like a disease and is generally ableist in every way. Acceptance is necessary for Autistic people to live our best lives in a society that currently rejects us.
Day 26: Free day. Thank fuck; I don’t have the EF for this. I’m going to sleep.
Day 27: Rules/authority. Fuck both. They’re usually ableist.
Day 28: Peers. I don’t understand this prompt. I…don’t get along well with my allistic peers, I guess? I never have. I usually interact well with other neurodivergent people, especially Autistic people.
Day 29: Future. The anti-ableist future where I don’t have to tirelessly put up with and confront ableism constantly? Yes, please.
Day 30: Autistic pride. Okay, here’s my Autistic pride collection on Redbubble. https://www.redbubble.com/people/autisticbanshee/collections/510801-autistic-and-awesome