In My Language

The first part is in my “native language,” and then the second part provides a translation, or at least an explanation. This is not a look-at-the-autie gawking freakshow as much as it is a statement about what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, and communication, and what does not.

Love, Asperger Syndrome and the Big Apple

“Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame.” – Henry David Thoreau “Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What is love? Ask ten different people and you will doubtlessly receive ten different answers. With few exceptions, these responses will be emotional in nature, ranging from sentimental to deeply passionate, bittersweet to just plain bitter… Yet, ask a person with Asperger Syndrome the same question and you may provoke a spontaneous, longwinded lecture on the motivating role of dopamine and norepinephrine in human reproduction.

Chances are the Aspie knows his stuff, but if love is nothing more than a chemical reaction, what exactly is the reaction’s catalyst? What makes a person fall in or out of love? Do we choose love or does it choose us? Why are some willing to die for it and others spend their lives running from it? These are the mysteries that elevate love to mythic heights within the hearts and minds of neurotypicals. So you want to make that longwinded Aspie shut up? Just ask them to define “true love.”

Before being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome [...] continue the story

Diagnosis and all that Jazz . . . A Female Perspective on Autism

I am a 20 year-old aspergian who was just diagnosed early last summer. I didn’t know anything about autism until a few months before my diagnosis. I’d heard of it, of course, but did I know what it was? Not really. I’ll admit that I was always under the impression that autism was a debilitating disease, made famous by its drooling, blank eyed poster children who don’t speak and do nothing but cause heart ache for everyone around them.

Since my diagnosis a little over a year ago, I’ve immersed myself in the world of autism. Before joining the ranks I had no idea it was such a large community, filled with its fair share of politics and drama.

Over the past year I’ve been to several conferences and autism events, and I’ve met countless individuals on the spectrum. Meeting other autistic people was a huge breakthrough moment for me. It finally clicked that yes, I belong here; I am one of you. I in no way believe diagnosis to be necessary for everyone, but it definitely helped me. Before my diagnosis I was constantly worried that I wasn’t really on the spectrum, something was just “wrong” with me. What if I [...] continue the story

I Want My Money Back

John Scott Holman struggled with undiagnosed autism for nearly 25 years. His diagnosis has enabled him to embrace his individuality and move forward. He writes and speaks publicly about his life with autism, hoping to inspire greater understanding and acceptance.At the tender age of fifteen, I saw my first psychologist, a stern, elderly man who smelled like a second hand bookstore. His full, wiry beard was speckled with white and gray, as if it had caught the contents of an overturned ashtray. It fell past his chest, disappearing beneath the edge of his massive, oak desk. I wondered if it reached his toes, and leaned forward awkwardly, hoping for a revealing glimpse. “Young man,” he said, startling me. “Tell me why you’re here.” “Do you shampoo that beard?” I asked. “Excuse me…” “You look like Charles Darwin.” He leaned back and stared at me, mildly annoyed, as if I was a fly he had noticed swimming in his coffee. “Your family is concerned by you behavior. I believe…” “I commend you, sir!” I interrupted. “The world is experiencing a shortage of truly magnificent facial hair; you’ve got the best beard I’ve seen all year! You know who else had a good beard? Sigmund Freud. Are you [...] continue the story

Judy’s Story

On Memorial Day 2009, a Facebook friend posted that she was on her way to a pottery studio in Madison, WI. I happened to be on FB just then, so I asked about it since I live in Madison. I met my friend at the studio, spoke to the instructor and signed up for an adult summer class. My intent was to make pots on a wheel, but I discovered I couldn’t do it because the spinning wheel made me nauseous. The teacher put a lump of clay in my hands and told me see what happens, so I did. I’ve been hand building sculptures ever since and love it.

Autism gifts me with a literal and concrete way of thinking. My thoughts are all in pictures. Hand building sculptures allows me to show my thoughts. Each sculpture in my Brown Paper Bag series is a rendition of how a person with autism might look were all people represented by brown paper bags. Autistics may appear a little scruffy like a rumpled brown paper bag, with tears or even with the bottom of the bag missing. Some people cannot see beyond the autistic scruffies and thus miss the blessings of individual [...] continue the story