You’re Faking Autism
Sometimes when people accuse me of faking autism, I want to laugh. You think that saying I’m autistic gives me some kind of advantage? People are sorry for me and then what? They’re extra nice to me? I get my essays about autism published because I have a lower bar? Haha. I’m laughing over here. I’m paid very, very little for my essays about autism. I write well, and I do so because I’ve spent most of the last fifty years of my life writing. I wrote those first bad million words before I turned twenty. I wrote another two million bad words before I got my first book published. I started my career as a writer before I knew I was autistic, and there wasn’t any special pass for autists anyway. Still isn’t.
What other possible advantages do you think me saying I’m autistic gains me? More friends, when I say I don’t have a sense of humor? More money because I’m good at certain kinds of math? More race medals because I’m the kind of runner who never takes days off and even when ordered by my coach after doing an Ironman to take a whole week off, I just can’t make myself do it?
I’ll admit there are advantages in actually being autistic. Sometimes I think of autism as my super power. It does make me better at my job in the financial world. In certain ways, anyway. It makes me a persistent athlete. I have no natural talent at it otherwise. Determination and a refusal to quit are all I have, and I use them to the utmost. Come look at my wall of medals. I have over two hundred of them. I’m very proud of that. You can look at my afghans, all completed while stimming in meetings at work, while you’re at it.
Autism is a double-edged sword. I think if I asked anyone out there if they’d rather trade a childhood spent most years without a single friend, combined with constant migraines for thirty years as I tried to mask, against the disadvantages of autism, no one would choose to be autistic. I’m not saying I wish I wasn’t autistic. Most of the time I’m proud of being autistic.
But there are days where I would do anything in the world not to be autistic. Anything. I’d give up all my good grades, my perfect test scores, just to be able to watch a comedy show and laugh with other people, to go out to a bar with friends without knowing that I’ll have a headache if I stay too long, to enjoy loud music at a concert with friends. Some days. Not every day. But those are hard days.