Proudly “Autistic”

Autism is not an insult. It’s also, for that matter, not a statement on a person’s level of intelligence.

Those of us who identify as having it tend to refer to our autism freely and cheerfully. Those of us who describe our children as having been diagnosed with it are also often calm, accepting, and happy with the term.

I once lived in a townhouse complex. My son had gone through the whole wild journey I described for you in the GAPS Guide book and, with the dietary changes and detoxification, had mostly wrapped up a terrifying set of symptoms. Then, at age 4 and a half, he hopped onto a two-wheeler bicycle and, on his second try, rode beautifully. I was so amazed -this is a great accomplishment for anyone of this age!- and so proud. A neighbour was standing next to me, and I casually said to her, “Gosh, they’re always telling us what kids with autism can’t do, what their challenges are -fine motor skills, etc- but they rarely mention the stuff they tend to be good at, like gross motor.” My neighbour clenched not only her jaw but her entire face. She pursed her lips and hissed, “He doesn’t have autism! How dare you say this about him!”

Huh?

I didn’t say my child was, say, stupid. Or stubborn. Or mean. Or pathetic. Or lazy. Or boring. I said he had autism.

It’s frustrating for me that some people, even in the year 2013, misunderstand or misinterpret the word autism to mean “of limited intelligence” or “of little capacity” or some other erroneous idea. I have never said those about my child, and I’ve never thought them.

A more kind-hearted woman once responded to the news of my son’s diagnosis with, “Oh? I can’t see how that is -I think he’s actually very smart!”

Um, yes. Because a person can have autism and also be perfectly smart, yes.

Again, it’s nice when we as a society start forming accurate ideas about what a given word actually means. This can dissolve fear and anxiety and open doors to acceptance, celebration, and support.

Personally, I love being in environments where those of us with spectrum traits can talk freely and openly about them, where we don’t have to pretend to be “normal”, a.k.a. neurotypical. I find it a refreshing bit of sanctuary, where I can relax more and, frankly, have a good laugh at myself without fear of offending anyone in my doing so.

I won’t generalize and say that no one minds their symptoms or diagnosis of autism, but I will say that there are definitely a good number of us that don’t. For me, it’s the same as saying I have hazel eyes. It’s neither good nor bad -it just is. A simple fact, a descriptor of one aspect of me. No biggie.

And to me, every eye colour is beautiful, just as every point on the spectrum of neurotypical to neuro-atypical is beautiful.

When I say my son has autism, I trust this word is not a jail, not a limiter. I’m not saying or projecting what he can and cannot do, what his options are. I’ve already watch him beat so many odds that I have no preconceived ideas about what he can and cannot do. (And if I had had any in the first place, I wouldn’t have put him on a funny diet such that three days later he would start speaking and bathing.) His autism is simply one more aspect of him, along with his eye colour, height, and number of fingers. Again, it is what it is. No biggie.

I’m happy for my son that he is immersed in a community of mixed traits, that he interacts with copious people who are comfortable with their minority features of all kinds, and that he knows there is nothing “wrong with” autism (or his eye colour or height or number of fingers). I’m happy he gets to say it out loud. My hope is that in keeping this topic open, he will experience a similar delight to that which I have felt when coming across a post like this one, for how it describes me so well and, indirectly, lets me know I have another friend (albeit not yet met) in the world.

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2 Replies to “Proudly “Autistic””

  1. Hi Baden. My son has been on gaps for 5 days. He was extremely weak in the beginning but seems to have perked up now. My main concerns are:
    1) he is getting really bored of (and resistant to) meat and cooked veggies. He point blank refuses soup or broth (only day 1 was a success with this)
    2) he appears to be constipated (no pain) with bits of undigested food in stool
    Any words of encouragement or advice you could send my way, including for dips in energy, considering the above?

    Thank you. And yes, I agree with your post above. Where I live, I tend not to discuss my son as having autism, but point out areas of delay when needed. Simply because he will immediately be classified and underestimated in the surrounding mindset and misunderstanding of autism.

    • Hi there, Another Mom.

      All of this is quite common. Please see in GAPS Guide 2nd Edition the sections for

      (a) feeding broth to people that don’t love it (paperback pg 229), and
      (b) constipation (paperback pg 37).

      Please do not worry at all about the bits of undigested food in his stool at this stage (paperback pg 35 ‘Bowel Movements’).

      All my best,
      Baden

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