Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

There has never been a time in history better than now, to have Aspergers. Not only are they able to diagnose it more frequently and therefore provide more assistance, but, equally important is the rise of the nerd culture. In the past, things like adults playing Nintendo games or reading comic books used to be frowned upon and were not something that people could talk about or engage in openly without fear of being considered dorks and nerds and without facing potential reprecussions, including but not limited to, the loss of respect. As a result, people had to pretend that they were either into sports or cars. Comic books and video games are activities that people with Aspergers have typically been drawn to. Video games provide us with an escape, and helped us feel some control, in a world that we often find too confusing and crazy. The fact that people now are more open about sharing our interests in video games, instead of restricting these activities as only appropriate for teenagers and children, means that we can have conversations and come across as less weird and more social. In addition, with the rise of the nerd culture it is no longer considered strange to be really, really into something like animated television or historical battles. I am not sure what brought about this rise in nerd culture making it into the mainstream culture as thus being more accepted, what I do know is that there has never been a better time than now to have Aspergers.

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People we are not doing enough to celebrate Aspergers/Autism. I don’t think we are doing enough to celebrate people with disabilities in general, but we are definitely not doing enough to celebrate Aspergers. We need to take a page out of the gay/lesbian transgendered communities playbook and embrace our differences.

First we could have Autism spectrum parades. I think our flag would be rainbowed like the gay and Lesbian community, because frankly we are a rainbow people. We think everywhere on the spectrum from the most outgoing individuals to the most withdrawn. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, it is a burden at times but it can also be a gift. An amazing gift so why don’t we openly embrace our community of wonderful individuals and have parades

There is also a Gay and Lesbian show in the Winnipeg comedy festival. There is a panel to discuss issues relating to their specific community in a much larger festival giving them a forum to discuss their challenges and their triumphs with a much wider audience. I would love to have panels consisting of people all over the spectrum including NT (Neuro-typical) individuals talking. I think this is an amazing show and  would love if such a show existed for the disabled community. This would be a dream come true if shows like that were included in the Winnipeg comedy festival. I think that the autism community is even less well understood and represented in general and think that it would be amazing if we could be more represented.

I also think that it is great that there are characters who have autistic elements to them such as Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory and think that it would be that much greater if the character they had chosen to play him was on the spectrum in real life.

The real question is how can we network with groups who are already established and emulate them.

Just like there was once shame in being a lesbian and now the identity is embraced and for the most part openly accepted in society, it is my dream that the same could be said about the Autism community.

I admire people who are able to be themselves and not care what everyone else thinks. I personally have always felt an enormous pressure to conform. Did it first come from the outside world or did it first come within I can’t tell you. When I was younger I used to go to Cub Scouts. At the time our Scout’s master always started and ended every session with a christian prayer. We even were made to watch a movie on Jesus Christ and his life. It made me feel extremely awkward being Jewish. I felt an enormous pressure to fit in and be like everyone else because one of my good friends at the time was part of the group. It felt like brainwashing and a cult. The group was also involved in other events that made me feel awkward such as selling christmas trees.

As well, at all the local malls there were always Santa Claus who handed out candy canes if you went to talk to them. What child is not excited about candy and therefore, I saw Santa Claus as this benevolent figure. There was no Jewish equivalent. No Jewish figure at the malls being generous to all the little children and wanting to know what they wanted for Chanukah. The seduction that this man would try and fulfill your wishes and bring you any toys you want as long as you are good is really hard to resist.

Since I had Aspergers my parents decided that I was going to go into the English immersion program at the local school instead of the Hebrew one. Which makes logical sense, why make it any harder for your child when he already has enough struggles. In my class they taught us christmas songs and everyone was constantly talking about their christmas plans. I remember once talking to my classmate and pretending that I too had a christmas/ Chanukah tree, which only made me feel left out and ashamed.

Having Aspergers and the physical challenges that go with it I often played hockey on a team of younger people. Once when we were getting destroyed by another team the coach told a player don’t worry they are all 12-year-olds on the other team and therefore there was nothing to be upset about. At the time I was 12 and I was probably the weakest player on the team, therefore, I felt tremendous shame.

In addition, whenever we learnt about a person with disability in schools we always learnt about their challenges and if any strengths were mentioned, they were mentioned as an aside in a way that felt less than genuine. This may have been my personal spin on the information what they were trying to convey, nevertheless, a person would come out of those classes and feel sympathy or empathy. Those poor guys, “so brave” and oh so “patient” it made you come out of there glad you were not blind or disabled.

No wonder, I always tried so hard to conform and be like everyone else. Yet, every time I ended up falling short, because I am not like everyone else I have Aspergers and instead of celebrating my differences and what makes me unique I focused on how I fell short of my perception of what it was like to be everyone else which only left me feeling depressed and bitter.